About Me

My photo
Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Representative Reality

From here, linked to originally here.

"So in reality, what's the population balance? Counting the new Republican Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, the 41 Republicans in the Senate come from states representing just over 36.5 percent of the total US population. The 59 others (Democratic plus 2 Independent) represent just under 63.5 percent. (Taking 2009 state populations from here. If you count up the totals and split a state's population when it has a spit delegation, you end up with about 112.3 million Republican, 194.7 million Democratic + Indep. Before Brown's election, it was about 198 million Democratic + Ind, 109 million Republican.)

Let's round the figures to 63/37 and apply them to the health care debate. Senators representing 63 percent of the public vote for the bill; those representing 37 percent vote against it. The bill fails."


Scott Walters said...

See, we sort of already had this debate back in the 18th century. That's why we have a bi-cameral form of government.

Freeman said...

It's not about bi-cameral government, Professor. Congress and its rules have changed quite a bit since the 18th Century, obviously. In fact, they change constantly, and its a rule change that has granted the minority too much power. I completely agree that we shouldn't want for the tyranny of the majority, but sometimes, the system breaks and it needs fixing.

It's about the filibuster. At this point, the filibuster (which is not a Constitutional power but a simple parliamentary rule) is what causes bills to die. It requires 60 votes to invoke cloture and end a filibuster, and in order to invoke a filibuster, all the minority party has to do is say "We're filibustering." This denies simple up-or-down votes or majority votes with not pain the minority party. It is, essentially, a formula for deadlock, and a system that rewards obstructionism and stasis. Where the filibuster once required the minority party to literally talk and talk and deny a vote and make a dramatic gesture, now they just have to sort of say "No, you can't vote" until the majority party comes up with a supermajority to stop it.

This was not always the case. And now we see what the effect is. It makes the majority appear weak for having an honest debate, and the ideologically rigid and politically minded minority look strong simply for their ability to say No without nuance or thought.

I don't think we should be rid of the filibuster: if the minority party believes so strongly in opposing a bill they should be able to organize one. But it's gotten out of hand.

Take a look at this:


Note that Cloture motions have gone from close to none in the 1940s and 50s to 140 between 2006 and 2007. It's not some imaginary issue. It's a real change in how Congress does business and it's seriously damaged our government's ability to make substantive changes.

Freeman said...

ahem. here's that link again


Freeman said...


just go here