This is a Test

Whatever your position on the watered-down background check measure that failed yesterday for lack of a super-majority, you should be appalled by the ability of a  minority to block action desired by an overwhelming majority of the American public, and a clear majority of their representatives.

If this were an isolated case, we could shrug it off, attribute it to the messiness that is the democratic process. But yesterday was simply another episode in the soap opera called Your Broken Government. The story line is familiar: the Party of No refuses to engage in anything resembling good-faith negotiation or legislative compromise, the Party of Wimps shakes its head and throws up its hands–and nothing happens. Problems aren’t solved. Jobs aren’t created. Petty politics replaces lawmaking. Statesmanship is a word in the dictionary.

This soap opera features a dysfunctional family, where the GOP is the bratty child who has tantrums and refuses to do his chores and the Democrats are the enabling parent who substitutes ineffectual remonstrances for real discipline.

Actually, television offers an even better analogy. In the original Star Trek series, the Enterprise came across a planet where warfare was conducted entirely by computer; rather than use weapons that would devastate cities, the computer would simulate battles and send messages to the losers–who would then obediently report to death chambers. In the United States Senate, a group of Senators sends Harry Reid a message, telling him of its intent to filibuster, and suddenly, sixty votes are required rather than a simple majority. No real war–not even a requirement that the objecting minority actually stand and talk. Just servile acquiescence.

Yesterday, those elected to represent us spit in the faces of the ninety percent of Americans who wanted background checks. Representative democracy did not work. Again.

The question is, what will the American public do about our broken government?


  1. If Sen. Reid had any kind of backbone he would make each and every filibuster threat actually occur. THAT might get some voters off their kiesters. Otherwise, apathy and misinformation will win out again.

    And, THANKS for the geeky sci-fi reference! rofl

  2. The American public keeps shouting, “Vote them out, vote them out!” But, come election day the party with the most money comes out on top. Money talks, bullshit walks has never been more true. I was too sickened by the vote yesterday to continue watching so switched to Roseanne reruns; far more logical, reasonable and truer to life than the embarrassing senate vote against any form of gun control. Maybe if the Boston marathon runners and fans had been shot rather than bombed, the 90/10 majority would have passed much needed reform on gun control which is currently non-existent.

  3. Paul; the answer to that is covered in Sheila’s previous blog – Garbage In, Garbage Out

  4. Afterthought: will someone in the GOP author a bill outlawing pressure cookers to appear they are doing something to counteract terrorists? I wait with baited breath!

  5. Well said, Sheila. But there is nothing in the Constitution about unanimous consent agreements or filibusters. The Senate rules have created more “veto players” than the Framers envisioned. So long as these structural constraints exist, a minority will be able to bring governance to a halt. The Founders feared tyranny of the majority. But what we have today is tyranny of the minority.

  6. The rights of the minority are protected in our government. We are (thank God) not a democracy.

  7. I appreciate MSNBC (which I don’t do often these days) for continuing to show the faces, names, and political affiliations of those who voted NO to the watered-down bill for background checks. As one women said in the chamber, “Shame on you!”

    Did I mention that BOTH of the senators from my state of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander (R) and Bob Corker (R), voted NO? Shame on them and others of their ilk whose spines were so weak.

  8. Here’s another situation, this time in San Antonio, TX, where my friends attended Fiesta. Young women on floats or stands in the parade were affixed to the stands for their safety. They were shot at from the crowd and could not even run for cover because of their attachment to the stand. I did not hear if the women were injured in the attempt to kill them. Sick, sick, sick!

  9. Speaking of people who paradoxically combine rigidity with weak spines, our own Sen. Coats is among them. Isn’t there someone in this state who has more talent and intelligence than that guy? Were we so desperate that we actually had to resuscitate that guy from a comfy retirement, selling his connections?

  10. This post assumes that government action is a good thing.

    Has anyone proposed the idea that we should have background checks for reporters? As we all know, the pen is mightier than the sword.

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