The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “senate”

Anthony Gregory on Rand Paul’s Senate Filibuster

Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster in the U.S. Senate was one of the most exciting events to take place in Washington in the eyes of Independent Institute Research Fellow Anthony Gregory.

Our friend David Theroux over at the Independent Institute sent over this great recap video. (Theroux is also the president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California.)

Read More:
http://www.independent.org/multimedia/detail.asp?m=335

Read More KuypComm Posts about Rand Paul:

The Religious Motive Behind Rand Paul’s Filibuster

Rand Paul Is Still My Senator

The Eagle’s Constitution – A Story of Liberty

Once upon a time, all the eagles had forgotten they were eagles. They used to live in high mountain eyries, but someone had convinced them they ought to be living on a farm. They still called themselves eagles, but they had little memory of what their make up was capable of; they had little imagination that their very constitution would allow them to fly. Instead they hunted and pecked. They were sometimes called back to books about the old mountain life, books written by their founding feathers, but mostly the eagles mentioned these ideas in passing, and with little reference to the actual books.

The eagles would get together to vote on important matters. When they would get together, they were often led by a couple of strange birds named Main and Grand. They were odd eagles. They didn’t look like eagles, but they did a really good job of doing what they said was a really good job. They were experts at hunting and pecking for corn.

One of the eagles was not like the others. He was not content to walk slowly around the farm, and to scratch at the dirt. He was alway suggesting they should try to move faster. We should run – he would say, looking to the skies. Read more…

Failed Filibuster Reforms

mrsmithgoestowash

Even while they mesmerized and romanticized me as a boy I knew in my heart of hearts that Frank Capra movies never quite approximated real life. Thanks to that healthy cynicism I was not deeply shaken by the recent hubbub over filibuster reforms, but it doesn’t bode well for the state of the union.

Discussion of the proposed reforms has been somewhat overshadowed by more visible issues (i.e. guns, etc.), but forecasts better than most the difficulties facing the American democratic process in the coming years.

In a surprising show of opposition to members of his own caucus, Harry Reid blocked the efforts of several freshman Democrat senators to reform the filibuster by rendering it impossible to initiate or, at the least, returning in practice to the “talking filibuster” of the last century. As it now stands, minority Republicans can force a 60-vote threshold on nearly any business that comes to the floor and, because the threat of a filibuster has come to carry the force of a filibuster, this can often be done by a single senator without his even needing to be present on the floor. No Mr. Smith reading the Constitution, no Bernie Sanders giving a marathon speech; just a stern phone call.

Debate on the issue has revealed that some on the left (at least implicitly) understand “democracy” to mean the licensing of a majority to railroad the political minority, and we obviously find ourselves at odds with such a notion. But neither should we be quick to look past the conduct of the Republican minority—effectively requiring a super-majority for all senate business. On the question of congressional super-majorities Alexander Hamilton had the following to say:

“its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.” (Fed. 22)

James Madison likewise wrote that

“In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule; the power would be transferred to the minority.” (Fed. 58)

The recent talks represented an opportunity to moderate between the two extremes. But reform didn’t come.

The likeliest motivation behind Reid’s decision to block most of the reforms is the consideration that his own party may soon lose their majority in the Senate. Rather than attempt to check a dangerous trend in congressional procedure, veteran Democratic senators want to hedge their bets, reserving their right to substitute their pleasure and caprice for “regular deliberations and decisions” and “embarrass a [Republican] administration” that will no doubt be looking to do some railroading of its own. Ostensibly the discussion of filibuster reforms ended in a compromise between Reid and the Senate minority leader, but the outcome presages only further breakdown of democracy.

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