Opinion: Supermajority!

The US Senate Elections are finally over!

Last November’s contest has dragged on, primarily as a result of a protracted legal battle in closely fought Minnesota. Last week, however, incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman finally abandoned his legal suit after the State’s Supreme Court found unanimously in favour of Democrat Al Franken, the liberal former radio talk show host and author of ‘Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right’. Franken is becoming adept at getting his way in the Courts, Fox News having failed in their bid to sue him for using their ‘Fair and Balanced’ slogan against them.

Franken was sworn in on Tuesday, and his victory belatedly brings the Democratic Caucus to 60, enabling them – theoretically at least – to attain the three-fifths majority needed for a motion of cloture, or guillotine, which would prevent fillibustering Republicans from talking out Democratic measures.

However, not all the 60 were elected as Democrats. Senator Arlen Specter, 79, of Pennsylvania ended 44 years as an elected Republican in April by defecting to the Democrats, but remains rather conservative on crime and national security. And two other Senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, were elected as Independents, and caucus with the Democrats only for Committee allocations. While Sanders seems likely to continue supporting Democratic positions – he describes himself as a ‘democratic socialist’ – Lieberman, Al Gore’s 2000 Vice Presidential running mate, is a less certain vote for Majority Leader Harry Reid, especially on foreign and defence matters. He has been famously hawkish on Iraq and other Middle East issues, and when ousted by a more left-wing opponent in his state’s Democratic primary, he ran as an Independent and retained his Senate seat, receiving much support from Republican voters.

Whether, therefore, the Democrats could actually manage to wield their ‘supermajority’ remains to be tested. As has been noted before in debate on Liberal Democrat Voice, it may not necessarily be a good thing if they do. My own view is that one possible positive effect might be to help stop climate change deniers blocking efforts to combat that particular menace.

* Terry Gilbert is a former Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate, and has been a Lib Dem member since 1983.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International.


  • “My own view is that one possible positive effect might be to help stop climate change deniers blocking efforts to combat that particular menace.”

    And what if said deniers have public support for their blocking measures? Not very democratic are you?

  • Actually, conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson are more likely to be unreliable than Lieberman.

    And you’ve forgotten the few Republican liberals left, such as Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. All in all, the situation is too fluid to assess.

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