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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/16/21

Can We End the Filibuster and The Senate?

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The road block
The road block
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Part I of II part Series

The now infamous "filibuster" - an archaic reactionary tool used to stymie the will and aspirations of the American people in the Senate, was founded accidentally by a man who had a short while ago murdered Alexander Hamilton in a senseless, hyper-masculine, violent and primitive "duel." Ever since members of the U.S. Senate from both the Republican and Democratic Parties have used this counter-productive "stall tactic" to block any legislation that they feel compelled to jettison. Note that the filibuster is not found anywhere in the Constitution and therefore the reluctance to get rid of it is all about politics and power. This ugly thing is a merely a procedure and not a policy, and is rooted in political obstructionism in a body that, in my view, should long ago been abandoned, and put on the garbage heap of history.

It's is beyond any objective argument that the US Senate is today the most unrepresentative major institutional legislature in the so-called "democratic world." So, thanks to the principle of equal state representation, which grants each state two senators - regardless of population size - the vast majority of people today end up grossly marginalized by this reform-resistant body. The blunt fact is that this is a problem that has only gotten chronically worse over time. Consider the following:

  1. Â The state of California has the same number of Senate votes as Wyoming. However, when it comes to population, California has about 40 million people, meaning that his state is more than sixty-five times larger than Wyoming. By this simple math and metric one Californian has 1.5 percent of the voting clout in Senate elections as a person living just a few hundred miles to the east.

 Today, in 2021, a majority of Americans now live in just nine states. Using the latest US Census data, we determined that just nine states California, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia and Florida account for half of the entire US population. However, based on the present construction of the Senate they - collectively - wind up with just eighteen votes while the minority holds eighty-two, a ratio of better than four to one.

 And back to the infamous filibuster. As evidenced by recent Republican actions in the Senate and the hodpodge of archaic and bizarre filibuster rules, forty-one senators representing less than 11 percent of the United States population can prevent any bill from even coming to a vote. So much for the much-touted American democracy.

 The requirement that any proposed constitutional amendments be approved by at least two-thirds of each house, thirty-four senators from states representing just 5 percent of the population can veto any constitutional change, no matter how minor.

 Finally, the Senate's "hold" system is even more unjust since it allows a single senator representing as little as one citizen in a thousand to stall a bill or executive appointment almost indefinitely.

In fact, the United States Senate is superior to the House of Representatives since ANY legislation passed in the "people's house" MUST go to the Senate for ultimate approval. Of course, there is no political will to do away or reform an institution written into the now-sacred Constitution. With no appetite to look "socialist" Democrats will simply, well, just go along. The upshot is one of the most undemocratic and cockeyed systems of minority rule in the world, allows tiny cabals of old white men, drunk on privilege and entitlement to hold the entire country ransom until their puerile demands are met.

Article 1 of the Constitution also gives the Senate veto power over treaties and executive appointments. So, by this simple fact America's upper chamber is actually more powerful than the lower and at the same time vastly more unequal and undemocratic. Breathtaking public ignorance of the Senate and how it works allows this organization to literally get away with anything.

Here is some Senate math that even the Framers did not fully foresee. Today, equal state representation also turns out to be racially unrepresentative. For example, while Hispanics and other racial minorities comprise about 44 percent of the population in the ten largest states, they collectively account for just 18 percent of the ten smallest states (in which individual voting power happens to be some eighteen times greater). Thus, this situation directly promotes and institutionalizes white racism, especially as a manifestation in the United States Senate.

The astounding thing is that if Republicans proposed stripping workers of 80 percent of their voting rights, the anger, outrage and 24/7 cable Tv coverage would be overwhelming and unceasing. However, since this would all be the result of forces that the nation's founders set in motion more than two centuries ago, there is just a deafening silence. Look at today's recent development; Over 70 percent of the American public supports the Biden Recovery Act and its $1.9 trillion price tag. Yet NOT ONE REPUBLICAN supported it. In the crazy world of senate math no republican senator will be held to account.

So, how do we explain such a galling situation? Well, let's start with a guy named Roger Sherman who proposed the Connecticut Compromise midway through the 1787 Constitutional Convention. This compromise was an effort to calm and reassure fears that small states were about to be swamped by giants like Virginia and New York. Sherman's proposal was to divide legislative responsibility between a lower house that would look after popular interests and an upper house that would attend to those of the states. American bicameralism, a hybrid variation on the British Parliamentary system was shoved into American politics. This compromise also required that the upper house be at least as powerful as the lower to ensure that state interests would be adequately protected, as well as modifications to the amending clause to see to it that the arrangement would be effectively immune to popular pressure. The upshot was the Senate's enhanced power over treaties and appointments set forth in Article I, plus a clause in Article V stipulating "that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." Today, as a result of this a demographic micro-state like Wyoming derives so much benefit from the system that the chances of it ever saying yes to reform approach zero. [Part II next issue].

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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