The Corner

Politics & Policy

That’s What the Senate Is There For

Left: Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 27, 2021. Right: Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 4, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Will of the people” talk always creeps me out, because it is usually the prologue to despotism and demagoguery.

But the people who are complaining that Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema is “thwarting the will of the people” really need a civics lesson: Thwarting the will of the people is precisely what the Senate is there to do.

It is also what the Bill of Rights is there to do. It is what the separation of powers is there to do.

Keeping the “will of the people” in check is why we have written laws, unalienable rights, and legal procedure.

I know that people get tired of hearing conservatives tut-tut about how the United States is a constitutional republic rather than a democracy, but there is a point there worth understanding. Our constitutional order emphatically rejects the premise that 50 percent plus 1 makes wrong into right or tyranny into justice.

Sometimes — often! — the will of the people is immoral and destructive. In which case, the people can get stuffed.

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