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“There is a solution, however, that could gain immediate popular support: Abolish the Senate.” I Served in Congress Longer Than Anyone. Here’s How to Fix It. John D. Dingell, former Michigan Representative. (Atlantic)
posted by The Whelk (102 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
“There is a solution, however, that could gain immediate popular support: Abolish the Senate.”

Or just combine them to form a single chamber that votes together on legislation, no other changes needed.
posted by Brian B. at 7:34 AM on December 5


Or just combine them to form a single chamber that votes together on legislation, no other changes needed.

keep workin' that scroll wheel cause that's right there in the article
posted by entropone at 7:39 AM on December 5 [21 favorites]


keep workin' that scroll wheel cause that's right there in the article

Exactly. Now it's in the thread. It's more pragmatic too because abolishment would open the Pandora's box of a constitutional convention where conservatives would enshrine lunacy.
posted by Brian B. at 7:43 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


“There is a solution, however, that could gain immediate popular support: Abolish the Senate.”

Reminds me of an old story about a new Representative arriving in Washington and being shown the ropes by one of the grand old poobahs of that institution. As they were walking through the Capitol the young Representative happened to refer to the members of the other party as "the enemy." The older Representative immediately stopped and corrected him: "The members of the other party are just the opposition, the enemy is those bastards in the Senate."
posted by firechicago at 7:44 AM on December 5 [37 favorites]


ref
posted by growabrain at 7:51 AM on December 5


Well, if you can do the explicitly impossible I guess there’s nothing stopping you from solving other problems.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:51 AM on December 5 [15 favorites]


Hey, all states would still have equal suffrage in the Senate. They would all just have zero senators.
posted by Jpfed at 7:53 AM on December 5 [22 favorites]


The zero senators equals equal representation is well supported in Supreme Court jurisprudence by the decision that the prohibition on unreasonable bail does not prohibit the absence of bail entirely.

It could also be argued that the dicta indicating that perpetually increasing the duration of copyright does not violate the limited time clause would also support this.

On the other hand, another alternative is to simply[1] strip the Senate of all powers and hand those to the House. That one requires less interpretation to be considered valid.

[1] The word "simply" may be doing a bit of heavy lifting here.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 8:22 AM on December 5 [10 favorites]


Maybe the larger states could break themselves up into a bunch of little states so that each one has the same population as Wyoming.

That's about 555 States, half of them probably with crazy thoroughbred horseracing type names like "Footstepsinthesand" and "Malibu Moon." Memorize that, 5th graders!
posted by xigxag at 8:23 AM on December 5 [34 favorites]


Alternately, one could simply ratify an amendment that gives all power that formerly belonged to the Senate -- confirming judges and appointments, passing legislation -- to the House. Much like the British House of Lords, the Senate would still exist; it would still have two Senators per state, it would just have no actual function.
posted by Gelatin at 8:23 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Man, am I tired of this argument, which essentially argues that baiting and switching is cool as long as we’re on the right side.

The states made an 18th century deal to come in together, and ensured that small states would always have an equal voice, for the protection of smaller states. The solution is not “abolish the protection of smaller states”, but rather, that if one state starts to have 1/10 the population of the US or whatever, that state could be broken in two. There’s no reason, say, Texas and California couldn’t be broken up into three states each.
posted by corb at 8:28 AM on December 5 [9 favorites]


This is all pretty deep into "There's no rule that says a dog can't play basketball!" territory. To change anything about the Senate's constitutional powers -- in particular, advice and consent -- is going to take no less than 67 Senators to say "Sure! Fire me!", then 38 states saying "Yes! We definitely want to give up our major advantage in Congress!"

I love Johnny Dings. He was a lion of the House. He remains a great mind, an indispensable source of humor and knowledge of policy and how to enact, administer, and change it. But this is a dumb idea that won't get anywhere. The solution isn't "No Senate", it's "Better Senators". It's "Knock more doors" and it's "Make more noise" and it's "Never forget what's at stake".
posted by Etrigan at 8:33 AM on December 5 [15 favorites]


Note that Rep Dingell points out that this is likely an entire generation's work to accomplish. He also suggests public funding of elections and getting rid of the Electoral College - both excellent ideas that might be easier to accomplish.

Also if you're not following him on twitter you're missing wonderful stuff.
posted by leslies at 8:34 AM on December 5 [11 favorites]


"States" didn't make the deal -- people representing those states did. Those people are dead. The "switch" part of the "bait and switch" is being made hundreds of years later when people have realized that the malapportionment is more of a problem today than the original problem that the malapportionment was trying to solve is.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:35 AM on December 5 [38 favorites]


Yes let’s end the system that allows Rhode Island and Vermont to thwart Texas and Florida, and instead go to a system where the likes of Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan can unilaterally pass whatever they want. That’s way better.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:39 AM on December 5 [10 favorites]


I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I assume that abolishing the Senate must be incredibly hard to do. For starters, you could instead increase the number of reps to make the House truly representative. Make congressional districts equal to the population of the smallest population state. That'll just about double the number of districts and reps.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:42 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


The states made an 18th century deal to come in together, and ensured that small states would always have an equal voice, for the protection of smaller states.

Pretty sure this was for the protection of the ability of white male landowners in rural states to keep enslaving other human beings and there's really nothing sacred about that that needs to be honored.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:45 AM on December 5 [54 favorites]


runcibleshaw, France currently looks like that. One part of all the social unrest in France right now is that there's a lot of talk about making the system more streamlined, like the US, so they don't have to pay the salaries of so many politicians.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:48 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I may have been using ctrl-F incorrectly, but it's frustrating that Dingell never uses the word "suffrage" at all, and thus never answers the crucial objection being raised here and elsewhere. I'm leaning in agreement with "zero is equal!", or at least I'd support any push to significantly reduce its powers, but that's tricky. It remains pretty sensible to argue that the Constitution explicitly entitles all states to equal, positive-number representation in some part of government that has real power... not just to be technically "equal" in a thing called a Senate.

xigxag: Maybe the larger states could break themselves up into a bunch of little states so that each one has the same population as Wyoming.

