The Senate: Is it undemocratic?
Americans are living under “minority rule,” said Jamelle Bouie in Slate.com. This is supposed to be a democracy, with a majority of votes deciding which party’s candidates take office. But a president “who lost the popular vote by 3 million ballots” recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court; Kavanaugh in turn was narrowly confirmed by a GOP-controlled Senate “representing just 44 percent of all Americans.” For that injustice you can thank the Electoral College and the Senate—two institutions that create “huge disparities of representation.” The Constitution gives each state two senators, regardless of population, which means that California’s 40 million residents get the same Senate representation as Wyoming’s 580,000 residents. “That is absurd,” said Dan Kennedy in WGBH.org. The Framers wanted to prevent a “tyranny of the majority,” but didn’t expect a minority controlling every branch of government, leaving “the majority out in the cold.”
The Senate’s anti-majority bias has a racial impact, said David Leonhardt in The New York Times. While large states such as California, New York, and Florida are racially diverse, smaller states tend to be “overwhelmingly white.” As a result, the Senate gives black Americans only 75 percent the representation of whites, while Hispanics get just 55 percent. Since it’s unlikely small states will ever surrender their disproportionate power, granting statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—collectively home to 4 million people, more than 90 percent of them black or Hispanic—could make the Senate and the country “a fairer place.”
If you start by insisting that “every hue and ethnicity be perfectly represented in Congress,” said Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times, you’ll have to redraw every state and congressional district too. Besides, the Constitution established states “as sovereign entities in our republican order,” and the Senate was created to represent states, which have legitimate interests of their own. Just a few years ago, Democrats were “bragging about their permanent majority,” said Rich Lowry in the New York Post. Now they’re “complaining it’s impossible for them to win under the governing regime that we’ve had for more than 200 years.” Perhaps if Democrats hadn’t given up on appealing to voters in “flyover country,” they’d still be able to elect senators in places like North Dakota—which had two Democratic senators “as recently as 2010.” Stop whining: The Senate is not a “conspiracy against the Left.”