The filibuster, however, is only part of the larger problem of the conquest of America’s political institutions by an unrepresentative minority whose outright refusal to compromise pushes the entire system to a breaking point.
A large majority of Americans support universal background checks, a ban on “assault-style” weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and “red flag” laws that would prevent people who would harm themselves or others from using guns. would buy.
But the American political system is not designed to directly represent national majorities. Insofar as that happens, it goes through the House of Representatives. The Senate, of course, represents the states. And in the Senate (much to the chagrin of many of the drafters), population doesn’t matter — each state gets equal say. Fifty-one lawmakers representing a minority of voters can block 49 lawmakers representing a majority of them (and that’s before we get to the filibuster, again).
Add to that the polarization of voters by geography—a rural and suburban Republican party versus an urban and suburban Democratic Party—and the picture goes from bad to perverse. Not only can Republicans, who usually represent the least populous states, win a Senate majority by far less than a majority vote nationally, but by taking advantage of the filibuster, a small number of Republican senators can win an even smaller faction of representing voters can overturn legislation supported by most voters and most members of Congress.
The Senate may have been counter-majority by nature, but there is a difference between a system that tempers majorities and one that hinders them from any action. We have the latter, and like Congress under the failed articles of Confederation, it makes a mockery of what James Madison called the “Republican Principle,” which is supposed to empower a majority of people’s “sinister views.” from a minority faction to be defeated by “ordinary vote”.
Instead of suppressing the “faction mischief”, our system gives them power. Few Americans want the most permissive gun laws on offer. But those who have conquered the Republican Party and used its institutional advantages to both end gun control and elevate a comprehensive and idiosyncratic view of gun rights to the level of the Constitution.
The result is a country so steeped in weapons that there is no real hope of returning to the status quo ante. US gun laws are about to become even more tolerant. If the Supreme Court rules as expected in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, it will break a law requiring a license to carry a concealed firearm.