Only in the Supreme Court does the majority consistently make policy in Washington.
And most of that majority was nominated by presidents who got fewer votes than their rivals.
A solid majority of Americans – 58 percent today (Gallup) — consistently opposes a ban on abortion. Yet a majority on the highest court appears poised to end that constitutional protection.
In the Senate, the minority rules unless the matter involves the budget. Senators from that minority don’t even have to read Dr. Seuss or the D.C. phone book to stop legislation. They just have to put a marker on it. Shy of 60 votes, it’s the end of discussion.
Climate change. The Electoral College. Gun sanity. Voting rights. The Affordable Care Act. LGBTQ rights. Based on national polls, it’s difficult to find a single controversial debate in which the majority of Americans supports the Republican obstructionist position.
Now we have the ridiculous situation involving vaccinations and masks.
Infections among an unvaccinated minority, much of its vigor ideologically motivated and clustered in red states, swamps hospitals and causes harrowing choices reminiscent of the darkest days of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a vocal anti-mask minority, swooning to panderers like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott, is all too happy to put school children at risk. This is what passes for “pro-life” in 2021.
It’s a continuation of the criminally irresponsible behavior of the previous president with his super-spreader events, his mocking of medical experts.
Hey, hey, MAGA freak; how many kids did you infect this week?
OK. Put the pandemic aside.
What about other vital needs? What about protecting voting rights from scheming partisans?
What about treating gun violence as the public health issue it is?
What about getting serious about the overheating of our planet – the wildfires, the super storms, the death rattle of our waterways, western reservoirs and aquifers?
Minority rule means we will do little about protecting ourselves from natural disasters while letting the minority protest that fixes are too expensive, as the wealthy and the poor maintain their positions.
And so we must end it.
— The filibuster must die. We must put a stake through its heart. As it is, the Senate has become a statue in a ratty park.
As Adam Jentleson writes in his anti-filibuster manifesto Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of Democracy, Republicans in the Senate are “are out of step with the direction of the country,” yet are “consistently able to impose their will on the majority.”
If we can’t kill the filibuster, the representatives of the bill-killing minority should be required to march to the front of the Senate chambers and attempt to talk a bill to death, to literally gum up the works of our democracy as the nation watches.
The filibuster should not be a push-button convenience. It should force a bill’s opponents to stand before the nation and state their case for blockading government “by the people.”
They should have to talk and talk until they collapse or expire on the Senate floor. No food or water. Stand. Don’t sleep. No cots allowed. No restroom breaks.
— We should neuter the Electoral College. I know it can’t be ended via constitutional amendment due to the supermajority requirement. That’s why more states should join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to award their electoral votes to the popular-vote winner. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have done so.
— Should we expand the Supreme Court? Biden has authorized a commission to study it. Nothing is sacrosanct about nine justices. The Republicans chose to ignore the traditional process when President Obama had a nominee. Why should Democrats honor tradition now?
We must break the minority party’s grip on a nation that should be governed by the assent of the people.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.