Skip to comments.POINTS TO PONDER The Senate represents states, not people. That’s the problem
Posted on 12/17/2019 3:57:27 PM PST by Liz
States as states do need representation in the federal government. Under the Constitution, they have far too much.
The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court spurred a lively discussion about institutional design.
After the vote, some noted that the 50 senators who voted to confirm represent about 45 percent of the population.
A number of astute constitutional historians quickly spoke up to point out that of course that happens, because the Senate represents states and not people. If you want to see the people represented, look to the House. But of course, the fact that the Constitution does something isnt the same as that something being good. We continue to debate the Constitution itself, and specifically the disproportional Senate. If our intuition tells us that theres something wrong when a minority has that much power, we should pay attention. The Senates equal representation of states not people should be discussed on its merits.
THE CASE FOR STATES The United States is a federal system. Each state has its own sovereignty and has some authority over its own interests. The relative authority of the state and the national government is contested, but the states retain something.
But since the federal government is so powerful, the states need a way to protect themselves. The Framers approach to this sort problem is to let ambition check ambition. The legislature and the president check and balance each other. Similarly, the states are not protected from the federal government by mere parchment barriers. They can defend themselves through their representation in the Senate. These concerns were central for the Framers, who were looking at the Constitution from the very state-centered perspective of the Articles of Confederation. Each state had its own government and identity, and their relationship to one another was weak. The Constitution aimed to make that relationship stronger, but states were still the players. An American was a citizen of their state first, and of the union second.
The case for people---We have come a long way since the founding. Political scientist Daniel J. Hopkins, in his new book, The Increasingly United States, traces how America has gone from all politics is local to a world in which national issues dominate even local conflicts. Hopkins devotes an entire chapter to the question of whether people think of themselves as Americans or as citizens of their states.
Across a wide range of measures, he shows that Americans see themselves as Americans first, citizens of their states second. As he puts it: Compared to their attachment to the nation as a whole, their place-based attachment is markedly weaker. What is more, the content of state-level identities is typically divorced from politics.
That finding doesnt mesh well with the idea of people being represented in government through their states. And citizens, politicians and parties have all long realized that. Political strategies for all national offices involve coordination across geography. If you live in a deep red state, you can donate to a candidate running in a purple one. If your district is safe for the Democrats, you can travel to canvass for a candidate in a swing district.
It is illegal for foreign nationals to contribute money to a US electoral campaign. It is neither illegal nor uncommon for citizens to contribute to electoral campaigns in other states. Some candidates receive sizable portions of their resources from out of their own state.
When Americans are hacking the Constitution to get around the geographic nature of our representation, that should be a red flag.
Balancing the representation of states and people Of course, the Constitution does not only allow for the representation of states. The central debate at the constitutional convention was over precisely this balance. Doesnt the House address that problem?
Yes, but poorly.
For one, because every state must have at least one member in the House, there are still distortions. But even aside from that, single-member districts means were still representing territory instead of people. These districts are almost impossible to draw so that the politicians elected reflect the balance of preferences across the entire country.
Right now, that means a bias toward Republicans. Democratic candidates could outpoll Republicans by up to five points and still not be favored to take control of the House. It doesnt matter whether this is due to conscious gerrymandering or because Democratic voters are concentrated in urban areas. The problem is single-member districts in the first place.
I dont know of any research to prove it, but I am pretty sure very few Americans think of themselves as first and foremost citizens of their congressional district. Even the president, for whom at least citizens across the country can vote, is elected through the Electoral College, which in turn filters votes through the states.
In short, the supposed balance between state interests and individual citizen interests that the Framers struck isnt much balance at all. Some Framers observed exactly that at the time. And as the country has evolved, the value of having such strong representation for geography seems to have only waned.
States were supposed to retain everything everything except those very few, limited powers expressly provided for the federal government.
Democrats want to neuter the Senate because it protects small, rural states.
They are for the tyranny of the majority.
Don’t like the rules, change them.
And good luck with that.
Learn To Code.
The author does not like the design of the Constitution.
There is a process, called the Amendment process.
I cherish federalism and the checks and balances.
They were not put in place merely to give the states power, but to allow the states to check the power of the Federal government, and the majority of people.
Tyranny by the majority is still tyranny.
Julia needs to learn to code.
Democrats want totalitarian power.
Correct. And since the 17th Amendment, states have not had enough power. The author has it completely upside down.
Kill The 17th
The 16th Too
Well, that was the original design. However, since the people now elect Senators, they are more beholden to their constituency, rather than the State.
So his premise is practically, not ideologically, incorrect.
Article really says nothing. They don’t like representatives from states making decisions. Maybe we should have a nationwide referendum on every decision? Obviously unworkable.
Just because representatives represent fewer people than senators still doesn’t mean they always reflect the popular will even in their own districts. Much less the common good.
Guess we shouldn’t have a president - that’s a single person representing every single citizen!
Boy those founding fathers sure were dumb! Epic /s
Just look towards California to see how well their system works - collapsing bridges, collapsing spillways, breaks in water delivery systems, criminal raids from sanctuary cities into the surrounding areas. These are the fruits of the Reynolds v Sims decision changing the California senate from representing the various areas of California to being apportioned by population.
It was a mistake to change the senate from being chosen in a manner decided by the states to one of popular vote.
In the end, Democrats are returning to familiar territory - wanting the slaves back on the plantation to work the harvests and provide for their needs; their voice is less than liberal’s voices, and must be squelched.
I wonder how loudly they will scream if Blacks don't give them 98% of their vote in 2020...
Yeah. It ain’t a glitch, it’s a feature. ‘Rats need to learn to live with it.
If you shouldn’t represent a state because it’s not “democratic” enough, then we shouldn’t have a President.
And what about that crazy unelected Supreme Court? Guess mob rule would be better.
Didn’t those founding fathers think of any of this stuff? /s
Yes. Young people have no clue, that the 17th eroded states' rights. It used to be that people in a state elected others who selected state senators, to truly represent their state's interests. That died with the 17th. Now senators are voted in by people representing a culture having nothing to do with their state, and those senators vote in lock-step with that culture. The Democrat culture is particularly nasty in not representing a state's interests.
Trump won 32 states. That means 64 Senators.
Dont like the rules, change them.
So, Hans & Julia, don’t like the Senate, write a new Constitution, and try and get the people to back it. I suppose you can get rid of that pesky 2nd Amendment while you’re at it.
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