Friday, November 9, 2012

To filibuster or not to filibuster?

The best way to consider revising the Senate's rules would be to use zero-based budgeting:

That is, supposing we were to have a constitutional convendion and reached the point of determining what rules should be used to govern the Senate--and of those rules, which should be baked into the Constitution.

Let me stipulate that in this hypothetical mission, the Democrats and Republicans each contolled 50 votes in the Senate, and the presidential elections have not yet been held, and all the major opinion polls of likely voters put each team's chances at exactly 50-50.

That is, neither party would have an incentive to jigger the rules to favor the minority or the majority.
So--how would we balance majority vs. minority rights, without regard to the current actual situation or the past four or eight or fifty years?

Some useful principles to use:

1. Transparency: no check or balance should involve anyone being able to gum up the works in secret.

2. Minority rights: while the minority party should be able to slow down particular proceedings; to force issues out of committee for a floor vote; to prevent their will being overrun in secret--at the same time the rules should never permit what would be in effect minority rule.

How about it?

Discussions of this issue are full of tit-for-tatting; hopefully pushing for a zero-based approach can sidestep the endless litary of grievances both sides tend to bring to such debates.

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