... about the war vote | Zork Asks | Indy Week
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... about the war vote 

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We were following the debate in your U.S. Senate last week on "transitioning" out of Iraq—the Reed-Levin Amendment—right up to the actual vote. Then you lost us. It seemed like 53 out of the 100 senators were in favor of the amendment, and 46 against ... but somehow that wasn't enough? Doesn't your Constitution say the majority rules?

Welcome to our "democracy," Zork. For reasons that surpass understanding, Senate rules allow 41 members to block legislation using the "filibuster." What's a filibuster? It used to mean senators talking a bill to death until 60 other senators were willing to shut them up (by voting for "cloture"). Now, since our senators are too lazy to conduct a real filibuster, it means any senator can insist that, on this bill, it's gonna take 60 votes to pass it. That's what happened to the Reed-Levin Amendment: The Republican minority leader insisted on 60, so 52-47 wasn't enough (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted no, but why he did that is too complicated to explain here).

What makes it even worse, the Senate isn't democratic to begin with. Every state gets two votes, from little Wyoming (pop. 515,000) to enormous California (pop. 36 million). On this vote, California's two senators voted yes; they were offset by Wyoming's two, who voted no. Which helps explain why, though the American people want our troops out of Iraq, Bush keeps them there anyway.

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