As you all know by now, Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate was not retained by a Democrat, but instead was won by Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown, a Republican. This eliminates the Democrats 60 vote majority, which had become necessary for them to accomplish anything legislatively in the Senate. The reason is the filibuster rule, which I had previously blogged should be eliminated.
The NY Times published this group of letters to the editor from several prominent scholars and public servants regarding the filibuster. I think the last letter by Bill Matea is the most interesting and most promising for further consideration. His argument, translated, is that we go back to the pre-1976 filibuster rule that required senators filibustering a bill to actually be present on the floor of the Senate and debating. As you may know, the current rule does not require this. This is silly, given that the whole purpose of the rule is to ensure the possibility of debate.
I would think that making this rule change would be politically palateable to the Americans. My guess is that this what most Americans think the filibuster rule is anyway. Secondly, it would address the concerns that many Americans have raised about how the health care bill was “rushed through” without “sufficient debate.” Having a real, public debate might be exactly what we need on this issue. Another of the letters included in the link makes this point – make the opponents to health care reform present their arguments in debate and see how things go for them.