54-35

A damning number.

Setting aside the particulars of a potential 1/6 commission, I would invite all readers to dwell on this number as a testament to the broken nature of our representative system.

It should be noted that 60.7% of the 89 Senators voting voted in favor of moving the process forward to floor action (debate and an actual vote that would only need 50 votes plus the Vice President’s tiebreaker).

I am not going to do the math right now, but I guarantee you that the 54 Senators (48 Democrats and six Republicans) represent far more American citizens than do the 35 who voted against.

This is not representative government.

This is, by any reasonable definition, minority rule. Both in terms of the chamber itself, as well as who is represented by those voting against. As I have noted, I see no defense of counter-majoritarianism in this case.

It is worth noting that two Democrats and nine Republicans did not vote. I have read that Senator Murray (D-WA) missed the vote for family reasons. I have not seen why Senator Sinema (D-AZ) did not vote.

54-35 in favor of investigating a literal insurrection aimed at the US Capitol and that isn’t enough to go forward.

I have to admit, I find that shameful and a clear sign of dysfunction.

FILED UNDER: Democratic Theory, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. flat earth luddite says:

    I find that shameful and a clear sign of providing aid and comfort to our domestic enemies, not disfunction. It’s shameful that so many elected officials have decided to contribute to the fall of the Republic.

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  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    I have not seen why Senator Sinema (D-AZ) did not vote.

    I’ve seen several articles suggesting this is part of an ongoing pattern of Sinema treating her senate position as a no-show job.

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  3. Scott F. says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    When Mitt Romney was booed at a recent Utah GOP convention, he asked of his fellow Republicans, “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

    It’s the right question. It’s the ONLY question that journalists and fellow Senators should pose to the 35 who voted against this commission until such time as they are exhausted by the monotony. These craven politicos may be incapable of feeling shame, but they shouldn’t be allowed to believe, for even a moment, that most of the country views them with contempt.

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  4. Scott F. says:

    @Scott F.: That should be “…they shouldn’t be allowed to believe, for even a moment, that most of the country doesn’t view them with contempt…”

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  5. CSK says:

    @Scott F.:
    I think they view that as a badge of honor. Or at least, the purport to view it as a badge of honor.

    Most of them have the exact same problem as Trump: They know the elite view them with contempt.

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  6. Tony W says:

    Part of the problem with the filibuster is that failing to show up is a “no” vote.

    54-35 is 60.6% – or 3/5 of the people who bothered to vote

    Perhaps, as an interim step toward eventual, actual justice, we could agree to a rule where the minority needed 40 votes in order to prevent cloture, rather than 60 votes to invoke it.

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  7. de stijl says:

    The Senate was intended as a counterweight to majoritarian impulsivity. Where rational gentlemen would quell potentially disastrous legislation coming out of the House of Representatives what with their direct democratic voting.

    We wanted to rid ourselves of the British and yet we included the equivalent to the House Of Lords into our nascent government

    Now it is where bills die unless one party has 60 seats because of reactionary reflex. The other party cannot be allowed to “win” at any cost.

    On any piece of legislation that is the supreme goal.

    I understand that a body or entity must exist that thwarts majoritarian bad impulses in government action, but as currently defined and with these rules, the Senate is a fucking piss poor example.

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  8. David S. says:

    @Tony W: I’d love to hear Manchin’s excuse for saying no to that. I’m sure he’ll find one.

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  9. Paine says:

    I was building out a fictional league for my Out of The Park baseball sim games and wanted to put a team in Wyoming. I was floored when I saw just how sparsely populated Wyoming is. California has four cities with a greater population than the entire state of Wyoming and more than a hundred cities larger than Wyoming’s largest. It’s ridiculous that a chunk of land with a few medium and small-sixed cities gets 2 senators to counter act California’s. California should just turn San Jose into a state while we do the same to D.C.

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  10. Kurtz says:

    @Paine:

    What were you going to call them?

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  11. de stijl says:

    @Paine:

    The low pop states get a bad rap and some of it deserved.

    But bomb around Wyoming and car camp. You will find super cool shit and some awesome people. Possibly, some shitty ones too; that happens. If you just hang out there for a bit, Wyoming is fucking awesome.

    I highly recommend tramping about the inter-mountain West with open eyes and a good heart.

