Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Short: Those dastardly senators

Here's some interesting reading on how a nasty Senate maneuver started. The article talks about a Senate trick called "filling up the amendment tree" (sounds like Christmas?), but it could be about any number of Senate tactics. The article is short, the comments are intelligent and add to the story, so definitely worth two minutes.

The story is a reminder: It's definitely naive to think that everything X party does is fair and justified, and everything the other party does is low and contemptible. So many of the maneuvers are recycled, started by one side, perfected by the other, reviled when employed against your side instead of for it. Hypocrisy is the order of the day in our highest legislative body. Democracy continues to be the worst form of government except for all the others.

From such an appropriate source:


Dangerous said...

I don't mean to nitpick, but we do not have "Democracy" as a form of government. We have a republic, a Constitutional republic, but it is not better than every other form. We also have a federalist republic of sovereign states with a bi-cameral legislature with equal representation in one house for each state.

Our form of government in the country is not perfect. It may be the best devised so far, but I think there are other countries out there that would disagree.

Democracy with guaranteed civil liberties may be better than all others -- although probably unworkable in practice in a country this size -- but our current system is subject to gerrymandered districts in place for a decade. The Senate, already hardly a democratic body due to gross underrepresentation for different citizens, has rules that stifle a strict majority vote.

In the House, one person votes on behalf of hundreds of thousands -- but really just follow party leadership and spin to their constituents to hold their seats.

We have a dysfunctional republic here. The separation of powers works rather well -- and most countries do not have that -- and peaceful transfer of authority for over two centuries.

But it's also fair to say we have a cold civil war going on these days. People like you, MP, lament it and don't want to chose sides. This stance is admirable in a way, but doesn't do much to warm things up. Perhaps it's the loss of a geopolitical foe that's produced the dysfunction. One could argue the stalemate will allow problems to work themselves out. There's some truth in that outlook.

Because of the nature of our imperfect system, we are guaranteed political trench warfare until an overriding circumstances occurs that moves the public to demand action.

I'd favor a new Constitutional Convention to fix the stalemate.

ModeratePoli said...

@Dangerous, It's my turn to call you naive. There's no way we'll have a constitutional convention in this trench-warfare situation. (Trench warfare - a metaphor I've used myself.)

If we were to change our government, maybe each side would try to change voting rules to their benefit, and make it so that they could exercise more power with greater ease when they were in power.

My response is to gag. The problem is not our form of government, it's temporary (I hope) quirk in current society. We should sleep in our bed until we clean it up. This progressive desire to fix things is often counterproductive, and I'm not going to reach for it.

I think progressives/liberals would be wise to restrain themselves too. How about this time you just let things get as bad as their going to get. Continue pointing out the problems, and help the electorate be informed, but don't try to undo the situation through new means. Use just good old elections.

Anastasios said...

Chuckle. That, of course, is not how things work. No one is going to be quiet. No one is going to move to the center to attract support. No one is going to stop trying to fix things, whether from the right or the left. No one is going to defy their own activists for very long or on very many things. No one particularly cares what the largely non-potent center thinks or wants, despite rhetoric in that direction. That, as Bernstein never tires of pointing out, just is not what politics is about. So I am afraid you are just doomed to unhappiness and frustration, MP. Sorry about that. That is why you would be much better off to throw I with some side or faction and ride out the storm, otherwise I am afraid all you are going to get is rained on.

ModeratePoli said...


HAHAHAHA. Do you think I could choose a side? It would have to be a forced conversion, but there's no one who can do that to me. So it's not going to happen.

Besides, I'm not deeply unhappy as a cynical moderate. I get to laugh at everyone and the absurd things they do for party. Haven't you noticed me enjoying that?

Anastasios said...

No, as a matter of fact I haven't MP. Nobody who is happy enjoys going on rants. You have every right to object to anything you want. For all I know, you may be right in your judgments. But if it is the great weakness of fanatics that in their deepest heart they have doubt, it is the great weakness of cynics that in their deepest hearts they are disappointed and long to be proven wrong. Popcorn wisdom, I suppose, but correct nonetheless. You once reminded me that the country is full of good people. I now remind you that, for better or worse, their are only two parties in American politics, and ultimately all that happens with policy is because of them and their decisions. If they are both deeply flawed and equally mistaken so be it, but the fact still remains that at the end of the day only they speak with formal power, and only they can address the problems you see.

ModeratePoli said...


I'm going to trust my own assessment of whether I'm happier as an independent over your assessment of my happiness.

If you read a great deal of unhappiness into my writings, it may be what you're bringing. Text is especially prone to projection because you don't get any of the tones that accompany speech.

Please trust me--I'm fine, I'm not despondent, and there's no way I'm joining either echo chamber as an active participant in group self-deception. I wouldn't be a big enough voice within a party to make enough difference, but I'm not ambitious in that way anyhow, so it doesn't bother me.