Finding a new angle for a story is one good way to shed light on an event so a reader can see aspects that have been obscured by the shadows of unfamiliarity, ignorance or prejudice. Today in Slate they wrote up the Senate’s filibuster-ending vote in the style of U.S. journalists when they are writing about other countries around the world; imagine just how stupid we may look to others:
WASHINGTON, United States—In what analysts are calling a landmark step on the country’s path toward representative democracy, the U.S. government agreed today to allow most appointments to high offices to be approved by a majority vote. However, opposition lawmakers are crying foul, arguing that the change will allow the country’s embattled leader to seize more power.
And, if you enjoy the opportunity to see a politician talk out of both sides of his mouth, here’s your chance: in 2005, Senator Barack Obama explains why the Republican majority in the Senate of the time should not tamper with the filibuster rule, precisely the thing the Democratic majority did today.
I know we can make the arguments for and against this change to Senate rules; personally, I think protecting the rights of the minority from the tyrannical majority is a good thing, but I also think that the minority should have to actually take the floor and keep speaking in order to block action on appointments or legislation, not just threaten to do so. But I hope we could look at ourselves honestly—all of us as a group, not just our political opponents—and see the ridiculous state that we’ve reached in our politics.
3 thoughts on “Oh, would you look at what those crazy Americans have done now”
Actually, this is the natural state, not a “ridiculous” one. In Athens, the earliest democracy for which we have solid records, the women waited until they had a majority at one particular assembly to vote Athena as the symbol of the city over Poseidon, the men’s fervent choice. The men bided their time until they had a majority and promptly voted women out of the assembly permanently.
Once you have an adversarial situation then any initial movement towards compromise, however slight, is a bad strategy. The other side will put it in its pocket and re-draw the lines. This scenario is trumped when there is a third party, either worse then the original two in their eyes (or their electorate’s). Thus parties come together in times of war when a greater evil can be identified.
Like Rome ca. 200 AD we have no such formidable enemy. Thus, like Rome, we tear ourselves apart factionally. Now’s the time to place your bets on the Visigoths…
I’ll take the Visigoths in 5 because I really like their young pitching, and pitching wins championships.
Believe me, my wife is still pissed about that and I am sure I will hear more about it this weekend.