The U.S. Senate is the least-democratic part of America's government, because it gives huge power to a small minority.
Little Wyoming, with barely more than a half-million people, has two senators, just like California, with 38 million. Therefore, each Wyoming voter has 70 times more voice in the U.S. Senate than each California voter. This clobbers the democratic principle of majority rule and one-man-one-vote.
Worse, individual senators or cliques of senators can use technicalities to block the will of the Senate majority. The filibuster -- endless debate that can't be stopped without a 60-vote action -- is the most glaring example.
Republicans have become filibuster fanatics, using the obstruction about four times more than Democrats ever did. During the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, Senate Democrats imposed 130 filibusters -- but GOP senators already have inflicted 307 in President Obama's first five years. Seemingly, they want to block every action and keep Washington in gridlock.
Now Senate Democrats have struck back, using a ploy called the "nuclear option" to halt filibusters against presidential appointments (except Supreme Court appointments). Mother Jones magazine explained:
"The last straw came when Republicans announced their intention to filibuster all of Obama's nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court, simply because they didn't want a Democratic president to be able to fill any more vacancies. At that point, even moderate Democrats had finally had enough. For all practical purposes, Republicans had declared war on Obama's very legitimacy as president, forbidding him from carrying out a core constitutional duty."
West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller voted with Senate Democrats to halt this endless blockage. "For months now, we've been operating in gridlock, unable to do our job," he said, adding that "Republican obstructionism" is damaging government "purely for political reasons."
In contrast, West Virginia's Joe Manchin voted with Republicans, saying: "I firmly believe that the filibuster is a vital protection of the minority views."In the U.S. Senate, the tail has wagged the dog. The few have thwarted the many. But now that problem is partly solved.