Neil MitchellNeil Mitchell has been on the radio this morning banging on about how fringe groups can get elected to the Senate. Therefore, the voting system for the Senate’s got to be reformed, he says. If he’s talking about “above the line voting” I’d have to agree with him, but he didn’t seem to be arguing that. The argument seemed to be that some of these people are idiots.  But, Neil, they can’t get any of their ideas up unless they’re supported by a majority of Senators, and Senators aren’t likely to support complete idiocy.

I think what you mean, Neil, is you’d like to see the Senate reflecting the ideas of the government of the day. You don’t want to see the government questioned or defeated on an issue in the Senate.

Then why not go the whole hog and say you’d like to see the Senate abolished, because that would provide the same result? You can probably put up quite good arguments to abolish the Senate, but that’s another issue from changing the proportional representation system of voting.

There’s a story about the US Senate that may be mythical, because I’ve seen it variously attributed to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln: but it does make a valid point.

An enraged politician tells the President the Senate is being obstructive and believes it ought to be abolished.

“No” says the President. “Why am I pouring my tea into this saucer?”

“To cool it” answered the politician.

“Just so” replied the President.

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