I do worry what might happen if long run the Tea Party with its populist message becomes the anti-SOPA, anti-Hollywood, maybe even anti-Wall Street Banks party, and the Democrats feel that they need to get their campaign $$$ from Hollywood and Wall Street.
One of the downsides of a two-party system, I suppose...
There is chaos in the GOP because the people are revolting and not voting like they're told, and it is the tea party that is doing it. Maybe you don't know any Tea Partiers where you live, but they are a true grass-roots force.
In the sense that populism can be defined as concerned with the interests of the great masses obviously it's always failed that test.
Every indication is that this is just their standard-for-the-session move to filibuster anything they can as part of their election strategy.
The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said that “no one doubts the need to strengthen our cyberdefenses.”
“We all recognize the problem, that’s really not the issue here,” Mr. McConnell said. “It’s the matter that the majority leader has tried to steamroll a bill,” he said referring to Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada.
It makes me sad to think all of the third party people can't get their stuff together and give us an alternative to the two party system we currently have.
It hard. Because our (the US) system is *really designed for 2 parties. Granted, it sure didn't start out that way. But it's morphed into that.
Both parties protect their ground. And both parties use the courts (and local governments) to make it VERY hard for any 3rd party to gain ground.
Interesting how one week it's a bug, the next week it's a feature.
An efficient government can be a scary thing.
To the degree that politicians have circumvented these circuit breakers, we're turning the system more into a winner-takes-all soundbite/24-hour-news-cycle fight.
It's a feature. My (subtle?) point was that when gridlock comes up most people have no idea what they're talking about. Usually "gridlock" just means "my guys are being thwarted by the other guys! That sucks!"
What did James Madison and Hamilton actually think of Polish Diet style supermajorities?
Matt Yglesias directs us to Federalist 17 (Madison with Hamilton):
Ezra Klein directs us to Federalist 75 (Hamilton):
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings...
There are no footnotes in the constitution.
Actually I believe pretty strongly in original intent as spelled-out in the Constitution. The original intent was and is that each House gets to determine their own rules. That does not mean the rules never change after the first Congress met.
Unfortunately for you I am not making that argument.
I am claiming that today's level of gridlock was neither intended by the founders (who left us more then the Constitution as it turns out) nor healthy for our country (cf Poland).
But first a step back. I think the real weak link in the HN culture is to be at its best, we must thoughtfully compose HN comments. The more nuanced and deep the subject matter, the more time it takes to compose thoughtful, valuable content, and the longer that composition must be, often being an essay on its own. That's time taken from the rest of our lives. I'm as guilty as anyone, more guilty than some, of attempting to pack more meaning into less time with pithy, succinct replies. Of course this tactic is counterproductive and only diminishes the conversation.
To your point: at the time or our nation's founding, there was only one social question in the political realm, slavery. Yes, there was also demagoguing about the Revolutionary War debt, and taxing distilled spirits affected some socio-economic groups more than others, but by and large the People expected the Federal government to decide matters of State, war and peace, Indian affairs, tariffs, and (most importantly) any legislation requiring expenditure also made provisions for meeting the expenditure.
Freedom of the Press literally meant 18th century movable type. Jefferson was free to concoct lies about Hamilton behind the cloak of anonymity, but it took some time to spread, and Congress, by and large, could deliberate at its leisure the few affairs in actually had to decide.
Gradually (after the overriding social affair in politics blew-up into the Civil War) more social questions came into political consideration: womens' suffrage, the ten, then eight-hour work day, worker safety, product safety, civil rights...much of these social improvements held to be either under the umbrella of the regulating commerce clause, or the 14th Amendment.
Then some really big changes crept in, almost unnoticed. First the income tax, which was sold as only applying to the ultra-rich. In very short order it applied to everyone, and eventually in a crafty accounting trick it became a withholding tax instead of a tax you have to go through the pain of paying. Just as significantly, sometime around WWI (if I recall correctly) Congress changed the rules so all expenditures roll-up into one (or a handful, I'm fuzzy on exactly how it works) appropriations bill. Now Congress is free to pass out social goods without paying for them.
The evolution from the hassle of movable type to the 24-hour always on news cycle does not need elaboration, but I will observe that frequently the info-tainment industry couches every emotion-laden problem imaginable in terms of the the government must/should/can do something about this.
So now we live in an age where every conceivable issue can be considered for legislation, and always-on sources of information/propaganda compete for the public's, the beurocrat's, and the legislature's attention. So is it really a good idea to ramrod every item the legislature considers through on a 51-49 vote? Tomorrow the count could easily be reversed. There's often emotional appeal made to social legislation of the past (worker safety, civil rights, etc.) and that not going forward with whatever social legislation beign considered today will somehow reverse all the good accomplished in the past, but I submit that on the margin, the increase in good achieved by these past examples was great. When there is no limit to what can be considered by the legislature, then many things will come up for which the realistic increase of good on the margin is small...and the unintended cosequensces are unknown.
