OK

This is only a Preview!

You must Publish this diary to make this visible to the public,
or click 'Edit Diary' to make further changes first.

Posting a Diary Entry

Daily Kos welcomes blog articles from readers, known as diaries. The Intro section to a diary should be about three paragraphs long, and is required. The body section is optional, as is the poll, which can have 1 to 15 choices. Descriptive tags are also required to help others find your diary by subject; please don't use "cute" tags.

When you're ready, scroll down below the tags and click Save & Preview. You can edit your diary after it's published by clicking Edit Diary. Polls cannot be edited once they are published.

If this is your first time creating a Diary since the Ajax upgrade, before you enter any text below, please press Ctrl-F5 and then hold down the Shift Key and press your browser's Reload button to refresh its cache with the new script files.

ATTENTION: READ THE RULES.

  1. One diary daily maximum.
  2. Substantive diaries only. If you don't have at least three solid, original paragraphs, you should probably post a comment in an Open Thread.
  3. No repetitive diaries. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged (you can search for Stories and Diaries that already cover this topic), though fresh original analysis is always welcome.
  4. Use the "Body" textbox if your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs.
  5. Any images in your posts must be hosted by an approved image hosting service (one of: imageshack.us, photobucket.com, flickr.com, smugmug.com, allyoucanupload.com, picturetrail.com, mac.com, webshots.com, editgrid.com).
  6. Copying and pasting entire copyrighted works is prohibited. If you do quote something, keep it brief, always provide a link to the original source, and use the <blockquote> tags to clearly identify the quoted material. Violating this rule is grounds for immediate banning.
  7. Be civil. Do not "call out" other users by name in diary titles. Do not use profanity in diary titles. Don't write diaries whose main purpose is to deliberately inflame.
For the complete list of DailyKos diary guidelines, please click here.

Please begin with an informative title:

Alex Seitz-Wald has a good article on Salon on the problems with the filibuster (summary: it's probably unconstitutional, it's definitely undemocratic, and it's bad policy). But Seitz-Wald doesn't go into detail about one thing: The filibuster, and all similar departures from majority rule (with certain explicit exceptions), aren't just innovations with no justification in the Constitution; they were explicitly considered and rejected by the framers of the Constitution.

Explanation below the jump.

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

The thing is, the framers of the Constitution lived in a world where two countries with democratic institutions were collapsing; the Netherlands and Poland had been powerful, enlightened countries in the 17th century, but by 1795 both would be overrun by their neighbors. At least part of the blame was laid on their constitutional quirks, which were overscrupulous about checks and balances; in Poland's case, the "liberum veto" was like a filibuster on steroids.

That's why the Constitution requires supermajorities only for exceptionally grave decisions (treaties and Constitutional amendments). The fact that we now need a supermajority to conduct the ordinary business of government would have horrified them.

Just to show I'm not making this up, here's Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, the best source we have on the thinking behind the Constitution. (It's worth reading in full.)

To give the minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision) is in its tendency to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser number. . . .This is one of those refinements which in practice has an effect, the reverse of what is expected from it in theory.

The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations of a respectable majority.

In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must in some way or other go forward. If a pertinacious minority can controul the opinion of a majority respecting the best mode of conducting it; the majority in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will over-rule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence tedious delays—continual negotiations and intrigue—contemptible compromises of the public good.

And yet in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: For upon some occasions, things will not admit of accommodation: and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savour of weakness—sometimes border upon anarchy.

(Federalist Papers, Federalist 17, Paragraph breaks added)

"Pertinacious minority." "Corrupt junto." "Tedious delays—continual negotiations and intrigue—contemptible compromises of the public good." Hamilton could have been writing about today.

Extended (Optional)

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.