How the Filibuster Redraws the Map
Last week I spoke with Greg Koger, author of a new book on the history of the filibuster. You'll never guess what we talked about. The interview is up here and it's worth a look, but there was one bit of our conversation that didn't make it into the final product, which I think is still worth noting.
Koger pointed out that one unintended consequence of filibuster reform would be that the Senate would start to act more like the House. As he puts it, "that's not necessarily a good thing." Since it sounded like an argument against majority rule, I asked him (in so many words) why he hates democracy. Here's what he said:
It's not clear what majority rule means in the context of the Senate. The Senate's one of the most malapportioned legislatures anywhere! On the one hand you can tell the story where a bare majority of the Senate represents a very small proportion of the American population. And then the counterargument is that 41 Senators representing an even smaller portion of the population can block legislation. Either way, the main point is that the Senate is a very malapportioned body...so the ability to muster a majority doesn’t necessarily mean that the national interest is being served.
This is a pretty important point and one that gets overlooked a lot when talking about something like the filibuster. But I think it lets the chamber off a little easy: One of the reasons the Senate is so malapportioned in the first place is because the admission of largely unpopulated states to the Union was determined by...the United States Senate. It's kind of a self-fulfilling failure.