Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 35 of 49

Thread: The Tyranny of the Superminority

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Sharon, MA
    Posts
    24,247

    Default The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Ever wonder why we are the ‘United States of America’, and not the ‘United Citizens of America’?

    245 years ago, the conjunction of 13 independent colonies into what became the United States was a bold and extraordinary event. I’m no student of history, but I’m not sure that such an experiment had ever been seen before, anywhere on the globe, nor, to my knowledge, has it ever happened again. The historical underpinnings of most nations of the world have been based on something of a monoculturalism, with the interests of the nation consistent and uniform. Whether based on religion, ethnicity, race, or some other common factor, the longest surviving nations still have that same uniformity.

    While it could be argued that the same factors were what stitched together a nation out of the original 13 colonies, I’m not so sure that it was really the case. Each colony had distinctive foundations; religion, in the case of many (including Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts) was common, but the colony in Georgia was originally established with the idea that it would be a good place to put English debtors, instead of letting them rot in prison in England.

    The only true common goal, among the colonies, was the eradication of subjugation by the British Crown… a noble effort, if there ever was one. However, beyond that successful event, it fell upon the colonies to organize a nation out of interests that were either extant at the time, or would be incipient in the following decades. The agrarian slaveholding southern states had interests distinct from the more densely populated northern colonies who were only a few decades away from a profound industrial revolution.

    The Founding Fathers, with what would much later be described as enlightened liberalism, conceived of a nation founded on a handful of key moral values, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and so on. After an unsuccessful start with the Articles of Confederation, they finally achieved what they considered to be a better exposition of those values, with the Constitution… although almost instantly, ten amendments were required to articulate those key values.

    It was no easy task, and the Federalist Papers provides insight to their thought processes.

    One key attribute of a free nation, they thought, was that government ought to be ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, and while the end result, a republic, fell short of the idealistic goal, it was nonetheless true that they all felt that the majority interests of the people would be supreme. The idea of a democracy, indeed, requires and demands that this be the case…

    …yet, 245 years later, that goal and objective has been an abject failure.

    The Founders wrestled with the idea of majority rule, and it became apparent to them that one potential problem might be a ‘tyranny of the majority’ (I’m not sure if that phrase was coined by them, but it is common today). While they may have put a great deal of thought into the problem, they provided little in the way of provisions within the constitution. To this date, the only recognition of the potential for a tyranny of a majority, in the Constitution, is the requirement for a supermajority in cases of amendments to the constitution, or in the case of impeachment. There is no other requirement for a consensus rising above a simple majority in any legislative deliberation…

    …other than what Congress decided to impose, by right of its ability to define it’s own rules… and there is where the problem is.

    ---

    We can measure how successful a democracy is by whether its legislative actions reflect any reasonable assessment of the will of the people, and by that measure, we have failed miserably. There are countless issues we could look at to prove the case.

    What about ‘Medicare for All’? 70% of the population supports it.
    What about abortion? 61% of the public supports a woman’s right to choose.
    Citizenship for illegal immigrants? According to Gallup, 87% of the public are generally in favor of it.

    These issues are more nuanced that the statistics above might imply, but it is nonetheless true that there is a massive disconnect between the ‘will of the people’, and the will of the people we send to Washington to represent us.

    ---

    There are a number of reasons for this disconnect, and they especially include gerrymandering. Anyone who has examined this issue knows about the ability of a state legislature to draw impossibly convoluted congressional districts to give an advantage to one party, and historically, it’s been a bipartisan corrupt practice… but more recently, almost the exclusive tool of Republicans. The result: the party which does the gerrymandering ends up with representation in congress significantly in excess of the support within the state; not exactly a recipe for fair representation of the constituent’s interests.

    ---

    The real problem, however, lies in the filibuster.

    Many people falsely think of a filibuster as a single parliamentary technique, but the word actually implies any rules-based technique designed to delay or obstruct the ability of Congress to vote on an issue. The days of the ‘talking filibuster’ (think James Stewart, in ‘Mr. Smith Comes to Washington’) are long over. Nowadays, the power of the filibuster resides in something called cloture.