Overall I think the gridlock is overrated. If we get some bone headed politicians actually passing laws maybe people will start to care again who gets elected.
In relation to your efficient Government comment.
Checks and balances are good. But the Senate becoming a body that needs 60 votes to get anything done, is not.
I think it's a fallacy to think that the Senate has to pass lots of laws to be an effective organization. I think an even more stringent bar for legislation would produce better legislation rather than more of it.
It's supposed to be the great deliberator, let them deliberate until they have an idea worthy of 60% of the votes.
A related problem is that some things really should get done, such as replacing retired/deceased judges, which the Senate is way behind on due to the practice of the past few terms where basically all nominees get filibustered.
The Senate exists for one reason only: The slaveholding governors of Carolinas, Georgia, et. al would never have ratified the constitution if it was thought that slavery had a snowball's chance in hell of being abolished by the federal government.
It's now a directly elected proportional-representation body, so 60% of Senators in that body would tend to represent a similar proportion of voters.
2) The government is funded by annual appropriations bills. Gridlock results in omnibus continuing resolutions because it takes 60 votes to make any significant changes. Imagine if your business got to the end of every year and said "it's too hard to think up a budget for next year, let's just use the exact same budget as last year." No matter what happened last year.
This notion that majority-rules is a great decision procedure everywhere EXCEPT the US Senate seems very odd to me.
I think an even more stringent bar for legislation would produce better legislation rather than more of it.
Why do you think requiring a supermajority increases the quality of legislation?
One doesn't. And so?
So, can anyone explain to me why corporate boards shouldn't adopt a 60% majority rule as well?
And of course it is arbitrary. In the recent past, the threshold was 66%, not 60%. And in the distant past, Senate norms precluded this sort of arbitrary interference.
Finally, the idea that the 60% threshold leads to more debate is silly. Consider how many judicial nominations are delayed for months but then sail through with 80-100% votes.
Also, while a threat of a filibuster might not lead to more deliberation among the members, it certainly signals to the public that something important might be at stake. At the very least it will cause journalist to report and/or editorialize on the issue.
With regard to judicial nominations, I know that there are some shenanigans but I would also expect an ideal process to look just about identical since the floor vote should be delayed until each senator has performed an independent investigation of the nominee.
I think it's a straw man to say anyone is saying "the Senate has to pass lots of laws to be an effective organization".
He accurately predicted that if both Congress and the White House were controlled by the same party (whatever party) spending would get out of control.
As others have pointed out, gridlock is a feature of the US political system, not a bug.
To balance a budget you have to adjust spending and revenue. To do that you have to pass new bills. This is what happened during the late 1990s: the GOP Congress and the Democratic administration were forced to compromise with one another. They passed a new budget that resulted in the balanced budget.
But during gridlock, it is impossible to get new bills past the 60 vote barrier.
Gridlock does not create new balanced budgets, it creates omnibus continuing resolutions. CR's spend and tax exactly as they did last year. If last year wasn't balanced, next year under a CR will not be balanced either.
It's a feature of all elected governments. You wanna worse gridlock.. sit on on any EU meet.
Sure it's kind of annoying when they're building a highway or something useful but the rest of the time it's a pretty good thing that it moves at the pace of molasses.
The former barrier is being eroded as people have better access to and influence over the public forum. The latter remains a contentious issue to resolve.
The GOP opposed this particular bill because big business opposed it, and the GOP tends to line up with them. Big business opposed it because they thought it would allow the government to regulate cybersecurity more strictly.
Drugs.. Legal! Illegal!
Abortion.. Legal! Illegal!
Copying a floppy, owning a lobster, downloading a file, braiding hair without a license, filming a cop.
I don't know american law and I live here.
No abortion in the final voted-on text, but you appear to be correct on the proposed amendment. Digging through the bowels of thomas.loc.gov, it looks like, somewhat bizarrely, Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed an amendment to the cybersecurity bill that would restrict abortion in Washington, D.C., under the federal government's legislative authority for the federal district:
> SA 2716. Mr. LEE submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill S. 3414, to enhance the security and resiliency of the cyber and communications infrastructure of the United States; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
> At the appropriate place, insert the following:
> SEC. __X. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT.
> (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act''.
> (b) Legislative Findings.--Congress finds and declares the following:
> (1) Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child's entire body and nerves link these receptors to the brain's thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks after fertilization.
2. It's not at all bizarre to see a Republican attach an abortion restriction onto a bill they want to kill.
All bills in the House and Senate are posted by a bot, and editorializing is done in the comments. (The bot is also a github project.)
They'll claim it until someone brings a gun to a theatre and then we're all distracted and wondering what they'll do about this situation.
Even miraculously if people do care what they are going to say is that they are politicians who are responsive to grass roots movements and what the community wants and that they are changing their position to bring the people's message to corrupt fatcats in Washington.
(Ever notice how your politician is honest jim the used car salesman and every other politician is a washington fatcat?)
Something that could keep track of that kind of stuff might be hard because everyone has a bias. But I agree tacking is important!