In the dog house

Sen. Steve Daines is correct on the filibuster; Sens. Mitch McConnell and John McCain, and Evan Barrett (Aug. 12 guest opinion) are not.

A glaringly pressing need now, as always, is defending our republican democracy. About this Hamilton said “the fundamental maxim of republican government … requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.” Madison said about the use of super-majority vote: ”In all cases where justice or general good might require new laws to be passed … the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed”.

In Federalist No 22, Hamilton also said ”…what at first sight may seem a remedy, is, in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is required for a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser.”

In all, Hamilton and Madison did not say that legislative majority vote was merely important, they declared it to be "fundamental" to our form of government. Our republican democracy does not square with a system under which each chamber of Congress can willy-nilly determine how many votes is needed to pass legislation. Yet, today the U.S. Senate has morphed to a routine requirement of a 60-vote supermajority. The U.S. Senate, and only the U.S. Senate, decided that it must be 60 votes to pass legislation.

To Barrett’s comment that the end of supermajority vote would hurt Montana, I ask how? Tell us specifically how Montana would be hurt? Montana has two senators in the Congress, representing less than 1 million people, one of the highest senatorial representations, per population, in the United States. The Great Compromise ensured that all small states would have a disproportional Senate representation to help prevent the large states riding rough shod. However, the Great Compromise was not a repudiation of simple majority rule in the Senate.

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Senator McCain, Senator McConnell, how would the end of super-majority in the Senate hurt Arizona or Kentucky? Exactly how would it change the Senate? After all, both the Republicans/Democrats have already changed two super-majority voting requirements, and the Capitol still stands. Our states are still functioning.

McConnell, McCain and Barrett also say that ending super-majority would harm America. I ask, how abiding by the fundamental principle of our republican democracy — simple majority vote — would harm America? I say ending a minority political party's veto over the majority of the Senate, the majority elected House, and the president would be good for America. Regardless who is in majority.

Regarding Barrett's comments on “broad cooperation,” and bipartisanship, all representative of our government should work for cooperation and bipartisanship. However, this country is not a pure democracy. It is a republican democracy, and our republican democracy was to be ruled by the simple majority of its citizens.

The Senate super-majority vote must be eliminated. It is a pox on the fundamental element of our way of government: simple majority vote. It meddles with the basic structure of our government.

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David Noll is a retired businessman who lives in Big Timber.