    The founding Fathers felt strongly that Congressional debate should be ‘unlimited’, and dreamed, I suppose, of a deliberative body capable of sustained, intelligent, and impassioned debate on the issues of the day, before resolving the question via a vote. This principle of ‘unlimited debate’ becomes the key issue, when thinking about the filibuster.

    Of course, the notion of ‘sustained, reasonable, and impassioned’ debate is today a complete joke. Anyone watching CSPAN knows that the senator giving a speech in the well of the senate is speaking to a completely empty room; I suspect that few other senators bother to listen, or even read what is said, since policy is determined by the majority and minority leaders, who expect the members of their respective caucuses to step in line.

    The Constitution gave Congress the ability to define it’s own rules of conduct, and stated that the adoption of rules would be decided by a simple majority vote… but that left Congress free to impose constraints on virtually all other business, by rulemaking. Decades ago, the Senate voted to impose ‘Rule 22’, which basically stated that in order to cut off debate and move to a vote, there needed to be a supermajority of assent; initially, a 2/3rds majority, later amended to a 3/5ths majority.

    This is now the means by which a filibuster works. When the Senate is divided such that the majority party does not reach a 3/5ths majority, the minority party can permanently prevent ANY deliberation from coming to a vote, by preventing a cloture vote… and this is how it works today. Anyone wondering how it was possible for Mitch McConnell to prevent Merrick Garland from getting an up or down vote of confirmation in the senate should realize that ‘debate’ never ended, on Garland’s nomination… because no cloture vote was possible.

    Cloture has given way to the ‘nuclear option’, basically an acknowledgement that a party with the slimmest possible majority could simply re-write the senate rules (which require only a simple majority) to permit passage of a bill… or to lower the cloture threshold to a simple majority. It’s called the ‘nuclear option’, however, because the party which resorts to it may end up being it’s victim, in the next election cycle.

    ---

    It’s all the fault of the states.

    In 1776, the 13 colonies were essentially isolated islands of civilization and commerce, separated by not quite ‘wilderness’, but not far from it. My own hometown, half way between Boston and Providence, was the stopping-off point for travelers transiting between the two cities; Billings Tavern was where they would often break up what was a two day journey by horse, or coach.

    Today, the only way anyone would know they were crossing from one state, to the other, would be if there was a sign; the border between South Attleboro, MA, and Pawtucket, RI, doesn’t exist.. it’s just a continuation of exurban landscape. Those signs are probably even more important, when crossing from New Mexico, to Arizona. Exactly how different are the interests of the residents of Kansas City, KS, from those living in Kansas City, MO, just across the river?

    Yet, representation in congress differs dramatically, when counted on a ‘number of persons per senator’ basis. The two senators from Wyoming represent 1/70th of the number of people that the two senators from California represent.

    This might have made sense… but only if the aggregate interests of each state were distinct from each other state. This might have been the case, in 1789… but certainly isn’t the case now. What makes Georgia politically monolithic? The far right residents of Northern Georgia share virtually nothing, politically, from those Georgians living in the suburbs of Atlanta.

    ---

    I could go on and on, and bore the hell out of everyone… but I think we all have to recognize that our ‘more perfect union’ isn’t really getting any more ‘perfect’… and the imperfections are baked into the Constitution. Could those imperfections be corrected and improved with constitutional amendments?

    Sure. Likely to happen? Of course not.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    2 states: NJ and confusion
    Posts
    38,922

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    In other words; it's not working as we think it's supposed to.

    If 33 states manage to get their new laws into place, we may never see another democratic president.
    Now he's gone. If only he'd be forgotten.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    The filibuster has become a Very Bad Idea.

    The Senate itself, where Wyoming and Vermont get the same number of Senators as Texas and California, is almost as bad. The idea of states getting equal representation may have made sense in 1789, but it sure as hell does not anymore.