A similar take on this, keeping the same total number of states: The U.S. Map Redrawn as 50 States With Equal Population (from Mental Floss). Serves as a good visualization of population density. Plus each of the "states" is given a new (if not quite racehorse-unusual) name.

As a serious proposal I'd say the flaws outweigh the merits. A divided California (for instance) wouldn't have value to Californians equal to the sum of its parts -- there would no longer be the shared tax base, single state government etc. Not really worth it for extra senators. But I love maps like that one in a speculative/worldbuilding way.

To extend this after seeing corb's comment: If we grant the merit of smaller states needing protection/rights (and I'm on the fence about that, as compared to the rights of localities and individuals), then fixing it with the creation small states by mitosis, like so many political amoebas, seems... philosophically weird in a way I can't articulate yet. Like that Dr Seuss book where the creatures keep adding and removing stars (signifying status) from their bellies.

There's a compromise some nations (e.g Germany) use, but which would definitely be unconstitutional here, whereby the upper house provides quasi-proportional representation -- each state is entitled to a bare minimum of legislators, plus the biggest states are prevented from having more than a certain amount. Like converting the degree of power into a low-medium-high scale. Actually, our Electoral College, with its minimum of three votes per state, is a bit like that.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:48 AM on December 5 [6 favorites]


The solution is not “abolish the protection of smaller states”, but rather, that if one state starts to have 1/10 the population of the US or whatever, that state could be broken in two.

Which requires...the approval of Congress. Which brings us back to square one, because within our lifetimes, the Senate will become another way for an increasingly fascist and violent yet proportionally smaller minority right-wing consolidate power, a fact that they are very aware of. If you think they will willingly give up that power, let me just direct your attention towards DC, where they absolutely refuse to grant them statehood unless Democrats agree to further imbalance either or both chambers.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:48 AM on December 5 [9 favorites]


To change anything about the Senate's constitutional powers -- in particular, advice and consent -- is going to take no less than 67 Senators to say "Sure! Fire me!", then 38 states saying "Yes! We definitely want to give up our major advantage in Congress!"

At some point it would be conceivable that all those small states would need things from the federal government that the House could refuse to give them without concessions on Senate power. I can't imagine the economies and tax bases of those small states would be doing super great in this future where the population has shifted out of those states to such an extent. But that could get very dark and very nasty very fast because the House would have to use the welfare of the citizens of those states as leverage.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:50 AM on December 5


One part of all the social unrest in France right now is that there's a lot of talk about making the system more streamlined, like the US, so they don't have to pay the salaries of so many politicians.

People might think that politician salaries are a big deal (?!?), but the combined costs of the legislative branch (where most of the politicians are) are a drop in the bucket compared to the combined costs of the executive.
posted by Jpfed at 8:54 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


See also the recent attempts to abolish the Senate in Canada, Australia, and the House of Lords in the UK. It seems like anywhere there's a bicameral system, whichever of the two bodies has the upper hand wants to abolish the other one. I say we go further, and grant all power to a directly-elected Imperator; that's the way to really get things done.
posted by sfenders at 8:54 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Man, am I tired of this argument, which essentially argues that baiting and switching is cool as long as we’re on the right side. The states made an 18th century deal to come in together,

As much as we talk about small states vs. large states today, if you read Madison's notes on the convention, there is a tremendous amount of debate about whether Senators should be popularly elected or appointed by state legislatures. The states -- through their representatives at the Convention -- made a deal to preserve state legislative power within the Senate, and then we got rid of that in 1913. Was the 17th amendment a bait-and-switch? No, and neither would any other change to the Senate, because the Constitution was never supposed to be immutable: the Constitution explicitly allows for amendment and change (as a general principle), and was itself a massive change to the articles of confederation.

It's better to understand the Constitution as both a statement of principles and also a pragmatic attempt at crafting a document that everyone at the time could sign on to and that could be ratified -- our question, as citizens, should always be to look beyond the text of the document and ask what's right to do, not merely what the Constitution says to do. Abolishing slavery was a much larger change than tweaking how the Senate worked was in 1913. It was the right thing to do.

There's a whole separate question about how to change the Senate and whether we should change the Senate, but changing how things work to reflect the will of the people is fundamental to the nature of democracy. We're not bound by what Rhode Islanders were worried about in 1789.
posted by cjelli at 8:55 AM on December 5 [36 favorites]


And note that a big goal of modern conservatives is to repeal the 17th Amendment and go back to state legislatures choosing the Senate, because they have a better chance of controlling a districted state legislature than they do of winning a statewide popular vote.

They know perfectly well that this system allows them to wield power out of proportion with their numbers, power they would otherwise not have. They won't surrender it.
posted by Naberius at 8:58 AM on December 5 [7 favorites]


There's a mechanism that wouldn't require a constitutional convention or revolution. Get senators to sign on to something analogous to the National Popular Vote agreement. They'd agree that once they had a super majority of participating senators, they would begin voting as a block to ratify all decisions of the house.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:59 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Related: The US needs a bigger House of Representatives (NYTimes).

The House’s current size was set in 1911. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.

This would shock the Constitution’s framers, who set a baseline of 30,000 constituents per representative and intended for the House to grow along with the population.

posted by entropone at 8:59 AM on December 5 [11 favorites]


If you can get a constitutional amendment through both houses of Congress in the first place, you already have 2/3 of the Senate on board. In that case you don’t really need to reform the Senate.

Also: equal suffrage comes from the New Jersey plan, backed up by Delaware and Connecticut. The slaveowning states either already were big (Virginia) or assumed they would be in the future (Carolinas, Georgia) and so were OK with proportional representation. It was only after things got rolling and more states got added that the Senate wound up as the keystone of the slave power.

Also also: here is a list of states by population. There are just as many small Democratic states as Republican ones, but they’re all up in a corner instead of taking up big swathes of the map. Likewise, California is #1, but Texas and Florida are #2 and #3.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:02 AM on December 5 [7 favorites]


If the House of Representatives kept the 30,000 constituent baseline, it would be a legislature of approximately 10,867 legislators which seems... a bit unwieldy.

