so what’s it gonna take

1) either return the filibuster to “someone keeps talking, the whole time, and all Senate business is on hold until it breaks” or (preferably) do away with it altogether. The notion that 60 votes is a requirement has no basis in history or law and is an artificial construct of the last few decades that has been blithely accepted by those who should know better, and having it has done the friends of democracy no favors. The Enemy will gladly make an exemption for anything they want, and Obamacare was not saved by the filibuster – it was saved because they couldn’t get a majority. Which is how it should work.

2) pack the Supreme Court to at least 13, ASAP, and implement term limits (18 years? Out at age 70 automatically?) and a regularized method of selection (new justice every two years?). The random nature of opportunities to select justices – coupled with the political manipulation of those opportunities, and the fact that one-third of the Court was appointed by a President who never won the most votes – has damaged the legitimacy of the Court beyond repair as currently constituted. (And before someone starts the bad-faith caterwauling about the Warren Court in the 1950s, that was also a response to a broken democracy – one where a large swath of the population, especially in the South, was subject to de facto second-class citizenship. That wasn’t judicial activism, that was a court applying federal law as it was written – and with nine justices that despite all being white men were still actually appointed by a President who had gotten the most votes in his election.)

3) eliminate the Electoral College, either by amendment or compact. No one thought it was a problem when it didn’t matter for a hundred years, and 2000 was brushed off as a fluke, but it is no longer acceptable to award victory to the person with fewer votes than his opponent. The Electoral College is the inflamed appendix of America, and to defend it is to wipe one’s ass with the concept of democracy.

This is the barest minimum. This is the baseline requirement just to get us back to something like a functional democracy. It’s not perfect – the Senate as an institution may be beyond repair – but when you can get your way and win despite having fewer votes than your opponent, democracy is broken. All three of these measures are meant to restore some sort of connection between who gets the most votes and who gets to govern as a result. Because right now, the balance of power is held by the same side irrespective of election results. And that is unsustainable in the long run, because when ballots fail, people turn to other options.

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