    The first can be fixed. The chance of fixing the latter is, alas, approaching the sparkly pink unicorn class. The best fix might be to redraw state boundaries so that they would have more nearly equal populations - but no way in the world is that going to happen.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    How about The United States of Brazil?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    victoria, australia. (1 address now)
    Posts
    65,522

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    I can see a new seccession movement evolving here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    1,566

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    The Republican mindset today is that a government not led by their party has no right to exist.

    Speaking at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend, the former President positioned himself and his audience as the only true Americans.
    Last edited by sonofswen; 03-03-2021 at 01:04 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Walney, near Cumbria UK
    Posts
    52,736

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    Ever wonder why we are the ‘United States of America’, and not the ‘United Citizens of America’?

    245 years ago, the conjunction of 13 independent colonies into what became the United States was a bold and extraordinary event. I’m no student of history, but I’m not sure that such an experiment had ever been seen before, anywhere on the globe, nor, to my knowledge, has it ever happened again. The historical underpinnings of most nations of the world have been based on something of a monoculturalism, with the interests of the nation consistent and uniform. Whether based on religion, ethnicity, race, or some other common factor, the longest surviving nations still have that same uniformity.
    Both Italy and Germany are constructs of many autonomous "States" Princedoms or Duchies. Were the colonial States so different and diverse? How so?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
    The weakness of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Norm I think a more historical lens is required. The last six years have seen partisan extremism and obstructionism not seen since maybe pre-civil war. But i think the blockage we’ve seen is more due to the parties refusing to compromise and scorched earth politics than it does a systematic failure.

    Part 1: the House. The House is supposed to directly represent the people. Many of my liberal friends insist the House is broken because of the filibuster. I think they doth protest too loudly: since World War II Democrats have held more seats than their popular votes. Gerrymandering is bad and should be eliminated, but it’s hard for a Liberal to say that the House under-represents them.

    5F1805BB-15E0-4BA1-A164-DDEE682DC20E.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    The filibuster came about as a kludge to protect white supremacy and its being used to protect white supremacy. It’s working as designed.

    Kill the filibuster.

    And stop pretending Republicans on the Supreme Court are anything but fire breathing partisan morons.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    The filibuster came about as a kludge to protect white supremacy and its being used to protect white supremacy. It’s working as designed.
    Not historically accurate at all. https://www.senate.gov/about/powers-...rs-cloture.htm

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    The filibuster was used by (white) senators from the south against civil rights legislation, but it certainly wasn't invented for that. It's gotten much, much more common lately.

    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    That potted history is poor and inaccurate. The big 1850s filibusters were over state admissions.

    but I see people are inventing words to defend a stupid tradition, so have at it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Part 2: The Senate and the White House

    It’s become popular to lament that states with large populations are going to grow more and have less representation in the senate and the electoral college. I came across this really interesting piece in the Washington Post a few years ago. In fact, the situation has been stable almost since the beginning of the Republic.

    F51EC346-3BE2-4DE6-A284-EA90ABDFF8DE.jpg

    Much more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...of-the-senate/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    That potted history is poor and inaccurate.
    Find another history to share then.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    Find another history to share then.
    Try this
    https://www.brookings.edu/testimonie...he-filibuster/

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    But I see people are inventing words to defend a stupid tradition, so have at it.
    I'm not defending the filibuster in the slightest; I think we should get rid of it today. But it was not invented to 'protect white supremacy'.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Part 3: so what ails us?

    I think Keith’s chart nails it. The filibuster and cloture votes were exceedingly rare before 1971.
    The filibuster doubled in 2007-2008, the last two years of George W. Bush, while the Democrats held the Senate.
    The filibuster doubled again in 2013-2014, the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term. For almost all of those filibusters cloture was invoked successfully.

    I don’t think the problem is the structure of the House, Senate, or electoral vote. I think it is driven almost entirely by the emergence of politics as identity and warfare. Compromise is almost entirely unheard of. There is no regular order of committees hearing and refining and sending bills to the floor. All legislative decisions are made in a half dozen blockbuster bills with hard partisan lines drawn. It’s almost literally trench warfare.