But we do need to make the house larger. I'd double it, and add in Congress, for a total of 970 legislators in a single, unitary body.
posted by SansPoint at 9:04 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Seeing what Republicans are doing in Wisconsin and elsewhere to remove the power of incoming Democratic officials, I also wonder about whether another Republican federal government trifecta in the near future would take their last opportunity to take away the power of the House before demographics close the door on them holding it again, to really seal the deal on the Senate's future power.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:05 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Related: The US needs a bigger House of Representatives (NYTimes).

The House’s current size was set in 1911. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.


Yes, I've been advocating updating the Apportionment Act for some time. Increasing the number of representatives would, at least, help address the imbalance between large population states and low population density states; it would also change the Electoral College, giving larger population states more clout in electing the President. All of which would benefit whichever party enjoys the majority of the popular will, which at the moment is the Democratic Party.

It might also incentivize the Republicans to devise a platform that appeals to a majority of citizens, not just "let's transfer the other half of the nation's wealth to the super-rich."
posted by Gelatin at 9:13 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


We have remote companies.... remote federal legislature?
posted by kokaku at 9:15 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


runcibleshaw, France currently looks like that. One part of all the social unrest in France right now is that there's a lot of talk about making the system more streamlined, like the US, so they don't have to pay the salaries of so many politicians.

I know that nobody likes politicians, but that's an incredibly stupid reason not to increase the size of the House. Congress persons make what, $175,000 a year? So that's like... $100 million a year? That's not even a rounding error on the federal budget. If you're worried about populist movements rioting in the streets because politicians are paid too much, you should pay regular folks more.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:15 AM on December 5 [6 favorites]


Yes let’s end the system that allows Rhode Island and Vermont to thwart Texas and Florida, and instead go to a system where the likes of Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan can unilaterally pass whatever they want. That’s way better.

I know you're being sarcastic, but it is way better even if it doesn't seem like it at first glance.

Yes, Paul Ryan did tons of damage to American governance, but he did this in part because there is a massive disconnect between legislative effort and actual result. Most people don't know the process of how a bill becomes a law and zone out when you try to describe the arcane process of "okay first the subcommittees draft bills and then the House and Senate each debate and amend and vote on their own bill and then they get together and try to create a compromise bill and then it goes back and they vote on it again" because it is a stupid and inefficient process, and moreover it is that on purpose because slaveholder states and small states wanted the system to be as arcane as possible to prevent major changes being enacted.

A unicameral legislature simplifies and streamlines the process, and more importantly creates accountability. No more complaining that you really wanted to pass your awesome Kill Medicare Forever bill but the mean ol' Democrats in the Senate wouldn't agree to pass it unless Mitch killed the filibuster! You want to kill Medicare forever, well, congrats, you get the votes and you can do it, and then you get the choice of "don't do it and the money men go away" or "do it and then you will get murdered in the next election and the bill will be revoked first thing by the opposition power you just empowered."

Democratic governance isn't perfect, and one of its imperfections is that people can and do vote for the wrong choices, but the simple truth is: if you don't let them learn the consequences of their vote, then they'll never learn to not fuck up. And that goes for citizens and legislators alike. Voter turnout is pathetic at least partly because voting seems to have no consequence. Fix that.
posted by mightygodking at 9:16 AM on December 5 [10 favorites]


(Sorry, not an attack on you reporting some of the reasons for unrest in France. I just think those reasons are stupid.)
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:17 AM on December 5


...1/10 the population of the US or whatever, that state could be broken in two. There’s no reason, say, Texas and California couldn’t be broken up into three states each.

I think we're better off merging small population states rather than breaking up large population ones.
posted by tclark at 9:18 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Y'all, you don't need to change the number of states to get proportional representation in the House. If you don't want small states to have so much power because of the Senate, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that it's probably easier to remove the Senate or neuter its power than it is to split or merge multiple states.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:21 AM on December 5


Man, am I tired of this argument, which essentially argues that baiting and switching is cool as long as we’re on the right side.

When you complain about baiting and switching and the "right side", realize that you are taking the side of slavery and arguing that it should be enshrined forever because of the an 18th century document.
posted by JackFlash at 9:22 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


I think we're better off merging small population states rather than breaking up large population ones.

Yep. A good example is NYC, which has a larger population--by over a half a million--than the nine least populated states in the country combined. Or put another way, each of the top ten cities in the US by population have a higher population than each of the bottom six states.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:24 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Anyone interested in merging states should try to answer the question: what's in it for them?
posted by Jpfed at 9:46 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


The states made an 18th century deal to come in together, and ensured that small states would always have an equal voice, for the protection of smaller states

It was to protect slavery, and states have no interests independent of the people constituting them.
posted by PMdixon at 9:46 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Why can't we just have the Emperor dissolve the Senate, sweeping the last remnants of the Republic away? The regional governors could have direct control over their territories, and fear would keep the local systems in line.

I mean, along as we're discussing schemes that have equal chances of being enacted in reality...
posted by happyroach at 9:47 AM on December 5 [14 favorites]


Let's start with publicly financed elections. If Congress is still a cesspool after that, we can talk about constitutional amendments like restructuring it.
posted by pashdown at 9:49 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I think we're better off merging small population states rather than breaking up large population ones.

A Jpfed mentions, the problem with that is that the small population states have negative incentive to give up their senators, and would have to be forced to do so, whereas breaking up a state is an idea that could be sold as a benefit. Perhaps large states could break up nominally whereby their borders are redrawn and they get extra senators, but the statelets agree to submit to a common administrative unit so there is effectively no difference in governance.
posted by xigxag at 9:50 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Here's how you do it constitutionally, starting from unified control of government:

Carve 150 new states each with a cherry picked population of exactly 3 out of PR/DC. Now you can pass literally whatever amendment you want without a convention. If your faction is starting to have internal problems, make more states with your supporters occupying them.

It's unclear whether McConnell just hasn't thought of this yet or if there would be internal opposition from legacy Republicans.
posted by PMdixon at 9:52 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


It was to protect slavery, and states have no interests independent of the people constituting them.

So, we should abolish states and just organize ourselves into guilds/clans/houses/groups that allow for mobility/not limited by geography!

