Giving two senators to every state in the Union, regardless of population, was the result of something called The Great Compromise. A difference-splitter between those at the Constitutional Convention who thought each state should be equal in Congress (the Senate) and those who thought representation should be based on population (the House).
An added benefit, made clear in the last several days, is that having two senators from every state exactly doubles the chances that at least one of them will remember that our system values the act of compromise.
Utah’s senior senator, Orrin Hatch, is a solid Republican who has little or nothing good to say about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. (He doesn’t even seem to recall that its central provision — the mandate that everyone buy health insurance with taxpayer-funded subsidies if necessary — was once considered a Republican idea.)
But Hatch has no interest in holding his breath until the United States of America turns blue, even in the pursuit of stopping Obamacare, for a year or forever. In that, he is refreshingly unlike his junior partner, Mike Lee.
Lee was a coat-holder for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who yammered on for 21 hours and 19 minutes in what was billed as an old-fashioned filibuster designed to defund the ACA. But all Cruz was really doing, free associating about everything from Dr. Seuss to ostrich-skin cowboy boots, was promoting himself as the author of an economic catastrophe, or two, cooked up by radicals (the word "conservative" hardly fits) who are ready to shut down the government and/or refuse to raise its debt limit unless Democrats agree to smother health care reform in its cradle.
There are many reasonable arguments to be made against the ACA. None of them comes anywhere near being serious enough to be worth shutting down the federal government or defaulting on the national debt.
The ripples that would run through the economy — everything from unpaid workers to closed national parks — would seriously undermine the fragile recovery. That would do infinitely more harm to all of us — rich and poor, liberal and conservative, urban and rural — than even the most pessimistic assessment of finally rolling out Obamacare.
There remains some hope that the Utah senator Congress will listen to this week will not be the firebrand who is willing to bring down the economy to settle a personal grudge, but the one who understands that there are other, better, if longer, ways to turn the nation in the direction you think it should go.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.