    The solution lies in a populace which stops being seduced by hyper-adversarial identity politics. Things actually were better when there was a fairness doctrine and people got their news from Walter Cronkite and not @RagingRight or @LoonyLeft Facebook and Twitter feeds. We’ve met the enemy, and it is the carnival barker politicians who are more worried about their Instagram feeds than their legislative duties, and a public which has bought into this cultism.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I'm not defending the filibuster in the slightest; I think we should get rid of it today. But it was not invented to 'protect white supremacy'.
    I never said it was invented to. So, here you go, inventing.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    Part 3: so what ails us?

    I think Keith’s chart nails it. The filibuster and cloture votes were exceedingly rare before 1971.
    The filibuster doubled in 2007-2008, the last two years of George W. Bush, while the Democrats held the Senate.
    The filibuster doubled again in 2013-2014, the beginning of Barack Obama’s second term. For almost all of those filibusters cloture was invoked successfully.

    I don’t think the problem is the structure of the House, Senate, or electoral vote. I think it is driven almost entirely by the emergence of politics as identity and warfare. Compromise is almost entirely unheard of. There is no regular order of committees hearing and refining and sending bills to the floor. All legislative decisions are made in a half dozen blockbuster bills with hard partisan lines drawn. It’s almost literally trench warfare.

    The solution lies in a populace which stops being seduced by hyper-adversarial identity politics. Things actually were better when there was a fairness doctrine and people got their news from Walter Cronkite and not @RagingRight or @LoonyLeft Facebook and Twitter feeds. We’ve met the enemy, and it is the carnival barker politicians who are more worried about their Instagram feeds than their legislative duties, and a public which has bought into this cultism.
    the populace isn’t. Republicans are. It’s not “both sides”. It’s a hyper partisan rightwing machine, which can be traced back to well, 1971/72 and the hyper fearful “conservatives” of the US

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    It matches the history provided by the Senate. The filibuster was an informal thing until 1917 when cloture was invented. It was then rarely used until 1971. In neither piece do I see a connection which you made to preservation of white supremacy. In fact, the filibuster didn’t stop the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, etc.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    It matches the history provided by the Senate.
    No, it doesn’t, it clearly points out
    The House and Senate rulebooks in 1789 were nearly identical. Both rulebooks included what is known as the “previous question” motion. The House kept their motion, and today it empowers a simple majority to cut off debate. The Senate no longer has that rule on its books.
    What happened to the Senate’s rule? In 1805, Vice President Aaron Burr was presiding over the Senate (freshly indicted for the murder of Alexander Hamilton), and he offered this advice. He said something like this. You are a great deliberative body. But a truly great Senate would have a cleaner rule book. Yours is a mess. You have lots of rules that do the same thing. And he singles out the previous question motion. Now, today, we know that a simple majority in the House can use the rule to cut off debate. But in 1805, neither chamber used the rule that way. Majorities were still experimenting with it. And so when Aaron Burr said, get rid of the previous question motion, the Senate didn’t think twice. When they met in 1806, they dropped the motion from the Senate rule book.
    whereas the senate site pretends it has always been thus.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    the populace isn’t. Republicans are. It’s not “both sides”. It’s a hyper partisan rightwing machine, which can be traced back to well, 1971/72 and the hyper fearful “conservatives” of the US
    It certainly is a predominantly right-wing disease. But the left is not uninflected.

    The link to 1971-1972 seems highly tenuous. In those years under Nixon and a democratic congress we got the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the EPA, Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Marine Mammals Act, OSHA, title IX, Medicare amendments and creation of SSI. When I worked for Congress from 1981-1985, bipartisan bill sponsorship and votes were commonplace.

    I think right wing media and the elimination of the fairness doctrine made us sick. I think the ghettoization of news and information by Facebook and Twitter have nearly killed us.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    I never said it was invented to. So, here you go, inventing.
    Sam? Sam? Is that you?