If that's the case, then I would like to submit my application to Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong, please.
posted by FJT at 9:54 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


So, we should abolish states and just organize ourselves into guilds/clans/houses/groups that allow for mobility/not limited by geography!


If we can do so without armed conflict, yes, we should. I don't see a path to doing so without armed conflict.
posted by PMdixon at 9:56 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


It was to protect slavery

They made other deals to protect slavery, absolutely - mostly about the apportionment in the House of Representatives, but other ones as well - but the Senate having two members absolutely wasn't for that purpose. Of the four colonies that had radically smaller population than the others and so benefited from this (Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Georgia), only one of them (Georgia) had a significant slave population.
posted by corb at 9:56 AM on December 5 [4 favorites]


...1/10 the population of the US or whatever, that state could be broken in two. There’s no reason, say, Texas and California couldn’t be broken up into three states each.

Let's Mess With Texas. Texas Law Review article arguing the Texas was already granted the authority by Congress to subdivide, which has not been rescinded. Meaning the Texas Legislature could choose to create new "Texas Tots" states.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:58 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I like John Dingell now. I have thought for a long time that the Senate giving excess power to low population state voters is one of the biggest problems in the US.

Unfortunately the Constitution gives those with unfair voting power the means to protect it

One fix could be to base number of senators per state on population -- the difference being that senators still represent the state and congress members their own district.

Rhode Island had a significant slave population at independence by the way
posted by knoyers at 9:59 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Yes let’s end the system that allows Rhode Island and Vermont to thwart Texas and Florida, and instead go to a system where the likes of Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan can unilaterally pass whatever they want. That’s way better.

This might sound radical, but I am all in favor of democracy. That means ending gerrymandered districts and making it easy for everyone to vote, but then, yeah, let the chips fall where they may. If a majority of Americans votes for Republicans, then Republicans get to pass laws. When they fuck over most of the populace in favor of a few rich cronies, they'll lose the next election and Democrats can do better. As things stand, there are way too many veto points and the systems is too complex, so the parties can stand there and blame each other until hell freezes over, leaving your average ill-informed American at the mercy of whoever has the best propagandists and the worst scruples. Give us one house, no filibuster, and there's no more shirking responsibility. Plus, that means when the party you like has power, they can actually get things done.

All the anti-majoritarian measures in the constitution--the senate, the electoral college--are hurting us way more than a level playing field ever could.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:03 AM on December 5 [8 favorites]


“There is a solution, however, that could gain immediate popular support: Abolish the Senate.”

Or just combine them to form a single chamber that votes together on legislation, no other changes needed.


Even better, we could have the President selected by whoever can form a majority coalition within that single chamber, and they would only remain President so long as that coalition can form a majority. That would allow for the rise of viable third parties.

...if only there were a name for this form of government.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:04 AM on December 5 [15 favorites]


TIL that a popular move to amend a government 200+ years after it was literally founded on the concept of being amendable is considered to be a "bait and switch".

Alternately: man, I'm so tired of all the bait and switch, this government was founded on the concept that only rich white men would vote or hold power ...
posted by tocts at 10:06 AM on December 5 [7 favorites]


The US government can barely arrange to fund itself on an ongoing basis, why on Earth would anyone think it would be capable of reforming itself in any meaningful way? The very idea is absurd -- you may as well ask a turtle to fly.

Here, let's all talk about whether turtles fly like birds, or like fighter/bombers.
posted by aramaic at 10:12 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


All the anti-majoritarian measures in the constitution

Isn't the Supreme Court an anti-majoritarian measure too?
posted by FJT at 10:16 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


What does it matter that the original justification for the Senate was to protect the rights of slave-holding states to hold slaves? Slavery has been abolished by the constitution, are we really worried about that being undone if the Senate continues to exist? Does the lone justification of protecting slavery mean there cannot be other more valid justifications?

The question isn't whether creating the Senate was a good idea 200 years ago, that's irrelevant, what matters is if it's a good idea or not to abolish the Senate today. I don't know the answer.

On the brightside, it's not going to happen in my lifetime so the debate is academic anyways.

I think that if we were able to address some of the more immediate problems of voter suppression and 1st-past-the-goalpost voting and things of that nature that by the time it was politically feasible to abolish the Senate we be like, "Nah, this is good enough."

Those are all things that would probably have to be done to make abolishing the Senate feasible anyways so we've got some time to hash this out, I guess.
posted by VTX at 10:18 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


is there One Weird Trick to save a democratic government from the roughly half of its citizens who vote for mendacious cretins on the regular? probably not.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:23 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


leotrotsky: Even better, we could have the President selected by whoever can form a majority coalition within that single chamber, and they would only remain President so long as that coalition can form a majority. That would allow for the rise of viable third parties

Does parliamentarianism really enable third parties better? Like, they happen to prosper in Canada and the UK, but I've never understood how a parliamentary system specifically helps this, because those governments still use simple plurality votes at all levels. As such, I'd assume that any given electoral unit (riding, territory, province) doesn't have viable third parties that persist year after year, and only on the national level do coalitions mean anything.

Hypothetically, here in the USA, a third party could establish majority control in any given region -- e.g a Socialist candidate could win a congressional district in a major city, or a Mormon Party could have formed back when Utah was established and maintained power as one of the two major Utah parties to this day. It so happens that the elephant and the donkey control very solid, powerful structures that work their way down to localities, but nothing about a Presidential system demands this.

By contrast, systems like singer-transferable-vote and mixed-member proportional election really do enable third parties by their very nature.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:25 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Slavery has been abolished by the constitution, are we really worried about that being undone if the Senate continues to exist?

(1) It hasn't actually been abolished, slavery is legal for felons, a loophole that is used quite frequently.
(2) Have you seen the GOP lately? If they could get away with locking up entire populations without actually calling it slavery, they'd be on it in no time. For evidence, see (1).
posted by zombieflanders at 10:30 AM on December 5 [8 favorites]


The US government can barely arrange to fund itself on an ongoing basis

Golly gee whiz I wonder what the cause of that could be? Maybe, maybe - crazy idea, I know, but hear me out - it's because a party that represents a minority of the population, both at the national and at the state level, has disproportionate control and influence in the state and federal governments and has taken it as gospel immutable truth for fifty years that government is intrinsically not worth funding.

