System-Blaming We Can Believe In

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Matt Yglesias finally gets around to pointing out some senate rules that actually do keep the Dems from getting things done and actually should be changed:

Democrats hand out committee chairmanships by a blind seniority rule. Republicans do not. Chairman need to rotate out of their positions after fixed terms, which then gives the caucus as a whole input over who takes over next. Consequently, the Senate leadership has some meaningful leverage over Republican Senators—even Senators from liberal states. If they’re really determined to make Snowe (and Collins) vote “no,” they have tools at their disposal to make that happen. By contrast, the Democratic leadership heads into tough fights basically disarmed with no real tools of discipline and leverage at their disposal beyond the vague risk of a primary challenge. One day perhaps the Democratic caucus will decide that it wants to be an effective legislative party and it will adopt some principles that equalize the playing field. But until then, it’s going to be extremely difficult to overcome truly determined Republican opposition even with a large majority.

That explains a lot.  A lot.  I’d love to see the Dems change it, but I find myself doubting they ever will.

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