The issue of the tyranny of the extreme minority when it comes to House traditions is a very real problem in American politics. The rules set by the House of Representatives are meant to ensure the smooth functioning of the legislative body and promote bipartisanship. However, they have also allowed a small minority of members to effectively dictate the agenda of the House and block proposals from the majority. This situation has enabled a handful of representatives to dominate the agenda of the entire House and thus limit the power of the majority.
Tyranny of the extreme minority can be seen in the way that House rules are used to automatically alter of majority-vote outcomes. For example, if a bill or amendment needs two-thirds vote of approval to pass, instead of the usual majority vote, a slim majority of legislators can effectively control the outcome and limit what proposals get onto the floor for consideration, thus silencing the voice of the majority of members.
By further disadvantaging the majority, House rules also facilitate obstruction by a small minority. Through the use of procedural delays, such as requiring a two-thirds majority to pass legislation, a small minority of representatives can significantly slow the legislative process. In addition, special rules like the “motion to recommit” can be used to push politically unfavorable legislation out of the House without granting the majority a chance to debate the merits of the proposal and vote.
The tyranny of the extreme minority in the House of Representatives is a worrisome development, as it can lead to the entrenchment of partisan politics and prevent essential legislation from being passed and important reforms from being implemented. As such, it is essential that policy makers (e.g., the House Speaker) discourage and limit tactics that are intended to stifle the power of the majority. This can be done through the use of bipartisan commissions to review existing rules, the introduction of measures to encourage bipartisanship, and the elimination of some of the most egregious rules which have placed a disproportionate amount of power in the hands of a few.