More about the U.S. Senate: Citizens from the smallest, Republican, and most conservative states that represent only 17 percent of the U.S. population can elect 51 senators and effectively rule the senate over the objections of the other 83 percent of us. It only takes 42 senators from smallest states representing 10 percent of the population to uphold a filibuster and effectively block any legislation favored by the vast majority. In no other western democracy is the potential for this kind of misrepresentation and minority rule so extreme.
The senate Republicans who blocked President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, represented 20 million fewer people than the Democrats who supported him.
So there we have it, two distortions of American democracy, the electoral college and the makeup of the senate, that punish the majority and reward the well-to-do Republican minority. Changing either of them will require a Constitutional amendment, a huge undertaking.
But we Americans can do it if we put our shoulders to the wheel. Let’s get started.
One thought on “Two Distortions (3)”
Our founding fathers were wise men. Indeed, as a group, I would chose them over the politicians who are running our country today..When these men worked together to create a functioning government, they had certain principles to guide them. First, they were creating a union of separate colonies that must be persuaded to accept the governing instrument that they proposed. Each colony, regardless of its size and population, considered itself the equal of any other. Thus, in the upper body of the legislature, each colony (state) was given equal representation. Without this provision, the Constitution would never have been accepted; and I firmly believe that no amendment changing this arrangement could ever be passed. Nor do I believe it should be.
Second, the electoral college was created because of the founding fathers’ distrust of the “mob.” They wanted to give citizens the ability to express their wishes, but they feared pure democracy and the possibility of mob rule, so they contrived a method to filter the popular vote through the state legislatures and the electors. State legislatures no longer play a role in this process, but the electoral college still endures. There are pros and cons as to its elimination, but it tends to give smaller states somewhat more influence in national elections than if we relied solely on a popular vote, and I believe that is good.
Remember, the United States was not established as a democracy. It is a federated union of states with a system of representative government. No government is perfect, but I believe ours has performed reasonably well over the past 233 years.. We need changes such as term limits and the line-item-veto, but any fundamental alteration of the Constitution is unnecessary. Instead, we should concentrate on electing good men and women to office.