Jimmy Stewart filibustering in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
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We have an abundance of gifted, capable people.
It is the prevalence of uninformed (and therefore inept) citizens -- and the politicians they elect -- who prefer gridlock to action.
As long as we "do nothing," inaction seems to cost nothing.
Not surprisingly, inertia has a certain appeal.
As a people, we have come to believe that nothing is possible unless “we” can accomplish it “our own way.”
And so, refusal to compromise has developed such a “head of steam” in American culture that "half" the people refuse to compromise with the other "half."
Now that filibuster has become the final legislative hurdle, no significant legislation can be enacted unlless there is a 60% super-majority.
Unfortunately (if not tragically) we have, over time, developed a political system in which “half” the people refuse - absolutely refuse - to accommodate any proposal by the other “half.”
Keeping in mind that no system is perfect, we would be better off if we returned to the status quo ante -- before The Intransigence set in – a nearly forgotten time when a simple majority ruled.
It is true that, “back then," one party would go too far, then the "other" party would come to power to correct the excess.
As long as both parties could get things done with a simple majority, there was real accomplishment.
True, real accomplishment would be followed by real excess, but then that excess would be followed by the antidote of “The Other Party” which would, in turn, undertake real accomplishments, followed, inevitably, by real excess, which would again evoke the antidote of “The Other Party,” etcetera, ad infinitum.
If we really believe in majority rule – which has always been the heart of our two party system – then shared belief will insure real progress, punctuated by periods of housecleaning in which Democrats clean up after Republican excess, and Republicans clean up after Democratic excess.
However, as long as our newly-refurbished filibuster requires a 60% plurality rather than a 50% majority in order for any significant legislation to be passed, the legislative accomplishment of anything really important will be vanishingly rare.
Take a look at the following chart entitled "U.S. Presidential Elections by Popular Vote Margin" and notice that only three presidential candidates ever received 60% of the popular vote, and not one of these three cleared 61%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presidential_elections_by_popular_vote_margin
Fundamentally, American government is dysfunctional because there is widespread refusal to compromise coupled with recent "refurbishment" of the filibuster so that it is now necessary to secure a 60% Senate super-majority before ANY significant legislation can pass. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster_in_the_United_States_Senate
This situation is sufficiently dire that it is not hard to imagine our democratic process degenerating to such an extent that only an authoritarian coup could muster enough political power to break the deadlock.
Pax on both houses
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2012 1:09 PM
Subject: Fw: 1 word says it all