Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Democratic Supermajority?

Democrats are hoping that this year's elections will not only bring a Democrat back into the White House, but it will also result in larger majorities in both houses of Congress. In the Senate, Democrats are eyeing the magic number 60, the filibuster-buster. Mary Landrieu's Louisiana seat is the only one of the 12 Democratic seats up for election this year that is even remotely in danger of being lost. Republicans have 23 seats up this year, with a few incumbents leaving office and several seats in danger of being lost to Democrats. Even in some usually solid Republican states like Alaska, Democrats are doing well in polls.

Because of all of this, Senate Democrats are optimistic that winning the nine extra seats needed to reach 60 is not far fetched. I think it may be better for the country and the party if they are wrong.

Supermajorities are not good. Democracy requires more of a balance and a need for compromise. A supermajority can push down the superminority's throat whatever legislation it wants without ever hearing what the minority has to say.

Also, when one party controls both Congress and the White House, even without a supermajority, it tends to become cocky, abuse its power and take its majority for granted. This brought the downfall of the Democrats in 1994 and the Republicans in 2006.

Democrats can try to resist this historical trend while they have a regular majority in both houses, but if they have such a huge lead that they don't even need to talk to Republicans they'll become unpopular very quickly.

So, a Democrat in the White House, and something like a 55-45 majority in the Senate and a 245-190 majority in the House of Representatives seems quite enough to me. But then again, if a supermajority it must be, it is better that it is Democratic and not Republican.

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