Some will argue in the months to come that the Senate filibuster, insofar as it allows a minority of representatives to stop legislation a majority of representatives support (sometimes). When they do, remember that even more deeply-entrenched and far more problematic law which allows a minority of voters to get legislation passed (via their representatives) which a majority of voters oppose. Which one? The US Senate itself. In this case, as Nick Confessore observes that legal perversity means that even in the wake of the Democrats’ apparent drubbing in the Senate, Democratic Senators represent more Americans than Republican ones:

Brad Plumer calculates that the 44 Democratic senators (plus one independent) who will take seats in the Senate next year actually represent a majority of Americans, albeit a small one. (50.8 percent, if you give each senator half the population of his or her state.) Better numbers still come from Hendrick Hertzberg, who notes here that 41.3 million voters cast their votes for Democratic Senate candidates, compared with the 37.9 million who voted for a Republican. Add in the numbers for folks who weren’t up for re-election, and it turns out that 44 Democratic senators and one independent got the votes of 59.6 million voters, but the 55 Republicans only 57.6 million voters. This is, of course, a consequence of the Senate’s antimajoritarian nature, which privileges smaller-population states over larger ones, combined with the particulars of our current political era, in which Republicans tend to represent those states. But the bottom line is that, come January, Harry Reid will represent the interests of — and be responsible to — more Americans than Bill Frist…it should provide some backbone to the Senate Democrats as they confront the four years ahead, during which the White House and its allies in Congress will attempt to ram through fundamental changes to the American political system…The Democrats not only have the right to contest those policies, including through the parliamentary tactic of filibusters — in the most democratic sense, they have a duty to do so.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s