The Tyranny of the Minority

In the beginning…

Arguments were made that a truly representative legislature would expose the states with fewer people to the tyranny of the more populous states. Thus was born the unrepresentative legislative body called the Senate, where each state gets 2 representatives regardless.

I almost get the logic of that… not really… but I can understand the fear. But all this solution to that problem does is set up tyranny of the minority over the majority. Which is actually what tyranny is, so “tyranny of the minority” is kind of redundant. Tyranny of the majority we call “democracy” or “representative republic.”

This tyranny of the minority could have been mitigated if, as is the case with a couple of states, electors for the president are selected for each state based on the percentage of people who voted for each candidate, rather than the common practice of all of a state’s electors going to the popular winner of that state’s general election. And that the number of electors for each state is the combined number of senators and congresspersons, so it is, at the outset, not representative of the population. It is a fact that a democratic presidential candidate has won the popular vote in 7 out of the last 8 elections, but only got elected president in 5 out of those same last 8 elections. How can we call ourselves a democracy or even republic, when this happens?

Then throw in the filibuster to the Senate rules, a rule designed to allow the minority to block legislation that the majority of the representatives want, and we now have a system where the minority effectively dictates what can and cannot be done. And this is a minority that plays dirty, whose ethics and ideals change proportionally to the amount of personal benefit gained, and they have no shame about it. The filibuster requiring 60 votes to overcome no matter how many senators are in attendance is ludicrous, thus allowing 35 votes to win out over 54 votes. How can we call ourselves a democracy? In a true republic shouldn’t a simple majority of representatives be able to pass legislation? Even, or especially, if those representatives are not a representation of the true population, like the senate?

Yes, democrats have used the filibuster to block legislation when they have been in the minority, but not nearly to the degree that republicans have and not nearly with the same level of hypocrisy. Republicans use it to block even popular ideas, even ideas popular with republican voters, like federal gun control measures, access to health care, and other popular social services. They use it to block things that they traditionally supported just because they do not want to give the democrats the “win” and credit for said popular legislation. And when the minority fail to block a bill despite their best efforts, they still go back to their home states and extol the virtues of the money their state is going to get that will help people and the economy, never mentioning that, oh yeah, I voted against you getting all these goodies.

We need to get rid of the filibuster, or make it a true talking filibuster, where you can’t just recite war and peace or endlessly repeat yourself. You have to talk on point about the bill on the floor for a vote, you have to make cogent, even if not compelling, arguments as to why you are against the bill, you cannot repeat any argument more than three times (it is a common rhetorical style to repeat things 3 times so they sink in), and you cannot lapse into silence for longer than it takes to pause for a drink or a quick bite to eat, or a bathroom break, but no sleep breaks. 15 minute breaks every 4 hours, just like most of the labor force. If you are going to call yourselves the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” I kind of think you should, you know, deliberate. Of course, every Senator should have their time to talk, but all must follow the same rules. Yeah, a vote could still be delayed for a long time, but patience can wait it out. But just sharing one’s intent to filibuster, and that being able to stand forever, with no debate, no argument, no rationale given, is just plain tyranny of the minority. There is no downside for the tyrant. There is neither check nor balance.

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