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View Diary: The Filibuster is Not a Check or Balance (47 comments)

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  •  Even better (3+ / 0-)
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    Kevskos, hazzcon, RUNDOWN

    Senates are an elitist anachronism.  "States" don't have discrete interests worth special representation in a polity's legislatures.  People matter, acres don't.  The purpose of Senates is for older, richer, whiter, maler people to have a special chamber that gives them a veto over government.

    The federalist papers make that clear.  This business of "representing the states" appears to be an after the fact rationalization of the true intent.

    That said, I understand you basically need unanimity to abolish the senate at least, under the existing constitution, so it's unlike to happen short of a constitutional convention.

    But I bet the powers of the Senate could be stripped away much like the UK house of lords.  Turn it into a debating club for aristocrats with little real power.  Still needs regular constitutional amendments, but at least that's somewhat plausible.

    •  The Senate was intended to be populated (7+ / 0-)

      by statesmen. It still serves a purpose. Just imagine the effect of the tea people House if they were not restrained by the Senate.

      Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

      by Just Bob on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 03:34:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  None (0+ / 0-)

        No effect.  Still a Democratic President.

        It's funny too, the 2010 election is the only time I am aware where the House changed hands, but not the Senate.  Despite the design of the Senate with the 1/3 elections per cycle, every other time either both chambers change hands, or only the Senate does (like under Reagan, or when it briefly went Democratic 2001-2002.

        Honestly for the occasional window that wingnuts would have the government, liberals would be far better off in the long term without any Senate.   And when wingnuts do run wild, the nice thing in such a system is that voters know exactly who to blame.  Margaret Thatcher did not kill the NHS despite having the power to do so, because voters would have destroyed her party.  Popular sentiment is a better check on wingnuts than Senate filibusters.

        Canada, UK: Weak/Powerless senates
        Norway, Denmark, Sweden:  Unicameral legislatures
        Australia: Senate elected by proportional rep, and can be overridden by House in extremis (double dissolution)
        Japan, France:  Senates considerably weaker than House

        Basically no one gives their upper chamber equal power to the lower anywhere else.  It's a bad system.

    •  welll (0+ / 0-)

      Where exactly in the Federalist Papers are you coming up with that? I'm assuming you are referring to the assertation that uneducated part time politicians might serve to be balanced out?

      While that may be the case, it is a bit of cherry picking. The semi-autonomous nature of the states and the fact that the federal government or more populous states should not be able to steamroll them are mentioned with much more frequency.

      "[..] giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems."

      "In this spirit it may be remarked, that the equal vote allowed to each State is at once a constitutional recognition of the portion of sovereignty remaining in the individual States, and an instrument for preserving that residuary sovereignty. So far the equality ought to be no less acceptable to the large than to the small States; since they are not less solicitous to guard, by every possible expedient, against an improper consolidation of the States into one simple republic."

      "A government founded on principles more consonant to the wishes of the larger States, is not likely to be obtained from the smaller States. The only option, then, for the former, lies between the proposed government and a government still more objectionable."

      It is unfortunate that the concepts of states rights have been so intermingled with racism and slavery, but that is a different discussion.

      •  Start with Federalists 62 and 63 (1+ / 0-)
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        The qualifications proposed for senators, as distinguished from those of representatives, consist in a more advanced age and a longer period of citizenship. A senator must be thirty years of age at least; as a representative must be twenty-five. And the former must have been a citizen nine years; as seven years are required for the latter. The propriety of these distinctions is explained by the nature of the senatorial trust, which, requiring greater extent of information and stability of character, requires at the same time that the senator should have reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages; and which, participating immediately in transactions with foreign nations, ought to be exercised by none who are not thoroughly weaned from the prepossessions and habits incident to foreign birth and education.
        Another defect to be supplied by a senate lies in a want of due acquaintance with the objects and principles of legislation. It is not possible that an assembly of men called for the most part from pursuits of a private nature, continued in appointment for a short time, and led by no permanent motive to devote the intervals of public occupation to a study of the laws, the affairs, and the comprehensive interests of their country, should, if left wholly to themselves, escape a variety of important errors in the exercise of their legislative trust.
        Thus far I have considered the circumstances which point out the necessity of a well-constructed Senate only as they relate to the representatives of the people. To a people as little blinded by prejudice or corrupted by flattery as those whom I address, I shall not scruple to add, that such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions. As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn.

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