Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Member Editorial: Filibuster Reform

Logic and democracy got a kick in the gut in the US Senate last week. Extended background checks on gun purchases were defeated 54 to 45. A clear majority voted for this common sense reform but the 60 filibuster threshold was not met.

The common good also got a knock on the head. How ironic that while Americans were honoring the courage, unity, and sense of community in Boston in response to a horrific bombing, the US Senate ignored the wishes of 90% of the public to represent a loud vocal special interest minority.

Logic was blown into the air. We know that background checks by licensed gun dealers have stopped purchases by unfit citizens. Logic says clearly that closing background check loopholes is a basic necessary step. Fear replaced logic. The NRA threat dissolved backbones.

An arrogant contempt for majority rule was never more blatantly demonstrated. What once was a heroic way for one Senator to slow legislation has been warped into super majority rule. Our constitutional system has checks and balance. House members represent equal number of people. The Senate gives equal power to Senators from small population states and large populations states. Less populated states already have vastly disproportionate power over legislation. Six senators from Alaska, N. Dakota, and Wyoming represent 2,207,479 citizens. Six senators from Cal., Ill., and N.Y. represent 70,480,946 [US census]. To further allow a minority to block majority rule by requiring a super majority of 60 is a gross abuse of majority rule. It gives a minority permanent veto power on the will of the majority. The 60 vote rule is paralyzing our legislative system and making it dysfunctional.

Fear replacing logic, lack of moral courage, and a dysfunctional Senate are shameful roadblocks to meeting our moral commitment to fight to save the lives of innocent children.

Fred Kramer

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