That could have something to do with it.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:32 AM on December 5 [25 favorites]


They made other deals to protect slavery ... but the Senate having two members absolutely wasn't for that purpose.

It seems that you are denying that 250 years of obsession with "state rights" had nothing to do with 250 years of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Those states obstructed every move toward equality by filibuster in the Senate, protecting their "peculiar" local traditions. And they are still doing it today.

Conservatives are profoundly distrustful of democracy. The prefer clannish tribalism, segregation and authoritarianism. Plus they have a fetish about the rights of private property owners which plays into their concept that democracy should be based on arbitrary state property boundaries rather than one-person-one-vote.

States, counties and cities have their own local governments to cater to local preferences -- fine. But at the federal level there is simply no logical or fair argument to support an archaic anti-democratic tradition of state representation. Democracy has a Greek root mean "rule by the people." It does not mean "rule by the acre."
posted by JackFlash at 10:33 AM on December 5 [12 favorites]


(2) Have you seen the GOP lately? If they could get away with locking up entire populations without actually calling it slavery, they'd be on it in no time. For evidence, see (1).

Does abolishing the Senate somehow make this outcome less likely? Why does the primary rationalization for the establishment of the Senate have anything to do with the reasons to keep or abolish the Senate today?


Those states obstructed every move toward equality by filibuster in the Senate, protecting their "peculiar" local traditions. And they are still doing it today.

This is an argument against the Senate filibuster not the Senate itself.
posted by VTX at 10:46 AM on December 5


If we're spitballing impossibilities, I've always been fond of one proposal William Simon U'Ren made in 1912. He was a major driver in the movement that lead to the amendment that requires direct election of senators, so he's not a total crank, if perhaps crank-adjacent.

His really radical notion, which he called "interactive" representation, would be for each legislator in the Oregon assembly to cast different amounts of votes, proportionate to the number they'd received in the last election, a number called their "mandate". Each party's gubernatorial candidate also sits in the body with a mandate based on the number of votes cast for losing candidates of the same party. Thus, the total "votes" in the assembly would be equal to the votes cast in the last election, routed through the person you had chosen -- or the next-best thing, a member of the same party.

For purposes of the US Senate I'd modify this a bit. Every ballot is an approval-vote system, with the ability to mark that you are for, against, or neutral about each candidate. You'd do this for all candidates, not just one, so spoilers would be less of a problem. The winning candidate is the one with the highest net approval -- "likes minus dislikes" -- and this would translate directly into their mandate/voting-power for legislation and other things the Senate votes on. (Some adjustment would be made for cases where voters hate all the candidates and the "highest" net score is still negative.)

Ultimately, regardless of who won your state's election, your one vote on that person would nudge all Senate decisions to the same degree as everyone else's -- either in support of your senator's views, or against them. Patrick Leahy could end up with slightly more voting power than Ted Cruz, but it wouldn't be antidemocratic, it would be a one-for-one reflection of their actual numerical support. If Texas wanted more representation, they'd need a more popular representative.

So: the number of senators would remain equal (and they'd have equal speaking time in discussions), but the senators themselves would not be. Is that "equal suffrage"? Of course not. But fun to think about.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:47 AM on December 5 [5 favorites]


That is called weighted voting. You could get a wonderfully representative body if each district seated more than one legislator, with each legislator casting votes weighted by how many votes they themselves had received. Then almost every citizen would have their voice represented by someone from their region. The constitutional barrier to weighted voting in the Senate is much higher than implementing it in the House.
posted by Jpfed at 10:50 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


>Those states obstructed every move toward equality by filibuster in the Senate, protecting their "peculiar" local traditions. And they are still doing it today.

>This is an argument against the Senate filibuster not the Senate itself.


No, it isn't. The filibuster just makes the anti-democratic function of the Senate it easier. Even without the filibuster, as we see in today's Senate, it is dominated by a minority of the population.
posted by JackFlash at 10:56 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


(To be clear, citizens' votes shouldn't be weighted, ever; just legislators'.)
posted by Jpfed at 10:56 AM on December 5 [1 favorite]


is there One Weird Trick to save a democratic government from the roughly half of its citizens who vote for mendacious cretins on the regular? probably not.


Flyby, hot-take aside, it's at most roughly 1/3 of its citizens who vote for mendacious cretins on the regular. More than 2/3 of citizens haven't voted in a presidential election this century.
posted by avalonian at 10:58 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


The states made an 18th century deal to come in together, and ensured that small states would always have an equal voice, for the protection of smaller states. The solution is not “abolish the protection of smaller states”, but rather, that if one state starts to have 1/10 the population of the US or whatever, that state could be broken in two. There’s no reason, say, Texas and California couldn’t be broken up into three states each.

Yeah but dividing Texas into three states doesn't solve the problem, it just puts a tourniquet on it. Wyoming has fewer people in it than 31 cities in the US. Each. Hell the top ten cities in the US each have more people than Wyoming and Vermont combined.

Sometimes that doesn't matter but look at it this way: the city of Austin has more people than the state of Wyoming, and it's not even in the top 10 cities population-wise. And Austin is in a state that cannot get a Democratic senator elected. We came really close this last time, but no dice. Effectively Austin has less representation than Wyoming, which is a fucking travesty.
posted by nushustu at 11:11 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Maybe I missed this in Civics 101, but why is it only a debate between uni- and bi-cam legislatures? Why not tri- or other mult-cameral legislative bodies?
posted by FJT at 11:13 AM on December 5


Golly gee whiz I wonder what the cause of all this could be? Maybe, maybe - crazy idea, I know, but hear me out - it's because a party that represents a minority of the population, both at the national and at the state level, has disproportionate control and influence in the state and federal governments, and obviously we should trust that they'll allow anyone to reform the government in such a way as to minimize their power?
posted by aramaic at 11:18 AM on December 5 [3 favorites]


I highly recommend the recent season of the More Perfect podcast where they go through the amendments to the constitution, it's a nice lens to look at american history through and is a reminder that we have made real changes to our government over time.

