Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The public option died last summer

Washington Post editorial "The public option died last summer" (December 15th, 2009) is hysterical in its misinterpretation of majority rule in the Senate.

The undemocratic Senate, which vastly over-represents conservative states and rural interests, has become even more undemocratic by the over-use of the filibuster, which gives tiny minorities -- sometimes a minority of one -- the power to kill proposals supported by the vast majority of its members.

Political commentators of all stripes, of course, like to call their opponents maneuvers undemocratic. Republicans might observe that the majority of the country polls against health reform in its current form, while Democrats may observe that a majority of Representatives and Senators are for it.

The post's "focus" on the marginal individual, however, causes them to become preposterous, imagining that because the marginal individual decides an issue, the minority of one is the one killing it. The ability of that singleton is contingent on forty other Senators agreeing with him. A bit like saying that, in a room of 99 people, split 49-49, the 50th vote is a minority vote deciding the outcome.

Just as the Senate balances Congress, and the Legislature balances the Judiciary and Executive, so too can the "vast majority" the author balance the individual "minority of one." All it requires is 60 votes to end a filibuster.

The post's commentary is sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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