    'The filibuster came about as a kludge to protect white supremacy', to quote you accurately. No, it didn't. It was used against civil rights legislation, but that's not how it came about.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    downward bound
    Posts
    7,562

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Sam? Sam? Is that you?

    'The filibuster came about as a kludge to protect white supremacy', to quote you accurately. No, it didn't. It was used against civil rights legislation, but that's not how it came about.
    It wasn’t used to protect slavery? Your stats back to the senate rule change of 1917 sure show that!

    man, now tell us what the Democrats of 1917 believed in Keith!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    No, it doesn’t, it clearly points out


    whereas the senate site pretends it has always been thus.
    I see very little difference between two good accounts. The House and Senate each have fairly complex rules. The main difference is that the House uses the Rules Committee to set the rules for consideration of all bills, under tight schedules. Each side has designated time to speak, and usually limitations on which amendments can be offered. These provisions are voted for at the beginning of each Congress, at the same time the votes are held for Speaker and Minority leader.

    The Senate has few such rules, other than parliamentary precedent. The Senate can impose rules for debating a bill, but that motion is debated in the Senate floor. The Senate Rules Committee is historically weak and deferential to the Senate leaders.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    The filibuster was used in attempts to block many different kinds of legislation. One use was to 'protect white supremacy', particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, although the attempts largely failed. But that is not primarily why it 'came about'.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  27. #27
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    It wasn’t used to protect slavery? Your stats back to the senate rule change of 1917 sure show that!

    man, now tell us what the Democrats of 1917 believed in Keith!
    Congress was at each other’s throats in the 15 or so years leading up to the Civil War. There were physical attacks between members. The 1850 Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 were heatedly debated, but I’m not aware of a filibuster used. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compro...te_and_results

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Sharon, MA
    Posts
    24,247

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    Norm I think a more historical lens is required. The last six years have seen partisan extremism and obstructionism not seen since maybe pre-civil war. But i think the blockage we’ve seen is more due to the parties refusing to compromise and scorched earth politics than it does a systematic failure.
    I certainly can't disagree with that, Cris... but I don't think it can be argued that the structural elements of how both the House and Senate operate don't contribute to that mindset and environment.

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    Part 1: the House. The House is supposed to directly represent the people. Many of my liberal friends insist the House is broken because of the filibuster. I think they doth protest too loudly: since World War II Democrats have held more seats than their popular votes. Gerrymandering is bad and should be eliminated, but it’s hard for a Liberal to say that the House under-represents them.
    True, of the House... but NOT true of the Senate. It was pointed out, in an article recently, that senators representing a mere 11% of the population can completely block a vote via the filibuster (not saying it has happened, only saying that it CAN, mathematically).

    The apparent attitude of the Founding Fathers was that the 'States', via their own elected or appointed leaders, represented some sort of monolithic and uniform mindset of it's own inhabitants, and therefore deserved equal treatment in the Senate. my argument is that this idea, if it was ever accurate, is certainly inaccurate today. The example of the ultra right wing northern Georgia population, compared to the far more liberal counties and suburban districts surrounding Atlanta, bear this out.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  29. #29
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    St. Paul, MN Mississippi River Milepost 840.2
    Posts
    13,503

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Norm, I agree that the Founding Fathers assumed a certain homogeneity among those who voted: namely, white men. Until 1828, in most states, property owning white men.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA USA
    Posts
    14,055

    Default The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Ross View Post
    It matches the history provided by the Senate. The filibuster was an informal thing until 1917 when cloture was invented. It was then rarely used until 1971. In neither piece do I see a connection which you made to preservation of white supremacy. In fact, the filibuster didn’t stop the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, etc.
    Up until 1970 or so, to filibuster, one had to talk, and talk, and talk, thereby preventing a motion for cloture to be made. And it stopped the business of the Senate - senators had to be in the Senate, because the cloture threshold is of those present, not of the total number of senators.

    That requirement was removed. And the filibuster has metastasized to the point where it is now a mere formality. Senators X says, "I filibuster", and if those opposing lack the cloture majority, the bill is tabled, never to be brought up again.