    If you haven’t been go.

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  12. Paine says:

    @Kurtz

    It currently has two minor league teams: the Cody Cowboys and the Jackson Timberwolves. For my next major league expansion I plan to put a team in Casper.

    @de stijl

    I’m sure it’s quite beautiful.

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  13. de stijl says:

    Montana is my favorite US State even if the local politics are crap on toast.

    I have had my best times in Montana. Best life memories outside of close relationship stuff.

    This will sound extreme, but the biggest issue in moving towards a better America is rural America.

    Think of the deep red states. They are predominantly rural. Especially outside of ex-Confederate States.

    There are many upsides to that life, but a huge downside is that you do not have to interact and co-exist with people unlike you. I view that as an ability required for full adulthood and yet many of us have never had the experience.

    There is no rational solution. They are killing us.

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  14. Nightcrawler says:

    @de stijl:

    There are many upsides to that life, but a huge downside is that you do not have to interact and co-exist with people unlike you.

    Interacting and co-existing with people who are unlike me isn’t the issue. I’ve done that my entire life.

    The problem is that these people aren’t just unlike me. They hate me, they wish me dead, and given the opportunity, they’d kill me themselves and go have a sandwich afterwards like nothing happened. This was proven over the past year. How many of the 600k+ dead were infected by relatives, neighbors, “friends,” or co-workers who have absolutely no guilt or remorse over the murders they committed?

    When I say “me,” I don’t mean me personally, but anyone who is like me, meaning not part of the DT cult.

    There is no such thing as co-existing with people who wish I were dead.

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  15. Nightcrawler says:

    It’s a shame. These sparsely populated states, like WY, ND, and MT, have some of the most beautiful natural scenery on Earth. I love the landscape and the animals. But they’re also populated by people who would be willing to poison my pets, vandalize my house, and straight-up kill me if they could get away with it.

    For that reason, I will never visit those states. I won’t even drive through them if I can possibly avoid it. I wouldn’t feel safe in any of them.

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  16. @Nightcrawler:

    How many of the 600k+ dead were infected by relatives, neighbors, “friends,” or co-workers who have absolutely no guilt or remorse over the murders they committed?

    This is probably not a rabbit hole I want to go down too much, but occasionally I feel the need to point out that I really do not agree with a comment on a thread of one of my posts.

    While I very much think that the Trump administration bears substantial responsibility for the level of death we experienced in the US as a result of the pandemic, I think that murder is over the top, especially when speaking in generalities about people in general.

    While there were some assholes who did things like breath in people’s faces or performatively not wear masks, they didn’t think they were going to kill anybody–they thought (incorrectly, of course) that the whole thing was a hoax.

    I think we need some sense of proportion.

    Convincing oneself that the other side wants you dead is just a terrible step towards violent conflict.

    I agree, as I have noted continuously, that the GOP is currently behaving in a dangerously anti-democratic way, but we have got to keep our heads about that means.

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  17. @de stijl:

    We wanted to rid ourselves of the British and yet we included the equivalent to the House Of Lords into our nascent government

    Quite frankly, if the Senate only had the power of the House of Lords (the ability to delay legislation, up to a year, IIRC), I would very much prefer that over what we currently have.

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  18. @Tony W:

    of the people who bothered to vote

    It is worth noting that when one knows the outcome is foregone, there is not big incentive to show up to vote.

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  19. Teve says:

    @Nightcrawler: Idaho has some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve ever driven through. Would I ever move there? Fuck no.

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  20. David M says:

    @Tony W:

    I don’t think requiring 40 votes against instead of 60 votes for would end up making a significant difference , but it would at least put the burden on the side without majority support

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  21. Nightcrawler says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think we need some sense of proportion. Convincing oneself that the other side wants you dead is just a terrible step towards violent conflict.

    Normally, I would completely agree. Five or six years ago, I would have completely agreed. This would have sounded nuts, but it’s not nuts now.

    I don’t want violent conflict. I just want to stay away from these awful people. I do stay away from these awful people. I don’t go around looking for fights, which is why I said I refuse to even visit those red states.

    Unfortunately, I fear the conflict will ultimately be brought to all of our front doors, whether we want it or not. If I’m attacked, I’ll try to get away first, but if I can’t, I’ll defend myself.

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