Advancing a Free Society

Democracy's New Discontents

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Once upon a time, loud dissent, filibustering in the Senate and gridlock in the House were as democratic as apple pie.

A Senator Obama once defended his attempts to block confirmation votes on judicial appointments by alleging, "The Founding Fathers established the filibuster as a means of protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority."

In 2005, progressives were relieved that a Democratic minority had just gridlocked Congress -- ending recently re-elected President George W. Bush'splan to reform Social Security. Gridlock, in other words, was a helpful constitutional tool when a minority party wanted to block a president's legislative initiatives. A then-cool Senator Obama suggested Bush and his congressional supporters "back off" and "let go of their egos."

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