Saturday, January 8, 2011

A modest proposal

The US Senate deserves to be a more bipartisan and consensus-driven body.

I don't think there has been enough bipartisanship in Washington. The bickering that goes on, the disagreements and finger-pointing, it is all so disagreeable. Why can't they all just get along? So I'd like to make a modest proposal: the Senate should become a consensus body. That's right- every Senator would have to agree to any new piece of legislation or other business. There- doesn't that make you feel better already?

I know, I know- the constitution says that each Senator shall have only one vote. And requires two-thirds majorities for only a few specific cases, making it obvious that regular business should be decided by majority votes. But it also gives each house the power to make its own rules, and if the Senate decided that not 50%, not 60%, not 67%, but 100% agreement is what the American people deserve from their legislators, then what court could possibly disagree?

You are probably thinking that a consensus system would give the craziest Senators (Jim DeMint? Bernie Sanders? Grudge match!) the ability to hold any legislation and indeed the entire government hostage to their whims and "needs", however corrupt or ideological. But you aren't seeing the bigger picture. Consensus; kumbaya; compromise- those are the magic words in any political system. Sure it's going to be a tough road, but finding those great policies that we can all agree on- that is the golden path to a better future. We've seen it work in the UN- look what they have been able to accomplish!

Yes, this proposal would make the Senate our outstanding political body, able to cool the passions whipped up elsewhere in our divided and bitter system, ready to divine the real public interest that our citizens know lurks beneath the extreme platforms of the self-interested political parties, and willing to dedicate itself to the highest and most sacred goals of complete agreement, unanimity, hallowed consensus.

Greatness awaits us, if only we can find the will to empower each of our Senators with this sacred trust- to squelch partisanship, to search, and keep searching, for compromise, and then to search some more, wherever it can be found.

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