Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

Currently: 79° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

OTHER VOICES:

Country could do without Senate

Another view?

View more of the Las Vegas Sun's opinion section:

Editorials - the Sun's viewpoint.

Columnists - local and syndicated writers.

Letters to the editor - readers' views.

Have your own opinion? Write a letter to the editor.

The L.A. Times editorial about reforming the Senate filibuster process totally missed the boat. Just get rid of the U.S. Senate; it’s an antiquated, undemocratic institution that needs to be disbanded and have its responsibilities rolled into the House of Representatives.

Finally, we can slash the size of government and make our leadership more democratic at the same time! None of this ineffective, tiny, baby step “reforming” of the ridiculous rule of the filibuster.

The main problem with the Senate is that it’s not one person, one vote. It’s grossly unfair that the voters of Wyoming have the same percentage of the vote in the U.S. Senate as the people in California.

In effect, because of their population differences, a vote in Wyoming is worth 69 votes from California. It gets even more ridiculous that with the Byzantine rules that those senators have made for themselves, it takes a super-majority to pass anything. Now a tiny fraction of the voters can blackmail the entire country.

The Founding Fathers weren’t perfect, but they didn’t expect time to stand still when they started the noble experiment they saw as the United States of America. We’ve made major changes since our nation’s founding: abolition of slavery and getting women the vote. It’s time that we rid ourselves of this undemocratic, useless, expensive extra cog of our government. What we need is a constitutional amendment to abolish the Senate.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 26 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. The House is no better than the Senate, and maybe worse.

    It isn't really the House or Senate. It the politicians that we elect to sit in both.

    Until responsible and reasonable people run for office and are elected, people who will serve The People instead of lobbyists and campaign donors, we will have the same old problem.

    Congress is crippled by career politicians who owe their continued seats to big money and power brokers who are dividing us and selling us out.

  2. I second the letter writer's motion. The US Senate is a dinosaur. It was based by the Founders on the House of Lords in England, the wealthy. England has since made the House of Lords merely symbolic with no legislative authority. The US should do likewise with the Senate. It's a millionaires' club of 100. Those who aren't before getting elected to the Senate are when they leave, if they ever do. Scrub it. Keep the Peoples' House of Representatives of 435.

    CarmineD

  3. "The US Senate is a dinosaur. It was based by the Founders on the House of Lords in England, the wealthy."

    What? Our sainted Founders, possessors of infinite wisdom, made a booboo?

    The Senate was originally devised as a representative of the states. For the first 120+ years of our existence, Senators were chosen by State Legislatures not by popular vote. The problem swith the Senate is not the Constitution but the Senate's own rules where individual Senators can force a vote that requires 60 ayes to even begin debate.

  4. What are you folks smokin?

    My prediction on the vote in the Senate to approve a constitutional amendment to eliminate their positions...0 to 100.

    With the 60 vote filibuster rule the Senate is a eunuch; since the Southern Democrats changed affiliation there has never been a time when one party had a true 60 votes. So, it would be easy to agree on going unicameral, but it isn't happening so better to spend your thinking time where it counts.
    What this country realy needs is to find a way to get our congress persons to vote their conscience instead of what the party whip orders them to do. To take today's Topic A as an example, it very much bothers me that the Republican party is taking the blame for the fiscal cliff, even tho a goodly number of GOP have spoken out in favore of revising the tax rates. But we are heading for a GOP Cliff if Boehner+Cantor force them to vote their way or the highway. If the leadership would do one thing...announce today that this Cliff was far too important an issue to be decided by party line block voting and the caucus is invited to vote their conscience with no retaliatory threats, then two things would happen...1. Tomorrow the House would pass a reasonable bill averting financial disaster...2. Boehner would jump to #1 in the race for the 2016 party presidential nomination.
    It is not Republicans who are causing the problem, it is the power hungry LEADERSHIP.

  5. Peacelily is right. The problem isn't the institution, which is made up of people, it is the people who make up the institution.

