John Nichols displays none of the traditional progressive penchant for democracy.
Well, what the heck.
It’s just too scary for some people.
Something might go wrong.
Whereas if we just go back to the real filibuster we used to see in movies, what could go wrong?
I think it was Matt Yglesias who, a few years back, gave the history lesson showing the old style filibuster was almost always used to protect wealth and privilege and political expressions of racism like segregation.
And about 90% of the uses of the new style filibuster have been made during O's presidency to protect and advance the interests of plutocracy with record-setting, and downright shocking, obstruction of a fairly modest liberal agenda.
All the same, lot's of liberals are far less democratic in their convictions than one might wish.
Booman, for example, more than once has come out in agreement with the proposal of several conservative pundits and office holders that the 17th Amendment be repealed and the choice of senators returned to state governments.
And that despite the fact that, according to those conservatives, the point of repeal would be to disempower progressivism and create a situation in which its past achievements would be undone.
And very few liberals, indeed, would be willing like Dahl and some others to deny the Supreme Court and the federal courts in general the power of constitutional review of actions of the federal executive or legislative branches, confining its role in that regard to regulation of the states.
Generally, liberals and conservatives alike quote Madison on the role of the courts in protecting minority rights, with the former at least citing the era of the civil rights struggles in support of that notion.
Come to that, they talk the same way about the anti-democratic and anti-majoritarian features of the senate.
But Madison was talking about protecting the propertied classes against the rest of us, a fact the conservatives well know and the liberals ignore.
So far as anyone can tell, he could not have cared less for the alleged rights of non-whites, women, or homosexuals.
And I wouldn't take too much for granted regarding his concern for the rights of non-abrahamic religious minorities.
And, anyway, if you consider the achievements of the liberal federal courts during and after the 20th Century nearly everything they did to advance equality and the sexual revolution - and these are the things that liberals value - was a matter of controlling legislation and other actions of the states.
While during that very same period the senate was an absolute bastion of racism, religious bigotry, sexual repression, and every kind of prejudice and discrimination.
By far, the best thing to do with the senate - according to me, of course - would be to abolish it and restore the unicameralism of the Articles of Confederation.
Second best would be to reform representation to make it proportional to population with each state getting a minimum of one member, as in the house, and reform the rules to make the place majoritarian in its actual procedures.
If we go to unicameralism we might stretch terms in the house to 3 years to allow members to get more done between campaigns, but only if we also institute a recall process for house members - which might be a good idea, anyway.
And we should not stagger house elections as senate elections now are staggered.
The whole membership should continue to come up for election at the same time, as now.
Reforms to allow limits on the duration of campaigns and the money spent on related propaganda by private sources would be good things, I think, as well.
Representation in the house is already proportional to population and its voting, rules, and procedures are, and should remain, majoritarian.
And while we are fixing things my way, the power of constitutional review wielded by federal courts should, I say, be expressly confined to legislation and other actions of the states and inferior jurisdictions.
Too, the - ahem - "creativity" in interpreting the constitution, of the liberal courts more recently but also of conservative courts before them, teaches an important lesson.
While judicial independence has its value there can obviously be too much of this good thing; a way to confine the courts to fair interpretation and enforcement of the law really does need to be found.
Sure, during the 20th Century and since then their flights of invention unencumbered by reality were and have been on the side of the angels, mostly.
That is, those inventions generally suit my values pretty well, now and in retrospect, and apart, of course, from such value as I set on democracy and in flat defiance of my disapproval of judicial, or any other, absolutism.
And within the scope of this personal approval I mean to specifically include the invented constitutional right to privacy, the incorporation doctrine, and the courts' vigorous and free construals of the equal protection clause.
All the same, the Supremes in particular and the courts in general most certainly did not, as is sometimes claimed, invent in favor of the values of modern society as a whole, or even of a contemporary majority.
They invented pretty much to suit themselves and their liberal supporters.
The values of others did not concern them, except as needing to be defied and perhaps somehow outlasted or done away with.
In any case, the judicial absolutism embodied in the idea that the Supremes are or ought to be a sort of "constitutional convention in permanent session," as was once said by a happy liberal - perhaps a judge and at least a lawyer - is, to my mind, an offensive and unacceptable defiance not only of democracy but of the rule of law, altogether.
And I leave it to the reader to rehearse within his own mind the many reasons why absolutism is really not a good idea.
Anyway, not on the whole, ordinarily, or in the general run of things.
Not even judicial absolutism, however benevolent in limited respects some despots - judicial or other - may in the past or elsewhere have been.
We are in marked need, here, of adequate checks and balances.
No judge should have life tenure, I think.
And most should be elected by the people or subject to periodic re-appointment, perhaps according to the same process by which they were appointed in the first place.
Well, yes, restoring the old-style filibuster is better than going on as we are, of course.
Sure, it's a weapon in the hands of the plutocrat minority that would be less easy and a lot more costly to use and so, we hope, it would be used much less often than the new filibuster they have in their armory, now.
So, what's that?
Another damned lesser evil we're supposed to pretend we like?]