We do not live in a democracy or even a proper republic, since in a republic our delegated representatives are supposed to reflect the will of the majority. New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie is always a must-read on our broken Constitution, and his latest (free link) — on what’s wrong with the Senate — is especially worthwhile. Consider this: “Roughly half of Americans, some 169 million people, live in the nine most populous states. Together, those states get 18 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate.”
And as Bouie notes, that disparity was seen by some of the key founders as a bug, not a feature, but a bug that was needed in order to get support from the small states, which were already slated to be outvoted in the House of Representatives. James Madison referred to the Senate as “the lesser evil.” During the constitutional convention, Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson said the purpose of the national government was to empower individuals, not “the imaginary beings called states.” The 14th Amendment further enshrines individuals over the power of the states. Yet anti-democratic institutions persist, including the Senate, the Electoral College and, as a consequence, the Supreme Court.
Bouie has long shown that he knows his stuff, but in this case he’s riffing on a recent Washington Post report that I’ll confess I haven’t read. I’ll try to go back and take a look at it, but in the meantime, here’s another free link for you. And here is something I wrote last year on how government by a numerical minority is one of the reasons that this country is being torn apart.
The majority is not going to put up with being disempowered forever. The only question is how, and when, it will end.