The Senate Imbalance

In a country where one man/one vote is supposed to be the ruling philosophy, the Senate makes a real mockery of that concept. As shown in the illustration above seven low population states, including Iowa, swing a big hammer in the senate whereas California is barely represented.

The little blue spot in the corner in California is Los Angeles County. LA County is the largest county in the US by population with 10 million people. That is about 1/4 of the total population of California. Therefore, mathematically, if LA has 1/4th of California’s population then they have 1/4th of California’s 2 senators or 1/2 of a senator.

The large red swath has 7 states and approximately the same 10 million people. The states in the picture are Iowa (3 Million), Nebraska (2 million), South Dakota (.75 M), North Dakota (.75 M), Montana (1 M), Idaho (2 M) and Wyoming (.5 M). Seven states  = 14 senators. Of those 14 senators only one that I know of is a Democrat. That is Jon Tester of Montana.

So – a little more math – the 10 million people in the 7 states have 28 times as much power in the Senate as the 10 million people in LA County. (14 divided by 1/2).

Such an imbalance of power in favor of Republicans is one of the many things that keeps any legislation to meet the country’s needs from being passed. 

As if that wasn’t enough, in the current 50/50 split in the Senate, Democratic senators represent 42 million more people than Republican senators. Once again dong some math, with a population of @330 million, that means that Democrats represent nearly 186 million people while Republicans represent about 144 million. Percentage wise that means Democrats in the senate representation 56.5% while Republicans represent 43.5%.

From the Guardian of March 12th    

But critics of the US Senate say that for years now, the chamber has not been a field of fair democratic play, paralyzed by its own internal rules and insulated from the popular will by a 230-year-old formula for unequal representation.

Instead, its critics say, the Senate has become a firewall for a shrinking minority of mostly white, conservative voters across the country to block policies they don’t agree with and safeguard the voter suppression tactics that shore up Republican power.

The numbers are staggering. Currently Democratic senators represent nearly 40 million more voters than Republican senators – but the Senate is split 50-50, with the vice-president, Kamala Harris, wielding the tie-breaking vote. By 2040, 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, and to be represented by only 30 senators, while 30% of Americans will have 70 senators voting on their behalf, according to analysis by David Birdsell of Baruch College’s School Of Public And International Affairs. The Senate has counted only 11 African American members in its history, out of almost 2,000 total.

“There’s no doubt that the Senate is broken and has been broken for a long period of time,” said Ira Shapiro, a former Senate staffer, Clinton administration trade official and the author of Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?. “It’s been in decline probably for 30 years, and that decline has deepened over the last 12 years.”

As you may have noted from the excerpt, this is a trend that will be getting worse as metropolitan areas grow and rural area shed population. In a few years the situation may become totally baked into the system. 

As of they needed to, Republican legislatures in some 43 states have passed or introduced bills to suppress the votes those potentially on the left. 

We are at the very crossroads of America passing from some resemblance to a democracy to a permanent oligarchy with the Senate being a fixed minority ruled Republican institution.

With that I will make an early appeal to vote for whoever runs against Grassley in 2022.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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1 Response to The Senate Imbalance

  1. A.D. says:

    Thank you for that map with the tiny blue dot and the huge red splotch. It blew my mind.

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