Here's my wacky idea: make the senate more proportionally representative than it is now but less so than the house. Like, make it based on the square root or the log of population instead of linear. That way we are still giving the small states extra protection in the senate but not counting wyoming as equal to california.
posted by macrael at 12:13 PM on December 5


For even crazier changes, it seems like recognizing the duality of the urban rural split in some way would be beneficial. What I like most about that map of 50 states with equal population is how many of them end up centered on a city. A return to the city-states of old?
posted by macrael at 12:16 PM on December 5


Here's another thought: my understanding is that part of the reason for the senate wasn't to give small states representation so much as to give agricultural states representation. The idea being that agriculture requires less people spread out over larger swaths of land.

I don't know if that's true or not but it certainly seems sensible: even in the 18th century northern states were smaller but had larger populations in cities than many of the southern, agriculturally-focused states. At the time, that made sense: the US was an agricultural nation. It wasn't until the 19th century that we started to become an industrial one.

Now I would argue that, while the US does have a strong agricultural economy, that is certainly not one of the biggest sectors of our economy.

So if we wanted to be purely capitalist about this, I would argue that states that make less economically for the US deserve less representation. If all of the wealth is created and concentrated in the cities, then why not give those people the same representation?

I know this is evil in some ways, but it fucking grinds my gears that the people and the value are all concentrated in places where we don't have a choice but to get along with each other and learn how to work together and make compromises and just have to be less fearful of the Other because They live right next door to us and hey, They're not really that different after all, and meanwhile Dusty "I'm not racist I'm just a proud white nationalist" and fifteen other people get their own damn senator.
posted by nushustu at 12:35 PM on December 5


What I like most about that map of 50 states with equal population is how many of them end up centered on a city.

The problems with the over representation that states with small populations have has been well covered, but that doesn't mean there still isn't some need to account for rural and other less populated area concerns in any system of representation, something that can go too far the other way if just big population centers had all the power. In states with a big urban hub, the outlying areas can find some difficulties for having to deal with laws made for the urban center as their needs and problems aren't the same.

That doesn't mean that cities with large populations shouldn't have more representation, they should, or to argue that the current system is the right one, just that there is some need to balance concerns beyond those of the main population centers.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:46 PM on December 5


I've mentioned this before several times in discussions of this type, but the actual, practical, achievable, realistic solution to this issue is for the Democractic Party to develop issues and positions and leaders and infrastructure and all the rest to become more competitive in more states and more parts of the country.

There is no reason whatsoever that Democrats can't be more competitive in states like Wyoming and Idaho and Kansas and Missouri and so on. I lived in Utah for about 30 years, and boy howdy would that state benefit from having a more competitive Democratic Party. I live in Missouri where the Democratic Party very much needs some kind of blood infusion and right next to Kansas where it is even more true.

There is no reason the Democratic Party can't be more appealing to rural, suburban, AND big-city voters.

In fact, the Democratic Party would be a better party if it made a point of doing this.

This, at the deepest level, was what the founders were aiming for when they built these 'inequities' into our system by giving smaller states a somewhat greater proportion of the power. They were not aiming for a system where a minority could rule the majority under a steel boot. Rather they were aiming for a system where national politicians and national parties would have to--would be forced to--have positions and platforms that appealed across the broad range of the country, across a broad range of places and people and situations.

Looking at it that way, it's a major positive for a party or politician to be able to do that. Democrats can and should be doing it, regardless of any other changes that can or should be made to our political system.

If you want a name for this, something like a 50-state strategy is one place to start. We don't just give up on entire areas of the country because "only" 30% or 40% or 45% or whatever of voters are in our party. We need those people and their support. There are vast, vast numbers of these people--even in the reddest of states.

One reason the Republican Party is so dysfunctional right now is because they are only all too anxious to completely disregard huge swaths of the country where they aren't able to get 50% of the vote. Democrats need to become the literal polar opposite of that--not rush off to do the same.
posted by flug at 12:50 PM on December 5 [8 favorites]


macrael: For even crazier changes, it seems like recognizing the duality of the urban rural split in some way would be beneficial.

Canada has been wrestling with notions of election reform for a while now (by way of referendums, can-kicking, and such)... and one of the proposals does that, right in the name! Rural–urban proportional representation

Specifically, it's STV for cities and MMP for everyone else, which makes a lot of sense to me. To give an example: I live near a college town, a non-trivial cluster of blue. But it's surrounded by a very large sea of red. To give this town even a single national representative of its own would probably require about six representatives where we now have one (that one being a Republican whose district is currently at least 4/5 Republican in makeup). Increasing the whole House like that might not be a bad idea, but even that wouldn't guarantee things because the town is only mostly blue (it's not a major city).

Under STV, those six representatives could be voted on in a single collective election, and it's a good system for pairing voters with their preferred candidates. But it can still lead to under-representation if your demographic is too small (in this example, if less than one-sixth of you are like-minded). That's where MMP becomes preferable. You get representation in the form of party, which is less granular than having a specific representative, but better than nothing.

Third parties have a better shot because, e.g, if every town in non-urban America has one lonely DSA member, their votes would aggregate nationally to at least a couple representatives. Meanwhile, with the rural-urban distinction, those lucky DSA voters in cities could select which of the DSA candidates they prefer, using STV.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:55 PM on December 5


The problems with the over representation that states with small populations have has been well covered, but that doesn't mean there still isn't some need to account for rural and other less populated area concerns in any system of representation, something that can go too far the other way if just big population centers had all the power.

I find it curious, that of all the ways to divide the country, of all the under-represented minorities, why is it that rural people are singled out for special concern and consideration. Why not the poor? Why not African-Americans? Why not gays? Why not Jews, or the elderly or veterans? Why is it that of all these minorities, it is only the rural minority that deserves over-representation?

The obvious answer that the rural minority is whitey, white white (only 1.4% of farmers are African American) and in many cases come from a tradition of slavery and preserving their "state rights" privileges.
posted by JackFlash at 1:09 PM on December 5 [9 favorites]


So if we wanted to be purely capitalist about this, I would argue that states that make less economically for the US deserve less representation.

Pay to play?

How does that work with something like Foxconn/Scott Walker/Wisconsin?

