Simple Math

This has been an unusually rotten week in Washington. The impeachment trial, doomed from the start, whimpered to a close. The President childishly refused to shake the offered hand of the Speaker of the House, who behaved just as childishly afterwards by ripping up her copy of his State of the Union address. That speech, a factually challenged ninety-minute ramble, had an all-world low point: awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh, a radio personality–one should refrain from calling him a journalist–whose only talent lies in pushing people’s buttons.

Wait a minute: I can think of somebody else with that talent.

Things were no better outside of Washington: Democrats can’t count ballots in Iowa, and the Department of Justice has come to Mississippi to investigate prison conditions. (That may sound like good news, but I suspect the fix is already in: the DOJ, currently run by the GOP, will find a way to exonerate the state’s Republican leadership, which will continue to underfund correctional facilities because “nothing’s wrong.”)

But back to the counting issue: many of the week’s problems lie with simple math. Democratic leaders apparently can’t count to 67, which is the number of senators required to impeach a president. Or pass a treaty. Or override a veto. Or expel a senator.

It won’t do any good, but I’d like to propose the use of even more simple math. Let’s require a 2/3 majority for any legislative body or committee to hold hearings. I’m not against hearings as part of a legitimate fact-finding process. However, they’ve become a large part of the reason that the machinery of government is stuck. They allow for political grandstanding–and, because most votes fall along party lines, not much else. Instead, let committees spend more time doing the things they’re supposed to do without hiding behind the delays caused by interminable hearings. The two parties might even rediscover how to play nicely with each other for the good of the people.

The last time the Congress managed to pass a budget was 2016. The government has been funded on a series of continuing resolutions since then.

Can’t we do better than that?

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5 Responses to Simple Math

  1. Blake Cheater says:

    1. Rush Limbaugh should not have been awarded the presidential medal of freedom. He didn’t deserve it.

    2. A 2/3 majority for holding hearings may in fact be a good idea. It would cut down on time and resources wasted. It may, as mentioned, force the two parties to work together. However, Congress is even pettier than most high schoolers so there would likely be repercussions. For example, if a hearing needed to take place about a sensitive and polarizing topic and one party did not want to address the issue, problems would arise. They could simply vote to not hold a hearing and pretend the problem didn’t exist, whatever it may be. Perhaps that would not happen, or there’s a loophole I am unaware of, but every decision has its consequences, good or bad.

  2. Bart says:

    Requiring 2/3 of the vote to hold a hearing would certainly help move things along in legislation. However, whether or not it is a good thing overall is questionable. With a 2/3 vote a minority holds a zero percent chance of being granted a hearing if the majority disagrees. This would simply reduce the influence of individuals and minorities in legislature by not even giving them a chance to call a hearing. Despite this, what all has changed? Nothing really. The majority is what our legislative body is all about. So in a way, everything above is unnecessary because it simply doesn’t change that our system is based off the majority. What’s the harm in giving them even more control?

  3. Bryonie Mandal says:

    We can do better and we should. As one replied on an earlier comment, it is truly hard for a minority to get 2/3 of the votes from the majority, which in turn results in not being able to express knowledge or concern on a matter at hand. This tarnishes the involvement of the people who got outvoted and it is not a way to account for everyone’s opinion as one should. There needs to be a way that people’s voices are heard, even if a lot of people don’t believe in it because others might stand for the cause of the underdogs. Our legislations should not be corrupt into only one way of thinking and it is understandable why they don’t try to be more inclusive (assuming it is harder to get everyone situated because there are so “many” people). The baseline is, we have to find a better way to show every one opinion and views in a way we can agree upon and not allow only the “most powerful.”

  4. Trevor Allen says:

    A 2/3 majority creates more problems than it solves. With the two-party system that we see ourselves in, it is highly unlikely that a substantial amount of one party’s representatives will switch sides to support the other party to speed up legislation. Saying that it would take a 2/3 majority to pass a bill to support a bill is illogical, especially if the bill concerns a specific minority of the population. If anything, more bills would not be passed because a higher number of representatives would be needed to get anything done, which could lead to a series of bills that do not present a substantial change. Granted, small steps in the right direction are still steps in the right direction, but this can still be done with the majority system that we use today.

  5. Ethan Hill says:

    While a 2/3 majority would solve the problem of resources being wasted on futile arrangements, it would also drastically reduce the chance of certain bills being introduced to legislation. With a 2/3 majority, a bill that is opposed to one side of the senate would have no chance of being considered for passing. There should, however, still be some type of regulation introduced to prevent the wasting of resources as there was not a single senator who thought that Trump would actually be removed from office as a result from the trial. Maybe an opinion “pre-poll” type vote should be taken and if the numbers are considerably higher than the majority, then the bill should be considered and if not then another vote should be taken to kill the bill completely.

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