Friday, August 20, 2010

If you're tired of the big so so

I've been turning this George Packer piece about the US Senate over in my head for awhile now.  It's a good article, although I'm not sure it tells us much we didn't already know:  the Senate is pretty worthless.  They never get anything done, the minority can use a bunch of arcane procedural maneuvers to stop almost anything from happening.

And I keep coming back to the same question:  why do we put up with this?  At one point in the article, Packer talks about some new members of the Senate wanting to reform some of its rules, making it a bit less Sisyphean to try to get something done.  But, of course, that ain't gonna happen:
Newcomers like Udall seem to think that the Senate has grown so absurd and extreme that some kind of reform is inevitable. Perhaps they need more time to plumb the depths of the institution’s intransigence. According to Sarah Binder, a change in rules is extremely unlikely; Republicans would be implacably opposed to, say, weakening the filibuster, and so would some Democrats, especially long-serving ones. “I would oppose that,” Chris Dodd said, adding of the freshmen, “These are people who have never been in the minority.”
This is the problem with Senators and other privileged people.  They think they have succeeded based on their merit, rather than by a combination of good fortune and dumb luck.  They think they deserve a say.  They think there is some intrinsic value to preserving mechanisms that ensure everybody has their day.

But there isn't.  There's no reason any one person, elected by the good people of Montana or even California, should ever be able to stop anything.  And that's exactly what the filibuster, and all these holds and unanimous consent rules allow people to do.

I don't care how Chris Dodd feels about his years in the minority.  Senators need to get over themselves. 

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