Majority rule

MAJORITY RULE…. Harold Meyerson has a must-read column today, connecting a couple of my favorite ideas.

Meyerson notes, for example, that the right-wing mobs trying to stifle discussion of health care reform are very loud, but tend to be a minority. The far-right activists are “perpetually fired up” — about all of their various causes and conspiracies — but they’re not the American mainstream, and they’re certainly lacking the electoral mandate that the president and the congressional majority enjoy. We are instead dealing with “a mobilized minority” which is making “a very plausible play to thwart a demobilized majority.”

[T]hat’s exactly what’s happening in Congress. Indeed, the very rules of the Senate empower mobilized minorities over majorities even when those majorities are mobilized, too. When the filibuster is employed, it takes 60 percent of the Senate, not 50 percent plus one, to enact legislation.

The rise of the filibuster should give constitutional originalists some pause…. Simply put, that number means that the Senate now runs by minority rule. A more corrosive attack on the first principle of democracy, that of majority rule, is hard to conceive. The increasingly routine use of the filibuster stymies the efficacy of government (in itself a conservative objective) and negates the consequences of elections.

But minority rule is what today’s Republicans are all about. Hence we see disruption in the districts and stagnation in the Senate. When and whether the majority will bestir itself to reestablish democracy’s first principle is anybody’s guess. Abolishing the filibuster would be a good start — and perhaps a necessary step to enact to big changes like health reform.

Good point. Republicans on the Hill and the Republicans in the base seem to be operating under a bizarre assumption: he who throws the biggest tantrum wins. It’s no way for a political system to operate.