I don’t know about you, but I grew up understanding that the majority ruled. It is the way we made decisions of all kinds as kids. Should we go bowling or go to a movie? Should we go to this restaurant or that one? We always understood that it was proper behavior to go along with the majority decision, even if it didn’t go our way. Kids who didn’t learn this basic rule, and wouldn’t accept such decisions, soon became very lonely. This isn’t to say that personal judgement or beliefs had to be cast aside. That is why we generally chose our group of friends based on a commonality of beliefs and values. Have these basic lessons of childhood been forgotten by our political leadership?
There is evidence in their behavior that they are not willing to accept the basic rules they were taught as children. The Filibusterer Rule in the Senate requires a vote of 60 senators to bring a bill to the floor for a decision. Obviously, this means that a minority of 41 senators can determine the fate of a bill. Even if a majority of 59 senators are in favor of the bill, it will never see the light of day. Efforts to rectify this situation have so far met with resistance. The Hastert Rule in the House requires that a majority of the majority approve a bill before it can be presented for a vote. Therefore, it is possible, and has been the case, that a minority of the members of the House have prevented a bill from reaching the floor for a vote. These two procedural rules have created incredible gridlock and have caused the last Congress to be the least productive in history.
However, this issue reaches beyond the halls of Congress. It impacts all of us on a multitude of issues and problems. If we check the polls regarding gun control, immigration, the debt ceiling, same sex marriage and a host of other issues, the majority are seeking fair and equitable remedies. Yet, the government seems to be in a constant state of paralysis and unable to resolve these issues. Minorities in both the House and the Senate, through parliamentary procedural strategy, are capable of frustrating efforts to resolve these vital issues. Yet, they represent the beliefs and values of the minority of Americans. The rules of the House and the Senate have allowed the minority to rule.
When President Obama was elected to a second term as President of the United States, he not only won with a majority of electoral votes, but a significant majority of the popular vote as well. This has not been achieved by any President since Eisenhower. President Obama stated his goals and values clearly during the campaign. A majority of those who voted, approved of those goals and values and voted for him. It is also interesting to note that there were more votes cast for Democratic candidates in the House races, than for Republican candidates. But for Gerrymandering, the House might look quite different today. It is clear that a majority who voted approve of efforts to find equatable and fair solutions to our problems. So, why are we allowing a vocal and ideologically driven minority to rule?
The campaign may be over. Our candidates have won. The question we have to ask, however, was the election merely a battle in a larger war? Is there still a battle to be fought regarding the workings of Congress and the power of the minority? If we continue to allow the minority to rule, the answer becomes very clear.