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Revolt of the freshmen

The most heartening news of the day is that there's a group of young senators who are threatening to vote against any energy bill that doesn't include a carbon cap. It seems they've not been around long enough to realize that the difficulty of doing something necessary doesn't excuse you from getting it done.

In a smart post, Greg Sargent notes that this is part of a larger trend in which the dysfunctions of the Senate have baffled freshman and sophomore senators, and the more senior members of the body have been unable to convince them that a tradition of dysfunction is a good argument for a future of dysfunction. A number of freshman senators -- among them Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall and Michael Bennett -- have been leading the anti-filibuster charge.

You can make too much of this, of course. There are veterans like Tom Harkin who've been railing against the Senate's nuttier aspects for decades now. But the number of the young Democrats who've loudly criticized the body is striking, and a pretty clear result of their entering the institution at a time when its worst habits have begun to overwhelm its daily operations.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 18, 2010; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

I'm excited about this. I think a large part of the "tea party" passion in the right wing is coming from this sense that politicians are all corrupt, and don't do anything based on what would be good and right. While I'm sure they strongly disagree with the pro-carbon-cap that these particular Senators seem to think is good and right, it *is* heartening to see Senators stand up for what they believe in.

[It's nice that it happens to coincide with something I actually believe in, also. But nevertheless, even if I legitimately disagreed with a Senator, I think in most instances I'd be happy to see them actually vote their conscience because of the tremendous benefits it would bring to the system. This depends, of course, on the assumption that Senators have a certain knowledge level on which they can vote their conscience. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of legislation, that's often not possible and they must rely on the judgment of their staffers. This, perhaps, is the real problem going forward...]

Posted by: madjoy | June 18, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Given that you say what these young senators are doing is heartening, shouldn't your line read: "It seems they've not been around long enough to realize that the difficulty of doing something necessary EXCUSES you from getting it done."?

Posted by: Flugendorf | June 20, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

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