How does that work when $21 Trillion can't be accounted for at the Pentagon when overlayed with Chalmers Johnson's observation that cutting the military like Ron Paul wanted would have 22-45% unemployment depending on the state's military production/military assets?

So many of the plans to "fix" things at some point need a passed amendment. It's been a couple of generations from the last amendment - so what's the plan to rebuild the political infrasatructure to get amendments to the point of an up/down vote?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:14 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


An old political aphorism states: Any time a politician tells you the answer to your problem is a constitutional amendment, that's a politician with no answer...
posted by jim in austin at 1:21 PM on December 5


[A few comments deleted; don't troll here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:31 PM on December 5


Population density drives so many government-relevant issues that I don't think that separate representation for rural areas vs. urban areas is necessarily bad. Transportation and communication- the building blocks of commerce- work differently where there are many people vs. where there are not, and this has remained true from the birth of the country to the present.

The particular way that this disparity is addressed in government obviously doesn't have to take the form of the Senate we have.
posted by Jpfed at 1:36 PM on December 5


Here are the House of Representatives apportionments of the first Congress. Note that NY, NC, and RI joined late. Vermont was admitted in 1791.
Virginia 10
Massachusetts 8
Pennsylvania 8
Maryland 6
New York 6
Connecticut 5
South Carolina 5
North Carolina 5
New Jersey 4
Georgia 3
New Hampshire 3
Rhode Island 1
Delaware 1

The small states aren’t all the slave states. They’re just...small. They’re mostly still small today. The Connecticut Compromise to get these existing, already-governing entities to switch from the equal-representation Articles to the hybrid Constitution got them on board, keeping them from (unrealistically, and to some mocking at the convention) pursuing some “other power” to cling to.

If we were setting up a new government, sure, we’d have different states and probably not the Senate we have now. But we’re not. The mechanisms provided to modify the Constitution require buy-in from both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the states. And it expressly forbids taking away equal representation in the Senate. Is it fair? It doesn’t matter; it’s the Constitution we have.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:39 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


I don't think this has been mentioned: the Constitution puts a hard restriction on amendments to itself, namely that "no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate." Not even a constitutional convention can change this (unless an entirely new constitution was adopted, a situation better described as a "revolution").

You can make a good case that the Senate is anti-democratic; but also a good case that our current predicament would be far worse without it. I know it's a long time ago, but remember 2017? The House was crazier than the Senate, and it's only thanks to the Senate that a few tens of millions of us still have health care.
posted by zompist at 3:22 PM on December 5


It seems to me that one key difference between supposed conservatives and us is that we should work to change anti-democratic things even if they temporarily benefit us.
posted by Justinian at 4:10 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


I commented in a previous thread that the "equal suffrage" provision is anti-democratic — and that it's made even worse by the 60-vote threshold to break a Senate filibuster.

However, the filibuster can easily be reformed to give large states additional power to shape the Senate agenda, consistent with the Constitutional requirement of equal suffrage. No amendment is needed, just a simple majority of Senators willing to change the Senate rules. The Democrats can do it in 2020 if they win control of the chamber.

By the same token, a measure like this would not be hard to revert, whenever the chamber flips back to the Republicans. Even so, fighting for fairer Senate rules might be the best thing we can plausibly achieve in this arena, given the Constitutional constraints.
posted by ContinuousWave at 5:30 PM on December 5


It seems that "abolish the Senate" might not be do-able without rewriting the Constitution as a whole. I'm not sure it'd be any easier to add an amendment increasing the number of senators by population - so that Wyoming and Alaska would get 3 senators and California would get 55.

But I could definitely get behind a pitch to increase the number of reps: make it so each state has more representatives than senators, starting with 3; big states get a LOT more reps.

"no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

So... California consents not to have "equal" suffrage in the Senate, and opts for proportional suffrage instead? Wait; that leaves Wyoming without "equal" suffrage. Would increasing the number of Senators help at all - making 3 per state, six year terms with one elected every two years?

I don't think "Make large states split into multiples" is the correct fix, but I'd love to see that as an option. I wonder if it'd disrupt the current gridlock enough to have an amendment that allows that any state can split into multiples as long as each of them has at least the population of the current smallest-population state, with the potential for the smallest to split into two if it wants.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:33 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Would increasing the number of Senators help at all - making 3 per state, six year terms with one elected every two years?

I don't see why. Doesn't matter if each state gets 1 Senator or each state gets 100 Senators, the power differential between small rural (old, white) states and big urban states is the same.
posted by Justinian at 6:10 PM on December 5


Yeah, there are lots of great ideas in this thread that all have zero chance of passing because no state is willing to give up their Senators.

The bicameral legislature was a mistake. Thinking they were developing a system that wouldn’t need parties was a mistake.

Personally, I’d like to see a unicameral legislative body comprised of 2/3 directly elected representatives (1 per 250k people) and 1/3 party representatives where voters choose two parties and they get seats assigned based on the percentage of vote received.

Great system, right?

It ain’t gonna happen, so I just fantasize about moving to New Zealand.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:31 PM on December 5


3 senators per state doesn't make things better in terms of the power differential. Instead, it has an unrelated advantage: it smooths out the weird situations that result from only some states electing Senators during a particular election year. Instead of the composition of the Senate depending on how the political winds happen to coincide with the schedule of elections, those political winds influence every state uniformly- making the Senate a sort of moving average of public opinion.

The disadvantage is that it makes the electoral college even worse, so it would have to be coupled with something like a rule specifying how the House should grow as the population grows.
posted by Jpfed at 7:29 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


I'm sure there are other hacks, but by far the easiest solution is just to add states. It's clearly constitutional and only requires a simple majority to pass. And if the current half-dozen existing candidates for statehood isn't enough to balance the Senate, well, Puerto Rico has a population of over 3 million -- there's no constitutional barrier to Puerto Rico subdividing itself into multiple portions first (prior to statehood) and making each of them a state; eg five equal portions would yield five reliably blue states each with a population greater than Wyoming.

