« youth engaged from coast to coast | Main | listening »

October 7, 2008

what to do with sixty votes

(Baltimore) FiveThirtyEight says that there's just over a 20% chance that the Democrats will have a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority in the Senate. If that happens, it's pretty much guaranteed that Barack Obama will be the next president and Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker. It's an unlikely scenario, but an interesting one to think about.

If the Democrats have 60 Senators, I'd like to see the president and the congressional leadership gather privately, develop a major economic reform bill, and then jam it through Congress on the first week of the session. That's not deliberative, but I've never been a zealot for deliberation. Our system has plenty of checks to prevent rapid change. At their best, these checks promote "the mild voice of reason" by requiring discussion before the government can act. At their worst, they frustrate popular change and make policies muddy and confused, so that no one can evaluate what the government is trying to do. A clear-cut, dramatic shift in policy might actually help to broaden the public discussion and make politics appear more tractable. In any event, I'd support dramatic reform if it was fair and wise. Some elements might include:

None of these reforms would empower citizens politically or embody the November Fifth Coalition philosophy that "we [citizens] are all the change we need." They are top-down, national policies. I guess when it comes down to it, I'd claim that there are crucial tasks--such as educating the next generation--that must be done by citizens and communities in partnership with the government. But there are other crucial tasks, such as stimulating the economy and making it more fair, that only Washington can lead.

October 7, 2008 8:17 AM | category: none


Site Meter