Death of a Nation

Obama Administration

The best analysis I’ve seen so far about why the gun control vote failed is Ezra Klein’s

The gun vote failed because of the way the Senate is designed. It failed because the Senate wildly overrepresents small, rural states and, on top of that, requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass most pieces of legislation.

The Manchin-Toomey bill received 54 aye votes and 46 nay votes. That is to say, a solid majority of senators voted for it. In most legislative bodies around the world, that would have been enough. But it wasn’t a sufficient supermajority for the U.S. Senate.

Of the senators from the 25 largest states, the Manchin-Toomey legislation received 33 aye votes and 17 nay votes — a more than 2:1 margin, putting it well beyond the 3/5ths threshold required to break a filibuster. But of the senators from the 25 smallest states, it received only 21 aye votes and 29 nay votes.

I’d like to see this broken down by population — the senators representing X million defeated the senators representing xxx million people. Whatever the numbers, what it tells us is that the legislative branch of the federal government has become utterly dysfunctional and unresponsive to the will of the people.

And it isn’t just the gun bill; it’s everything. It’s appointments to federal agencies and the bench. It’s the future of entitlement programs, and health care, and stimulus spending. Etc., etc. If this can’t be changed, then I see nothing ahead for the U.S. but long, slow (or not so slow) decline.

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  1. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 18, 2013 @1:06 pm

    We keep hearing about the “Real ‘Murkanz,” in the “Heartland” or “Homeland” – FSM, how I hate those terms.

    The truth of the matter is that we City-folks, and Suburban-folks, far outnumber those considered to be “Real ‘Murkanz.”
    And the Heartland where the “Real Americans” live, is either a city, or the area sorrounding it.

    But instead of equal representation for us “Real Americans”, we have states represented by two Senators, that also have only one, two, or three Congressmen.
    WTF’s Upwidat?
    How does that make ANY feckin’ sense?

    It doesn’t.
    Or at least it hasn’t since telephones replaced telegraphs, electricity was harnessed for use in peoples homes, cars replaced horses, planes got you somewhere quicker than trains, we got off the gold standard, radio and TV replaced reading the Bible by candlelight, computers not only became faster and better at calculating than a person with an abacus, but could also beat a human in chess, and you can talk or text to pretty much anyone in the world who has a phone, computer, or comparable hand-held device.

    Technology and economics can’t be slowed down while “The Worlds Most Obstinate Against Change, non-Deliberative Body” twiddles its thumbs, waiting for their colleague from some Red State to finish talking about why religion and profits trump science and society, while at the same time he/she is signing the backs of checks from corporations, the NRA, and the grifters from small and mega churches.

    All it’ll take is another little jiggle or two, and we’ll flush ourselves down the sh*tter.
    And you know what, I’m getting a little dizzy going ’round and ’round in circles, being pee’d and pooped on – so maybe a good flush is what we all need.
    Or, at least, those who’ll survive.

  2. JR  •  Apr 18, 2013 @1:34 pm

    Who here thinks the Senate Republicans are going to kill the 60 vote option the second they get the majority?

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 18, 2013 @1:41 pm

    CALL ON ME, MR. JR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Dolorous Stroke  •  Apr 18, 2013 @1:49 pm

    I don’t think they need to, JR. There will always be Democrats who will vote with them, either “in the interest of bipartisanship,” or “to do the job we were sent to Washington to do,” or “because elections have consequences,” or some other excuse.

  5. Ian  •  Apr 18, 2013 @2:11 pm

    DS … I share your opinion that they probably won’t need to, but I most definitely do not share your opinion that the things you mentioned qualify as “excuses”.

    Fact is, the 60 vote filibuster threshhold should not be a barrier to getting things done, if all parties involved are interested in actually, you know, governing. It’s only when we are in a situation like we are in now where one of the two parties has utterly abdicated their responsibility to actually govern the country they were elected to govern in favor of making sure that it is impossible for the opposing party to govern … in hopes people will realize that government is broken without realizing that it is broken because one of the two parties deliberately broke it.

    I’m as much a fan as the next guy of comletely redesigning the way the senate works in order to make it impossible to do what the republicans have done and are doing, but I am not a fan at all of encouraging our people to be just as boneheadedly stubbern as the republicans in blocking absolutely everything when/if we become the minority again. A filibuster should be the exception, not the rule, and I will expect my party to honor that.


  6. Pat  •  Apr 18, 2013 @2:50 pm

    I’ev taken to parroting what I heard so often from conservatives regarding the patriot act — if you’re a law-abiding citizen what do you have to fear from a background check?

    But I hardly think Klein explains the phenomenon in its entirety. Perhaps, in part, we are seeing the fruits of a successful NRA protection racket by which the threat of pinpointed, well-financed campaign opposition can be wielded quite successfully when there is no well-organized opposition.

    Dem leadership should run with the fact that the Senate has stood down 90% of the electorate. Reid should have forced them to filibuster. The GOP has leveraged drama and theatre constantly and then when the ball gets dropped right in the Dems laps what do they do?

  7. Dolorous Stroke  •  Apr 18, 2013 @4:20 pm

    Well said, Ian. Under normal circumstances, they are reasons, not excuses, for working with the other side.

    But as you said, these are not normal circumstances. If today’s Republicans retake the Senate, it pains me to think that Democrats will vote with them to further undermine environmental protection, worker protection, voting rights, public health, public safety, and on and on and on. In that situation, with Democrats doing the bidding of plutocrats — and being compensated for it — I think the word “excuse” is appropriate.

  8. joanr16  •  Apr 18, 2013 @4:33 pm

    Holy cow, you guys. Re the Giant Texas Kaboom:

    The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) acknowledged today that it only inspects plants like West Fertilizer on the basis of complaints. The most basic interpretation of that statement is that a mechanical issue has to be failing so badly that someone outside of the facility is able to notice and then file a complaint to the state agency. A worried employee providing information would be the only other cause to investigate. According to TCEQ records, the plant has not been inspected since 2006 after a nearby resident complained of a “strong ammonia smell.” A fine was issued for a “failure to apply for or obtain a permit.”

    I would say our decline, at this point, is “not so slow.”

  9. Swami  •  Apr 18, 2013 @5:04 pm

    Perry is crying for federal disaster aid..Gee, what happened to that go it alone Lone Star state spirit? Weren’t we contemplating seceding from the Union to get away from all those freeloading entitlement types who refuse to pull themselves up by their bootstraps?
    I think Aesop has a fable that fits this situation…

  10. Philo Vaihinger  •  Apr 18, 2013 @7:03 pm

    Well, it’s always nice when somebody finally gets it.

  11. maha  •  Apr 18, 2013 @7:36 pm

    Philo Vaihinger — And maybe some day you will.

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