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Why the U.S. Senate, as Presently Constituted, is a Total Misrepresentation of the American People

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U.S. Senate at work by senate.gov

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The Founding Fathers appear to have made a monumental Constitutional error when they created the U.S. Senate and determined how many senators would represent each state. They agonized and debated over this issue and, though many of them had great reservations, they decided that each state should have two senators. And now the people of America are paying a terrible price for that decision.

Article 1, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution states, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years and each senator shall have one Vote." Further that each state will have two senators, regardless of the size of its population." The 17th Amendment to the Constitution later established direct election of U.S. Senators by popular vote.

Providing for two senators from each state was most certainly a highly controversial and questionable decision on their part; however, they had the best interests of the country in mind in doing so. So let's not blame them because they had no way of knowing how large this country would become and the great degree to which the populations of its states would vary. And it's very likely that they thought that, as the country grew in size, any such imbalance would be rectified by the actions of intelligent, dedicated legislators. How mistaken they were in thinking that this country would involve mostly rational thinking, competent legislators in the future.

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To see just how ludicrous this imbalance of representation in the Senate is take a look at these telling statistics: the combined population of this country's three most populous states, California, Texas and New York is about 84.5 million; these three states have a total of 6 senators. The three least populous states, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming, have a total of 1.9 million people and they also have 6 senators; and the three most populous states, collectively, are 45 times larger than the 3 smallest.

Let's also take a look at this condition from a slightly different view that makes the continued existence of this imbalance almost incomprehensible:

The 25 least populous states = a population of 52 million which = 50 senators

The 25 most populous states = a population of 264 million which = 50 senators

What we have here is a condition in which the 52 million people who live in these smallest states, about 20% of the entire population of this country, possess as much power and an equal representation as the states where 5 times more people live. What kind of system to govern such a huge, complex nation like America is that? Is that one where the majority rules, where the power of the people determines the direction of the country; is this an example of how a democracy functions in the most effective manner? The answers are no, no and no.

So we might conclude that the Americans who live in California, Texas and New York probably pay something on the order of 45 times more taxes than those from the three tiny states and, yet, the representation is identical; that is truly absurd, a complete misrepresentation and living proof that this Senate, as currently constituted, is a perfect example of taxation without adequate representation.

This has now become a tenuous, unworkable situation because, based on the Senate rules that allow the blocking and filibustering of legislation, one or more senators from tiny states can exert equal to or more power than senators from the most populous states; that's just plain ridiculous. It's no wonder why this Senate has now become so very dysfunctional, why it remains in a perpetual state of gridlock. If this legislative body's decisions were based on majority rule many of the problems currently facing this nation would no longer exist.

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Of course, there are those who would say that such a change in the Senate is unwarranted, that everything is fine just as is and, besides, the same Article I of the Constitution provides for fair and equitable representation of the people, based on states' populations, in the U.S. House of Representatives. That's only partly true and while that may be just fine, what does that have to do with the Senate that is a completely separate entity with separate responsibilities?

The fact of the matter is that when important legislation comes before the Senate what should determine whether it is passed or not? Well, most rational thinking individuals would say that such a decision should be based on the views of the majority of the people of America. In this current Senate that is not happening and that may be one of the main reasons why the majority of Americans in poll after poll indicate that this Congress is not working in their best interests.

So if this situation is as bad as it seems then it would follow that there needs to be something done to determine what is more fair and equitable, i.e., how many senators should each state have, based on its population? Well, it should really take a study group to figure out the best configuration but, in the meantime, here are my suggestions for how this should be done. Here's a link which shows the populations of the 50 states of this country in order of the most to the least populous, which can aid in this analysis.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)
 

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