Yesterday, the US Senate failed to break a filibuster against extending unemployment benefits and providing aid to states.
Under the undemocratic and historically accidental rules of the Senate, it takes 60 votes to end debate in the Senate. The majority mustered 56. (40 voted against ending debate, four didn’t vote.)
Whatever you believe about this particular legislation, supermajority rules are no way to govern a sophisticated, diverse industrial democracy in a fast-changing global economy, especially when the supermajority requirement is piled on top of a representation system that absurdly exaggerates the influence of small-population states. The 56 Senators who voted to break the filibuster represented not 56 percent of the electorate but 62 percent. Senators voting to sustain the filibuster represented just 36 percent.
In any other industrial democracy, representatives of 62 percent of the electorate could easily implement their legislative agenda. Time to fix the Senate.