Seriously though: we're facing an increasing and demographically inevitable tyranny of the minority, which appears unamendable for all the reasons people have articulated above. Violating norms with goofy (but constitutional) hacks is the least of our problems.
posted by chortly at 8:53 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


> the Constitution puts a hard restriction on amendments to itself, namely that "no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

Couldn't this just be done with two amendments? One repealing Article V and replacing it with the text of Article V without the State's equal suffrage clause, and then a follow-up Amendment that abolishes the Senate altogether?
posted by delicious-luncheon at 9:18 PM on December 5


I'm sure there are other hacks, but by far the easiest solution is just to add states. It's clearly constitutional and only requires a simple majority to pass.

So the next time the red team gets a simple majority, they pay off some governors and state legislatures and you get North, South, East, and West Texases, Wester Virginia, Ultima Dakota, Double Kentucky...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:42 PM on December 5


So the next time the red team gets a simple majority, they pay off some governors and state legislatures and you get North, South, East, and West Texases, Wester Virginia, Ultima Dakota, Double Kentucky...


THEY CAN DO THIS IRRESPECTIVE OF THE ACTIONS OF THE DEMOCRATS

THEIR INCENTIVES TO DO SO ARE GREATER IF THE DEMOCRATS REFUSE TO DO IT, NOT LESS
posted by PMdixon at 9:56 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


So the next time the red team gets a simple majority, they pay off some governors and state legislatures and you get North, South, East, and West Texases, Wester Virginia, Ultima Dakota, Double Kentucky...

There's some debate about whether existing states can constitutionally be split, which is why I was proposing that if needed the entities split themselves before being admitted as states, which has no constitutional issues. An additional advantage is that there are very few unaffiliated polities out there full of rural white men.
posted by chortly at 10:02 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Also, if splitting states is constitutional and we did get into a splitting war, the end result would be something like 10K states of 30K each (because smaller than that runs into ambiguities in Article 1 Section 2), which would be nicely representative and IMHO a distinct improvement on the current situation.
posted by chortly at 10:12 PM on December 5


Has some constitutional impediment come up since the 19th century? West Virginia, Kentucky, and Maine were all split, maybe West Virginia was a little irregular about getting approval from the legislature, but the form was observed...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:19 PM on December 5


You're right -- I guess I was thinking of Congress unilaterally splitting a state on its own, not state legislatures deciding to split with Congress's approval, which while it would require a lot more than just a federal trifecta, certainly isn't unconstitutional. I'm not sure I can imagine a state like Texas voting to dissolve itself into a bunch of substates in revenge for adding 5 Puerto Rican states, but who knows.
posted by chortly at 10:51 PM on December 5


Article 4, Section 3: "New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress."

Yeah, it's easier to add new states than it is to try to change the Constitution; they've done it 37 times. You "just" need Congress to pass a law and any existing states involved to agree. Texas probably still already has the right to divide into 5 states, and everyone at the time expected them to do so, but it's been 173 years and Texas still wants to be big and Texas:

5 Stat. 797: "2 And be it further resolved,That the foregoing consent of Congress is given upon the following conditions, and with the following guarantees, to wit: [...]
"Third. New States, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the federal constitution."
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:58 AM on December 6


Jpfed: 3 senators per state doesn't make things better in terms of the power differential. Instead, it has an unrelated advantage: it smooths out the weird situations that result from only some states electing Senators during a particular election year.

Yes! Plus it's always annoying to try remembering whether your state has a senate election this year. With three per state, the answer would always be "yes". Maybe that's just OCD talking, but this seems like an advantage to me.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:37 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a general war of subdividing states. I could imagine a radical Democratic trifecta declaring that it will approve any state that votes to subdivide, at which point it would be a question of which states could plausibly and legally vote to subdivide in a relatively short timeframe (since we no longer expect any trifecta to last more than 2 years). I expect it would only be solid red or solid blue states, for instance, and only if they can legally pass such a state resolution with simple majorities, and probably only if they could plausibly win a (perhaps nonbinding) public referendum beforehand. I guess the danger save alive nothing that breatheth raises is that there may be more solid-red states willing to subdivide than solid blue, but since game-theoretically we might expect each to subdivide as small as possible (which currently would probably be around the standard 700K district size), even if there are more red states than blue the total number of newly generated states would depend on the relative total populations of solid-blue vs solid-red states.

Again -- this may all sound ridiculous, but it's less unlikely than a constitutional amendment, for which the necessary supermajorities are unlikely to exist for the foreseeable century. It's a lot easier to convince existing Democrats to do something radical than convert millions of Republicans, particularly in the current environment where partisanship may be deepening, but also both parties are progressively radicalizing and apparently increasingly willing to attempt things once deemed unimaginable during the (uncharacteristically) moderate 20th century.
posted by chortly at 11:42 AM on December 6


#PacktheHouse!* :P
posted by kliuless at 7:14 PM on December 6


Why A Fringe Idea About The Supreme Court Is Taking Over The Left - "Political scientist David Faris wrote a book, published this spring, called 'It's Time To Fight Dirty', a kind of highbrow manual for ratfucking one's way to institutional change."
The book is full of strategies Democrats could use to regain power, like making Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico states and expanding membership in the House of Representatives (a topic recently taken up by the editorial board of The New York Times). But one chapter in which Faris outlines a plan to pack the Supreme Court and instate term limits for the justices has gotten perhaps the most attention. Faris credits an organization called Fix The Court for coming up with some of the specifics of the plan he outlines in the book: a constitutional amendment revoking lifetime tenure for the federal judiciary, a law that allows the president to appoint a justice in the first and third year of his term of office and that imposes 18-year term limits on justices, and a restructuring that increases the number of justices on the Supreme Court to 11 or 13, “depending on how many justices President Trump ends up appointing.”
also btw...

To Fix Congress, Make It Bigger. Much Bigger. - "Radically expanding the House of Representatives would help solve some of the biggest problems facing Congress and, by extension, the country."

Increasing the size of the U.S. House to 1,600 members - "Countries with higher constituent-to-member ratios have more economic inequality."

Pack the House: How to Fix the Legislative Branch - "The easiest way to fix the legislative branch is simple: add more representatives to the House. The legal mechanism for doing it already exists: the CAA."
posted by kliuless at 10:45 PM on December 8


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