Dissolve the senate

Brian W

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By 2050 70% of Americans will live in just 20 states. That means that 30% of the population will have a filibuster proof majority in the senate, as well as massively disproportionate power in the electoral college. A "deserted states" president could easily be elected with less than 40% of the popular vote (perhaps less than 30%). How's that for the tyranny of the minority? The drain by the rural states on the rich urban states will continue on and on.

And this is all because in the 1790s, Rhode Island was afraid of Massachusetts, and South Carolina wanted to protect its slave industry. It's reminescent of pre-20th century oligarchies and Republican Rome, right before it became Imperial Rome.
 

Sand Bar Bill

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Recently deceased John Dingle made the same point in an article for The Atlantic.


Basically, the Senate is an absurdity given the modern realities of the United States. By 2050, 30% of the population will have 70 senators and 70% of the population will have 30 senators.
 

Sand Bar Bill

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ALso, another "perversion" of the senate is that it is argued that a party that appeals just to the big states will have to expand to learn to compromise to accommodate the little states.

The fallacy of that justification however is the reverse is not true; a party that just appears to the little states can control the senate without bothering to compromise at all with the big states. In short, 30% of the population would control a filibuster proof 70 votes by 2050, without compromising at all.

In real terms, the GOP does not have to compromise an iota, assuming the little rural states remain unwavering GOP states.
 

Mister T

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The Senate will never be dissolved. The best one may hope for is either:
  • a more progressive formula to allocate seats, while retaining an edge for smaller states;
  • or a reduction in senate powers, namely to capability to block legislation passed by the House, for a limited time only, like what happens for most European second chambers.
 

Paul M. Weir

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The Senate will never be dissolved. The best one may hope for is either:
  • a more progressive formula to allocate seats, while retaining an edge for smaller states;
  • or a reduction in senate powers, namely to capability to block legislation passed by the House, for a limited time only, like what happens for most European second chambers.
The latter is the situation in Ireland. The Irish Seanad can screw around with legislation, amend and delay it, but in the end the Dáil (House equivalent) has the final say and can totally override any Senate modifications. The English House Of Lords originally had powers equivalent to the US Senate, but throughout the early to mid 20th Century such powers were gutted as a response to obstructionism to social progress from the HoL.

The Senate, in its current form and function, is a hold over from the early days of constitutional monarchy, when the equivalents of the English House Of Lords were the dominant chambers. The Electoral College has a similar whiff to it. "We have to have men of property voting to prevent the riff-raff getting too uppity, bloody oiks!" The irony is that the Electoral College system ended up giving the US the ultimate low life sleaseball for president, a prospect which it was specifically designed to prevent.

It's time the US brought itself into at least the mid 20th Century with regard to its electoral and legislative institutions. The US abolished slavery which was a pillar of the early US, so why not abolish or gut those last two relics of aristocratic rule?
 

Brian W

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The US abolished slavery which was a pillar of the early US, so why not abolish or gut those last two relics of aristocratic rule?
I'd say we're 40 years away from that without a revolution to change it quickly. Rational reapportionment in the meantime would help a bit, but the same problem exists--those with the power to prevent it are also those that have the most to lose if it happens. And we already know that the republicans are against representative democracy, so I don't see any fixes anytime soon.
 
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