“These are the times that try men’s souls” ― Thomas Paine, The American Crisis.
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court proves the US Senate does not represent most Americans.
To demonstrate, Senators representing 44.2% of the U.S. population nominated Kavanaugh, The Washington Post calculates. Tellingly, Senators opposed to Kavanaugh represent around 55.8% of Americans.
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump notes Kavanaugh has the dubious distinction of: “being the first justice nominated by someone who lost the popular vote to earn his seat on the bench with support from senators representing less than half of the country; while having his nomination opposed by a majority of the country.”
Therefore, we can argue the United States Senate is no longer a representative legislative body. Instead of the American people, the Senate represents a series of rural states; or worse, an oligarchy based in New York.
The Senate will get Less Representative in the Future
Frighteningly, the Senate will be even less representative soon. Surprisingly, just 30 Senators could represent 70% of Americans by 2040.
Under those circumstances, 70 Senators will represent 30% of Americans, David Birdsell predicts. Birdsell is the dean of the school of public and international affairs at Baruch College. Tellingly, Birdsell is one of many demographers offering such warnings.
As an illustration 30% of Senators will represent the 15 states that contain 67% of the population in 2040, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service projects. The Center at the University of Virginia forecasts nine states will be home to half of America’s population in 2040, Bump notes.
Consequently, just 18 Senators will represent half of Americans by 2040. That situation violates the values of the American Revolution. For instance, one of the Revolution’s main slogans was “no taxation without representation.” Presently, the United States violates that ideal for most of its citizens.
Markedly, just 30% of the population will elect Senators enacting taxes, voting to go to war, and approving federal judges. As a result America will have a government that violates its basic values.
How to Create a Senate that represents most Americans
Obviously, the Senate needs reform if America wants a representative government.
I suggest allowing a state to elect an additional Senator for each 10 million residents it has. Thus, the larger states will get more representation in Washington. More importantly, the Senate will be more representative of the American people.
California which has 39 million people will have five Senators; for instance, and Texas will each have four Senators. To explain; the US Census Bureau estimates Texas has 27.469 million residents and Florida around 20 million inhabitants.
Under this system, six states, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois will have three Senators. In detail, each of those states has over 10 million residents. Consequently, the Senate will have 25 additional members.
Making the Senate more representative will be tough because it requires a Constitutional amendment. Obviously, implementing such an amendment will be tough. Republicans will fight tooth and nail to prevent any dilution of their power.
History teaches us we can make the Senate More Representative
That sounds tough, but it is not impossible. There was a time when America faced a similar crisis of an unrepresentative Senate.
Until 1913 state legislatures appointed U.S. Senators. That allowed corrupt special interests; like political machines and big corporations, to buy Senate seats for their puppets. Therefore, a corrupt oligarchy controlled the Senate.
The 17th Amendment changed that by allowing the direct election of U.S. Senators by the people. The 17th Amendment resulted from a long political battle during the Progressive Era (1893-1917).
Will the Kavanaugh Nomination spark Senate reform?
“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody” ― Thomas Paine.
History shows that Americans have overcome corrupt oligarchies before and made their government more representative. We did it in 1776, 1860, and 1913 and we will do it again.
I have to wonder if the anger over the Kavanaugh nomination will be the spark that ignites a movement to reform the Senate. If it is, Republicans will have only themselves to blame.
By abusing their power to impose their will on the nation, Republican Senators are doing Americans a service. The Republicans are telling Americans reform is necessary. I wonder if Americans have the brains to see the necessity and the guts to fight for reform.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace” ― Thomas Paine.