    How many Americans notice that when a member of the House appears on TV, many times we don't even recognize him or her? Most times we 'know' who that Senator that appears is. That's partly because there are many more House members than Senators, but it is also because the Senator has most likely been re-elected to the Senate multiple times and is a 'career' Senator and a 'lifer'.

    That needs to change in both chambers. If the voters cannot or will not do, it should be done with term limits. Neither chamber operates very well, but one thing that the system in both chambers does do, is work well for keeping those in the chambers in there for a long time. That needs to change. The Founders never intended that being a House member or Senator become a 'career'. The fact that both chambers have many 'career' members along with no public campaign financing, no lobbying reform and no term limits, is the reason we are seeing such poor performance from both chambers.

    Michael

  6. "What? Our sainted Founders, possessors of infinite wisdom, made a booboo?" @Jim Weber

    Yes, they did. When the Founders sat around that round table they knew that they didn't have the wisdom and foresight to address all the possible problems of the future. But they designed and implemented the foundation, if followed, to make the necessary reforms and revisions when warranted. Getting rid of the Senate, as England did with the House of Lords, by making it symbolic rather than operational, is the answer. Not breaking the rules to change the rules.

    CarmineD

  7. What needs to happen is the excision of the sneaky little law that made corporations people, then cut off their unbridled power by eliminating Super PACs. Peacelily and other Commenters are right about it being about the career politicians who forever campaign and fund raise. That all has to go.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  8. Term limits would be attractive but, again, unattainable short of a Constitutional Convention tee hee. But, what we could change, without amendment or new constitution are the party rules in both branches. I don't know HOW that could be done, but I lobby for some rule changes such that incumbents don't have the deck so stacked in favor of re-election, they don't have to vote en masse by party, and they don't get to spend 18 months out of every 24 month term in the pursuit of another term.

  9. I see, let's cut off our noses to spite our faces, right? The Senate puts "little" states such as NV on a par with "big" states such as CA & NY and does not let them run roughshod over the rest. Be careful of what you wish for. G B Shaw said: "There are two great disappointments in life. One is in losing your heart's desire; the other is in gaining it." Take a moment to mull over that.

  10. It would be nice to get rid of the superpacs. But in the meantime, they may self regulate. It should be clear to anyone who looks closely that money became a negative in the last few months. People like me were getting increasingly disgusted with the parties every time the phone rang, and muted the TV when those blurbs came on. Will the Adelsons and Soros' of the country continue to pound it down a rat hole?

  11. Let's be realistic. In the last 4 years has the Senate passed an annual Federal budget? House has EVERY YEAR. Isn't that one of its responsibilities BY LAW.

    Scrub it.

    CarmineD

  12. Let's be really realistic Carmine, the reason the Senate has not delivered a budget is that they have that 60% filibuster rule while the dems never thought it wise to call the bluff. The house has no such problem.

  13. Nevada could secede from the U.S. by refusing to send a delegation to Congress. We could RETIRE REID and the others.

  14. When enough States secede, neither house could find a quorum.

  15. "Let's be really realistic Carmine, the reason the Senate has not delivered a budget is that they have that 60% filibuster rule while the dems never thought it wise to call the bluff. The house has no such problem."

    Poppycock. Harry Reid and President Obama thought themselves above the law to deliver and pass a budget. Just like they want to do NOW with the Constitutional Law governing that the debt ceiling be increased and approved by the House.

    All the Dems were pounding their chests and jumping up and down with the Obama victory. Saying the election has consequences. So does the Constitutio. With the CR [Continuing Resolution] expiring in March 2013 and the debt ceiling limit being hit too, all of a sudden the Dems realize the GOPeoples' House have a few trump cards stowed away to play too.

    CarmineD

  16. Refnv, our resident spinmeister, sez "Finally, liberals had three of the top five largest super PACS." True.

    Also true - Conservatives had six of the top nine Super PACS and those six spent $318 million versus $135 million for the liberal Super PACS. Numbers can be fun depending on what you want to prove with them.

  17. Congress is structured as it is for the same reason we have an Electoral College: the Founding Fathers had a basic mistrust/fear of a raw majority.

    All things considered, it seems to have been well justified.

    The Senate, being a smaller body, is much better suited for the "advise and consent" role for starters. Beyond that, it should be plain to see that without it the House could easily pass laws beneficial to large states that would do harm to small ones. Even more important, even Texas has enough concentrated population centers now that its members might well side with California and New York on matters that might not be in the best interests of rural areas. The Senate allows for a damper on that kind of activity.

    We need the Senate and the House. As Jeff said on another column today, return the filibuster rule to where it blocks all other business until being resolved and our Senate could function better.

  18. If I might offer up some more precise history. As has been pointed out, the Senate was actually intended to represent the "sovereign" states so that the bigger states (NY & PA at the time of the convention) could not dominate the legislative branch (which they would have had there been only the House). But more importantly, the 6 year term of the Senators was intended to make them less susceptible to the vicissitudes of short term political hysteria as a counter point to the 2 year terms of the members of the House.

    That "sovereignty" was the reason for the filibuster, i.e. it was thought inappropriate by the early senators that the representatives of the several states should be subject to a time limit in their arguments for or against a particular bill. It was not intended as a defense to voting. It was only in response to slavery that the filibuster was used as defensive tactic and more recently as a minority veto right. As recently as 30 years ago, the filibuster rule required an actual filibuster, not mere notice as is the rule today.

    As to the senators themselves being the problem as argued above, I disagree. I see the problem as the voters. I point out that the an IQ of 100 is the median and therefore one half of all voters are presumably blessed with a 2 digit IQ. And politicians structure their behavior and messaging to that group. When those voters with a 3 digit IQ start voting, and doing so on the basis of more than knee jerk (whether liberal or conservative) reactions to emotional sound bites, then politicians of all stripes, including Senators, will act very differently, with or without a filibuster rule.

  19. Civil discourse is nice to see, but please try to connect it back to the main topic of the letter.

  20. Don't you just love it! Every time anyone calls RefNV on his numbers or manipulation of numbers he never replies. He just segues into a different set of numbers.

  21. Read Hank Stone @ 1:30 PM. Right on point.

  22. The same organization happened during the French Revolution, i.e. the 'Period of Enlightenment'.

    Mostly from Wiki-
    "The Council of Five Hundred was the lower house of the legislature of France during the period commonly known as the Directory (NO SENATE), from 22 August 1795 until 9 November 1799, roughly the second half of the period generally referred to as the French Revolution."

    "The Council of Five Hundred proposed the list out of which the (Council of the ) Ancients chose five Directors, who jointly held executive power."

    What America needs is another period of Englightenment, similar to what the French revolution enacted. Not only were the ranks of the Aristocrats thinned, but the Catholic Church lost most of it's real estate and power. This opened the door for reason and rational thought instead of relying on iron age cult rituals for solutions to everyday problems.

    A return to Colonial America might serve the Country well. In 1700, the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Puritans only) passed an ordinance that Catholic Priests had three months to leave. Continued residence after this limit might bring imprisonment or execution to said Priests. The Province of New York soon passed the same ordinance.

    It's time to bring America back to it's Colonial roots where bicameral Government was not needed and proselytizing for the wrong religion might warrant gibbeting or worse.

  23. Judging from some of these comments, the Founding Fathers knew exactly what they were doing and why.

  24. "Disagree. The Senate, as inept as it may be, serves a legitimate function in protecting the smaller states from the tyranny of the larger ones." @NLV-Indep13

    How so?

    I can see that argument for the Electoral College and voting. And I agree.

    Not for national legislating. If the entire Senate is dissolved, where's the tyranny of the large states in the Senate?

    CarmineD

  25. "Judging from some of these comments, the Founding Fathers knew exactly what they were doing and why."@ boftx

    Sadly we strayed from their vision of citizen representation to career politicians. And very wealthy ones at that.

    CarmineD

  26. The Senate is the last hope to protect We, the People, from the tyranny of the majority.