The United States has a bicameral legislature, meaning that Congress is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives, and the Senate. The Senate is made up of 2 Senators for each state, for a total of 100 voting members. These Senators are up for election every 6 years, staggered so that one-third of the Senate is up for election every 2 years. For something to pass the Senate, it either needs 50 + 1 affirmative votes, 60 affirmative votes, or 67 affirmative votes, depending on the type of legislature and filibusters. While this may seem fair, it isn’t.
The Senate is completely non-representational. There is no regard to state population. Wyoming, a state with 585,000 residents, has the same number of Senators as California, a state with upwards of 39 million residents. And yes, the House of Representatives does indeed take population into account, but the House can be easily gerrymandered to favor one party despite losing the popular vote. Also, legislation needs to pass both chambers before it can be signed into law. Because of great population differences between states, some voters in this country are, politically, more powerful than other voters. In fact, Wyoming voters have 69 times the power of California voters. That is because all of California’s 18.2 million voters equate to 2 votes in the Senate, while Wyoming’s 262,000 voters get the same 2 votes. Does that seem fair? Especially when it comes to major legislation, such as Health Care or Tax Reform, voters from smaller states simply have more of a say than voters in larger states. Really, the opposite should be true. More people should equal more votes, right?
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Senators are also inclined to put their state before the well being of the country. Senators make decisions that affect the entire nation. However, they are only elected by a single state. To ensure reelection a to remain popular in their state, Senators will often vote for legislation that benefits their state but has no effect on or even hurts other states. Bad legislation is passed when those who pass it don’t have the interests of the country at heart.
Finally, not even the whole nation is represented in the Senate. No, I’m not talking about different voting powers, I’m talking about the fact that millions of US Citizens living in Washington D.C. and US Territories have no congressional voting power whatsoever. More people live in Puerto Rico than in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming combined. Yet they have no votes. Bills that pass Congress impact these territories as much as any other state, and the citizens of these territories pay federal taxes. These Americans should be given the same representation as all other Americans.
You might be thinking, “America is a republic, not a democracy; if it was a democracy all the small states would be hurt by bigger states.” I have two answers: First, yes, I know America is a republic, that’s why I’m proposing a change, not an alteration. Second, let’s talk about the 2 wolves and 1 lamb argument. The argument says that democracy isn’t fair, and it uses the example of two wolves and one lamb voting on what’s for dinner. There are two main problems with this argument:
- It doesn’t use a large voting force, and it uses a simple majority voting system. There are only 3 animals, and a simple majority of the animals get to make a decision. In a real legislature, there are many voters, each with different views and stances. Also, under my proposed solution (we’ll get to that later), legislation would require more than just 50% + 1, ensuring that something like this never happens.
- It doesn’t mention that there’s a freshly cooked meal beside them. I’m talking about compromise. Nobody is ever going to get exactly what they want, especially in Congress. However, compromises can allow Congress to pass meaningful legislation that makes everybody happy.
So, here’s the realistic version of that argument: 40 wolves, 35 lambs, and 25 birds are deciding on what to eat for dinner. 60% of them have to agree on what to eat, and there a many options. Doesn’t sound so crazy anymore, does it?
Alright, so how do we fix all of this? Here’s what I would do, for starters. I would immediately give D.C. and other territories the same Congressional representation as other states. Any changes to representation will affect them as well. Next, I’d make the quorum of the House of Representatives 70%, and require a 60% majority to pass anything. Next, I’d make gerrymandering illegal, ensuring that one vote equals one fair vote. Then, I’d make the House the upper chamber, basically switching the roles of the House and the Senate. Next, I’d make the Senate nonpartisan, with Senators identified by ideals, not their party. Finally, I’d require a quorum of 70% in the Senate and require a 60% to pass everything except for Impeachment related legislation, which would require 66%. This solution isn’t perfect, and the Senate still doesn’t fairly represent the people, but it’s the best possible solution without drastically changing the Constitution and the framework of America. Things may move a little slow at first, but that’s good, the people need time to decide on issues and notify their Representatives of their decision, and Congress needs time to maximize the favorability of the bill.
In conclusion, the Senate simply isn’t fair, and we can only go so far to fix it without changing the entire Constitution.