    Before 1970, a filibuster came with a cost to those who wielded it, and a cost to the Senate itself.

    The modern filibuster is cost-free.

    Mitch McConnell's strategy as Majority leader, however, was not the filibuster: it was that he would put no issue - bill or confirmation - on the agenda of the Senate unless it had the support of a majority of the GOP caucus. That turned the Senate into the place where bills went to die, killing bipartisanship as collateral damage.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    508

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post

    Today, the only way anyone would know they were crossing from one state, to the other, would be if there was a sign; the border between South Attleboro, MA, and Pawtucket, RI, doesn’t exist.. it’s just a continuation of exurban landscape. Those signs are probably even more important, when crossing from New Mexico, to Arizona. Exactly how different are the interests of the residents of Kansas City, KS, from those living in Kansas City, MO, just across the river?
    Interesting thoughts and I don't disagree with most of what you say. The original intent was to bind the states together more so than to bind the people from one state to the the the people of the other states. The states (particularly the rural ones) did not want to lose their voice because they were less populace so they wanted to make change a slow and difficult process. Times have changed and mobility is much greater now.

    However I don't think the differences between states hinge so much on geography (crossing state line) as culture and values. You could put me in an unfamiliar part of Attleboro, and I could most likely recognize (after talking with people there) that I am in Massachusetts and similarly with Pawtucket that I am in Rhode Island. I still feel our states are quite different with one-another. I have traveled the South a lot in the past few years and I see noticeable differences from one state to the next.
    Last edited by Boatbum; 03-03-2021 at 11:51 AM.

  32. #32
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    There is at least as much difference between one city and another, even within a state, as there is between states. Austin and Houston. San Francisco and San Diego. And there is a much greater difference between cities and small towns/rural areas than between most states - maybe not Massachusetts and Alabama, but there's certainly far more difference between Minneapolis-St Paul and rural Minnesota then there is between Minnesota and Iowa or Wisconsin or Illinois.

    States in 1789 were separate things; getting from Georgia to New Hampshire could take months. Recognizing that was essential to making a country. States in 2021 are essentially administrative districts, and there is no possible justification, other than small states wanting to retain disproportionate power, for a Senator to represent 300,000 people in Wyoming or Vermont, while a senator from Texas represents 13 million people, and one from California 20 million (2010 numbers).
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    508

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post

    States in 2021 are essentially administrative districts, and there is no possible justification, other than small states wanting to retain disproportionate power, for a Senator to represent 300,000 people in Wyoming or Vermiont, while a senator from Texas represents 13 million people, and one from California 20 million (2010 numbers).
    Though I concede you might be right, I suspect that it is more a case of not wanting to be steamrolled by more populace states than to gain excessive power. I don't believe that small states want to control the large ones, they just don't the large ones to dictate to them..

    Maybe its time for a constitutional convention to iron out many of these issues and differences.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    St. Paul, MN, USA
    Posts
    58,749

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    I would say that the government should represent human beings, not states. There is no conceivable reason that a voter in Vermont should have 42X the representation in the Senate as a voter in Texas.

    However, since any constitutional amendment requires a 2/3 majority in the Senate and a 3/4 majority of states, it's more likely that I'll ride to work next week on a sparkly p0ink unicorn than that I'll ever see it changed.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Sharon, MA
    Posts
    24,247

    Default Re: The Tyranny of the Superminority

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I would say that the government should represent human beings, not states. There is no conceivable reason that a voter in Vermont should have 42X the representation in the Senate as a voter in Texas.

    However, since any constitutional amendment requires a 2/3 majority in the Senate and a 3/4 majority of states, it's more likely that I'll ride to work next week on a sparkly p0ink unicorn than that I'll ever see it changed.
    It is one of the fundamental flaws of our constitution: any positive change which might result in more equality, freedom, or democracy, can be overruled by senators and congressmen whose personal interests will predominate... and there's little in the constitution to prevent that.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •