America needs Fewer States

Strangely, one way to solve some of America’s political problems could be to reduce the number of states.

To explain, the Constitution gives each state two US Senators. That favors low-population white rural states and Republicans. Thus, in the 117th US Congress, 50 Democratic Senators represented 184.54 million Americans and 49 Republicans 142.99 million Americans, Vox’s Ian Millhiser estimates.

Therefore, Republicans can achieve a Senate Majority by taking one more US Senate Seat. Yet, the Grand Old Party (GOP) represents 41.5 million less people than the Democrats.

The Senate is Broken

The horrendous disparity could get far worse in just two decades. By 2040, 70 US Senators could represent just 30% of Americans; if current population trends continue, NPR claims.

The situation is already bleak. Insane US Senate rules give one US Senator; Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) who represents just 1.792 million people, the power to override the votes of 182.748 million Americans. A fake Senate tradition they call the filibuster gives Manchin the power to force his extreme neoliberal agenda on the entire nation.

Manchin can block legislation most Americans want, including voting rights, and efforts to battle climate change because of the Filibuster. Hence, fake Democrats such as Manchin and extreme Republicans control the US Senate. America is no longer a Democracy. Instead, America is an oligarchy ruled by 100 mostly old white men in the U.S. Senate.

Does America have too Many States?

One reason the US Senate Oligarchy has so much power is that America has too many states.

For example, America has six states with populations under one million in a nation of 334.041 million people. I calculate those seven states; Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Delaware had a combined population of 4.586 million. Thus, 12 US Senators represent 4.586 million people.

In contrast, I calculate the 12 US Senators for the six most populous states represent 135.908 million people. Those states are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Thus, less than five million people have the power to change the laws of the United States, rewrite the budget, throttle the president’s agenda, and appoint the judiciary.

Is Creating New States the Answer?

There are several potential solutions to the undemocratic Senate. For example, we could abolish the US Senate.

We could give higher population states, more senators. For instance, add an additional US Senator for each five million people in a state’s population. That could give California, nine US Senators and Texas six US Senators.

Another solution I have seen proposed is carving new states of high population areas. For example, a State of Los Angeles (Los Angeles County), a state of New York City, or a State of Brooklyn. One advantage to new states is that they will give higher population areas more representation.

For instance, Los Angeles County had a population of 10.014 million people in 2020. Moreover, Brooklyn had a population of 2.736 million in 2020. Therefore, I calculate Brooklyn had a larger population than 37 states in 2020.

Unfortunately, history shows creating new states will create more bureaucracy, raise taxes, and make government more inefficient by duplicating agencies. For example, a state of Brooklyn would have to create prison system, state legislature, parks, transportation department, colleges, etc.

Is Getting Rid of States the Answer?

Hence, reducing the number of states could be a more rational solution. Theoretically, we could cut taxes, reduce the size of government, and make government more efficient by folding smaller states into larger ones.

One solution could be to fold all the states with a population under one million, except Alaska, into larger states. For example, we could fold Delaware into Maryland.

An advantage to reducing the number of states is that we can reduce bureaucracy. For example, we could reduce the number of government departments, prisons, state legislators, universities, etc.

Here is my suggestion. First abolish West Virginia, they created that state to help elect Abraham Lincoln (R-Illinois) in the 1864 presidential election. I think they achieved that goal. We could fold both West Virginia and the District of Columbia into the Old Dominion. Both areas were originally part of Virginia.

Next fold Delaware into Maryland. Then combine Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island into one state of New England. Combine Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire into a new superstate.

Further west we can combine Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Kansas to make one state representing the Great Plains. Then fold Wyoming into Montana and Idaho into Utah to create new Western states. Other combinations to consider are Colorado and New Mexico and Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Finally, I would combine Alabama and Mississippi to create one Southern Super State.

I would give each of the new states a unicameral (one-house) legislature modeled on that in Nebraska. The unicameral legislature will appoint the state’s governor and cabinet officials, making American states more like Canadian provinces which have parliamentary systems. Parliamentary systems are more efficient and responsive to the people.

In addition, the unicameral legislature could have proportional representation and ranked-choice voting in elections.. Voters would elect the legislators every four years during the Presidential election.

Should we Abolish States?

This idea sounds radical, but I think it is reasonable. First, Americans no longer have the sentimental love for home states they once displayed.

Indeed, large portions of the nation’s population regularly switches states. Notably, in recent years, enormous numbers of people have fled states as diverse as California, West Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois, and New York.

Second, state governments are increasingly corrupt and ineffective. In particular, some state legislatures are undemocratic because of gerrymandering. For example, Democratic candidates received 53% of the votes cast for Wisconsin’s state legislature, yet Republicans control that body, Marquette University estimates.

Hence, many state governments are undemocratic, unrepresentative, and ineffective. I think some states no longer fulfill their purpose of representing a region’s people.

Yes, abolishing states sounds radical, but it has a historical precedent. In 1790, France’s National Assembly abolished that nation’s historic provinces and replaced them with 83 départements of equal size. Each département had the same institutions and was roughly the same size as the others.

One reason the Assembly abolished the provinces was to break the power of France’s aristocracy, which controlled provincial governments. A similar move could reduce the power of America’s oligarchy and make government more responsive.

I think America’s government is now so corrupt, undemocratic, and ineffective that we need to think about radical solutions. In other words, we need to think like the Founding Fathers who created a new government by rewriting the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention.