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View Diary: Dick Durbin speaks of toothless, watered down filibuster reform (163 comments)

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  •  How the "cliff" situation gets resolved (5+ / 0-)

    will tell us all we need to know about whether the fighting populist that Obama ran as this time was for show or for real. With talk about how a deal is in the works this soon making the rounds, I suspect that it was mostly for show. The sooner they reach a deal, the worse it is likely to be. The only way to get a good deal is to first break the Repubs, and that can't have happened this quickly.

    Thing is, if major or really any cuts to social programs are part of the deal, it will lose Dems the midterms--and perhaps deservedly so.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 06:40:56 AM PST

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    •  filibuster issue is outside the "populist" thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, shaharazade

      even if Obama will disappoint on the fiscal curb, he still should want his nominees approved.

      it's baffling.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:34:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it isn't (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, shaharazade, mightymouse

        Alllowing a minority of senators eleced by a minority of voters representing mostly smaller states to obstruct popular legislation is inherently anti-populist.

        So if Obama allows either situation to be resolved in a manner that is more accomodating than is called for or necessary, it's a sure sign that he has not turned into the fighter (or even shrewd strategist) that we hoped he had, more interested in seeming to be "bipartisan" and cutting deals than in doing right.

        But we won't know that for another month or two.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:59:05 AM PST

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        •  I thought you were discussing the Constitution (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gosoxataboy
          Alllowing a minority of senators eleced by a minority of voters representing mostly smaller states to obstruct popular legislation is inherently anti-populist.
          As Andgarden addressed in a thread above the US Constitution allows this exact situation. Look at the red states and look at the populations of most of those states. ID, UT, WY, MO, ND. SD. KS, AR, OK, NE, MS, KY and SC ... that's 26% of the Senate representing just under 31 million Americans or 10% of the population. Of course the GOP does not hold all 26 Senate seats in these states, but they dominate the numbers.

          This means about 90% of America has only 3/4 of the Senate available to represent them. These minority, overwhelmingly pro-GOP small population states have incredibly disproportionate power.

          This is not a matter of Mister Obama's innermost motivations it is a matter of math. Like it or not the US Constitution establishes a system that is decidedly not condusive to populist politics. Like it or not, progressive leaders have to operate in a system in which 25% of the vote is already stacked against them. Those are strong headwinds.

          •  Sounds like an excuse (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kovie, Quicklund

            Just because one thing - the composition of the Senate - is inherently undemocratic, it doesn't follow that everything has to be.

            An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

            by mightymouse on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:16:25 AM PST

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            •  I am not excusing anything (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gosoxataboy

              I am pointing out certain flaws in the system created by our Constitution. Well, flaws if you are a 2012 Democrat and an ace up your sleeve if you are a 2012 Republican.

              There is nothing wrong with going through life with open eyes and a well-worn calculator.

              •  All sorts of ways to minimize the flaws (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Quicklund

                in that moldy old document hacked together by dead white rich men back when over half the country had slaves, not all of which require amendments or even laws. For all the shit he unfairly gets from some lefties for supposedly wanting the US to be ruled by a monarch (which he did, but didn't aggressively advocate for and wisely abandoned), of all the founders I think that Hamilton, the one true outsider, had the best vision for the US political system. No states, one set of laws, and slavery to be ended soon after ratification.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:31:44 AM PST

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                •  Another reason Republicans hate the French? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mightymouse

                  I admit to being surprized and even puzzled when I recently learned France does not have any official regional governments. It's all a federal system. Sure, they have provinces and regions but they are more cultural divisions not political ones.

                  I have to admit my brain ground to a halt at first. "How can that work?" was my American response. I got over it quickly but ingrained impression run deep.

                  I miles away from approaching expert on the Founding Fathers, but Hamilton does seem to be the biggest outside the box thinker. But perhaps one of the worst practical politicians. Well, every time needs someone to be there living ahead of it.

                  •  Actually, he was an amazingly good politician (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Quicklund

                    in that he got most of his major reforms passed by a hostile congress, by being a shrewd, reality-based negotiator and advocate. But Jefferson eventually caught up and out-maneuvered him, helped by Hamilton's own indiscretions.

                    Paine was probably even more radical than Hamilton, but had no real power or patron, unlike Hamilton, and wasn't a practical person, dying in poverty and in disrepute. Of course, he didn't let himself get shot by a scoundrel.

                    And yes, France is based on centralized administration, having "departments" instead of states that all report back to Paris. Efficient and effective in some ways, not so much in others. But had it adopted the American political system, it would likely have been ripped apart by civil war. It almost was, as it is.

                    Then again, Louisiana is modeled on the French system. Not exactly a poster child for good governance. So take that as some sort of lesson.

                    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                    by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:11:43 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  we know these flaws pretty well by this point (0+ / 0-)

                the topic here is filibuster, which is NOT in the constitution and is changeable.

                An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

                by mightymouse on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:50:05 AM PST

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            •  My point exactly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mightymouse, Quicklund

              The founders were universally anti-democratic. Doesn't mean we have to be.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:26:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  The filibuster is nowhere mentioned (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Quicklund, mightymouse

            in the constitution, even though it allows "a minority of senators...to obstruct popular legislation", whether they were elected by a majority or minority of voters. I intentionally conflated a number of problems with our political system, only some of which are, admitedly and regretably, constitutionally mandated.

            To make the house and senate more truly democratic we would of course require much more substantial reform than filibuster reform. It would require major laws if not amendments, and that's not happening any time soon. But we have a chance to do at least filibuster reform, and it would be a crime if we didn't.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:16:34 AM PST

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            •  Above post not to do with the filibuster per se (0+ / 0-)

              It was admittedly a digression inspired by andgarden's comments elsewhere and your paragraph blockquoted above.

              I definitely agree on the need for filibuster reform. But since we know the Senate rewards low-population states with disproportionate power, I think we want to take the long-term aim of reform as opposed to outright elimination. That being said, I do not think Sen Durbin's idea cuts the mustard.

              •  Personally, I'd like to abolish states (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Quicklund, gosoxataboy

                Or at least give them less power and make them more proportionately representative of the national electorate. But that's either never going to happen or is way off in the distant future, so in the meantime we have to do what we can to diminish the inherent flaws of this system.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:33:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  IOW don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Quicklund

              An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

              by mightymouse on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:38:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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