With appropriate props to BooMan who posted this yesterday...
If you read the full context of the Federalist Paper that is excerpted in the link above, here: Federalist Papers #22 you will see some really amazing and interesting parallels between then and now. Probably because there is a basic structural and philosophical conflict that will ALWAYS play out in any form of representative or democratic system: the eternal (?) conflict between the fundamental tenet of democratic decision by majority vote versus the inherent problem of democratic systems, which is the "tyranny of the majority."
Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, and the rest all struggled with the same questions that we face now.
My basic opinion is as follows:
There is no question that the ability of a committed minority to
embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majorityhas been quite effectively abused by the GOP over the last decade.
It is likewise quite obvious that, as foreshadowed and as played out in the lead up to and aftermath of the Civil War, individual state-determined regulatory inconsistencies have become a political weapon...
the interfering and unneighborly regulations of some States, contrary to the true spirit of the Union, have, in different instances, given just cause of umbrage and complaint to others, and it is to be feared that examples of this nature, if not restrained by a national control, would be multiplied and extended till they became not less serious sources of animosity and discord than injurious impediments to the intercourse between the different parts of the Confederacy
However, simply because the power of a parliamentary-mechanic-abusing, filibuster-enabled mendacious minority group can be abused and can induce paralysis, potentially leading to dissolution of a confederated or federal system... does not mean that it should simply be abolished.
Because what if the minority party is RIGHT, and the majority party is WRONG?
A majority was convinced that the Earth was the center of the solar system and the universe. A minority of about two (Copernicus, Galileo) was convinced by their observations that the Earth orbited the sun... and the consequences of their minority status were unpleasant, even though they were correct.
There are numerous instances of minorities being correct, and using filibuster-style tactics to ensure that appropriate action, law, or conclusions were carried out within a system dominated by a disagreeable majority (Civil Rights, Womens' Rights, and much much more).
One could even make the case that many of the greatest advances in human endeavor, from science to culture to society to art, have been made by very small minorities in defiance of overwhelming majorities often hostile to the minority viewpoint. (I am a geologist, and Plate Tectonic Theory is a classic example in the world of science).
Thus, the "Tyranny of the Majority" argument put forward quite eloquently by John Adams:
If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest, or that of their families, counties, and party, to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution, in favor of justice, to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations [...] that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history [...] checks [on this tyranny], however multiplied, will scarcely avail without an explicit admission some limitation of the right of the majority to excercise sovereign authority over the individual citizen...I do feel that the hair splitting done by Reid and the Democratic Party in the case of this change to the Filibuster is quite effective:
It seems to me that there is a huge difference between MAKING law, SETTING precedent, DETERMINING the structure and fabric of governmental rules and frameworks... and OPERATING the laws made. (Hence the separation of powers).
By limiting the Filibuster (old style) to Supreme Court Justices (who determine constitutionality of passed law) and to the legislative (as opposed to confirmatory) functions of the Senate, the hairs have been nicely split:
When it comes to putting in place the human-power necessary to carry out settled law, there is no place for parliamentarian games and "dogs in the manger" (because this problem clearly goes ALL the way back as long as humans hung out in groups of more than 3!!)...
But when it comes to determining what those laws actually are, and what they actually do... minority rights (in the most literal and in the more modern senses) are extremely important, must be respected, and should be preserved as carefully as possible... because sometimes the Emperor really does have no clothes, sometimes it really does "still move," and sometimes one single person against all the world is correct, and everyone else really is wrong.
I think that the Democrats are carrying out a tough balancing act made more difficult by pernicious and mendacious abuse of an important tool for partisan, cheap, and small purposes by the GOP.