Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Filibuster-Proof Majority

The Filibuster Proof Majority

According to a site that I follow,, the Democratic Party has a 30% chance of obtaining a filibuster-proof majority (60 seats) in the U.S. Senate.

I do not want that to happen.

The Democratic Party is not a font of all wisdom and virtue. Just as the Republicans have tied themselves to people who have absurd beliefs about the real world (the Religious Right), the Democratic Party also has an element with equally absurd beliefs (the Anti-Business Left).

One area in which this is the case is with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Association) and LAFTA (Latin American Free Trade Association). On this issue, the Democratic left wants to see free trade curtailed – wants to see policies enacted that “keep jobs here in America” and stops the flow of jobs overseas. The fact of the matter is that by "shipping jobs overseas", the populations of other countries become more prosperous, which has two effects.

First, they are less likely to go to war because, the more a country trades with others, the more it has to lose by getting involved in armed conflict.

Second, a more prosperous country has more use for the goods and services of other countries.

In addition, there is the simple moral, humanitarian issue underlying this. To fight to prevent people who are now earning $200 per year . . . per year . . . with no health care, no decent food, and surrounded by outlaw militia that have nothing better to do with their time from earning $1000 per year, and later $2000 per year . . . is morally depraved. Yet, when the Democratic left talks about international trade they speak as if this part of their plan is perfectly acceptable. The welfare of human beings in other countries seems, to them, to be of no moral significance whatsoever, a long as Americans can "preserve their jobs".

Even that part of the Democratic Left's approach to international trade is absurd. Assume that you had a choice – you could either make Africa like Europe, or make Europe like Africa. Which do you think would benefit America more? All we have to do is look at how much economic benefit we obtain from trade with Europe compared to what we gain from trade with Africa. How many jobs are created because the Europeans are prosperous enough to buy what Americans are selling, compared to how many jobs are created by the demand for American exports coming out of Africa.

Another issue in which I worry about an unchecked Democratic majority is on the issue of Iraq (and of foreign wars in general). Far too many Democrats think that they know with certainty, and without evidence, that the best thing to do is to leave Iraq. They might be right. I, on the other hand, am reluctant to draw a conclusion one way or the other without evidence, and the evidence (in this case) is hidden from my sight.

On this issue, the Democratic Left is much like President George Bush. Bush did not need to actually look at the intelligence reports. He knew that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was ready to use them on the United States. If the intelligence reports said otherwise, this simply proved that the analysts could not do their job very well. The Democratic Left knows that the best option is to leave Iraq. If the intelligence reports contradict this option then they, too, will simply assume that there was something wrong with the intelligence reports.

So, here is my recommendation to my readers. If you live in a state with a close Senate race, I would like you to take a good look at the Republican candidate in that election. If the Republican candidate is half way decent (not lost in some second-coming fantasy that utterly prevents him or her from making rational real-world decisions), then there is reason to consider voting to prevent the Democrats from having entirely unchecked political power.

We could be better off as a result.


Anonymous said...

I disagree. We need a few years to pass legislation to try and fix the last twelve year of GOP rule of Congress. You still have all those blue dog democrats to mess things up. ;)

Anonymous said...

"... he knew that Obama had WMDs..."

Is the Republican propaganda starting to affect your subconscious after all? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Your argument is kind of compelling, but I don't buy it for the following reasons:

- The "anti-business left" has practically no influence on Democratic politicians. They may have numbers -- which ought to mean something in a democracy but doesn't -- but they don't have money, and the Democratic Party listens to money. If you seriously believe that the Democrats are going to vote in lockstep and seriously change things, you haven't been paying attention. (Or, possibly, you're a Republican who hasn't noticed that the other side doesn't work your way.)

- You are making a false dichotomy between starting a humanitarian war and doing nothing whatsoever. There are usually more choices than that, although I admit that our diplomats have had no other plausible options to offer under Bush. (And probably will have no other options under McCain if he gets in.) You can only apply soft power if it's credible, and it hasn't been since about 2003.

- You also make the false assumption that a country undergoing trade will undertake fewer wars. We (the U.S.) do one heck of a lot of trade, but it seems we start more wars than anyone else. If you can find a single counterexample -- a country which has fought in more foreign wars over the last twenty years -- please give it.

Frankly, although I agree with your conclusion that the Democrats should not have a filibuster-proof majority, the Republicans are not the way to go. When was the last time that (a) there was a clear party stance on both sides, (b) the Republicans were right about the issue, and (c) the Democrats actually disagreed? I don't think I can remember a single instance in the last two decades. Every time, either there has been no party unity, or the Republicans have been wrong.

And, in fact, that is a sufficient argument right there for not voting for Republicans. The best you can say for them is that they can be right by disagreeing with their own party. Let's get rid of the bums and start some third parties. Let Ron Paul fund a conservative movement that isn't affiliated with the corrupt Republicans or the greedbag Libertarians, and bring in the Greens so that the Democrats have to stop taking their base for granted. This country would be much stronger with, say, five political parties of approximately equal strength.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

anonymous 1

My point is that a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate will do less work fixing things and more work breaking things in a whole new way - without some checks and balances to their power.

anonymous 2

No . . . actually, my mind was drifting between two different subjects that I wanted to write about.

the vicar

I like the "or possibly you are a Republican" comment. It was humerous.

But nor am I a Democrat. I believe that both parties have a lunatic element that is disconnected from reality. I have no more use for the Kucinich and Nadar branch of the Democratic Party than for the Palin branch of the Republican Party.

Nobody will argue that there is an inviolable "law of nature" whereby a country bound to others through trade will not enagage in aggression. It is simply far less likely.

A few exceptions do not change the fact that, overall, you can expect fewer wars among nations that engage in open trade than among those whose borders are closed to trade - any more than a few exceptions where smokers do not get cancer disproves the claim that smoking increases the chance that one will get cancer.

Having more political parties may be a good thing. However, to have that we need to get rid of our winner-take-all political system - a system where 10% of the votes means that one will still get a few seats in the legislature, rather than the winner-take-all system we have now.

In the absence of that kind of reform, we are stuck with two parties.

Anonymous said...

The "or possibly you're a Republican" comment wasn't meant as a joke. The Republican party since 2000 basically moves in lockstep. On nearly any given vote since then that isn't pure fluff, you'll find that 90%+ of the Republican Party has voted identically, regardless of whether it was in their own interests. That's why the bailout votes were so unusual -- the Democrats actually voted more consistently than the Republicans did.

And, again, this is a sign of an unhealthy party, unless your idea of a political party is something which removes all free will.

Go look at Wikipedia's list of wars. Once you remove civil wars (including all the "Such-and-such insurgency" entries) and "humanitarian interventions", you'll find that nearly all the remaining wars of the last forty-odd years involve trading nations invading. (Heck, Eritrea even invaded Ethiopia, which was its main trading partner.)

If trade is relevant to whether or not a country is likely to invade, it indicates an increased, not a decreased, likelihood.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. We need a few years to pass legislation to try and fix the last twelve year of GOP rule of Congress.

Anonymous said...

You also make the false assumption that a country undergoing trade will undertake fewer wars.

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Anonymous said...

How about people vote for the best candidate?

This kind of polictical mumbo-jumbo is best left to Politico.