For John, BLUF: Is the US Senate makeup fair to voters?
Yesterday Law Professor Ann Althouse posted this item on the question of the apportionment of the US Senate (two per state, regardless of state size or population).
"The disproportionate power enjoyed in the Senate by small states is playing a growing role in the political dynamic..."I thought this paragraph from the original New York Times article was of value.
The equal representation of the states in the U.S. Senate is really old news, so what's this about? Large states have grown more than small states in recent years. And large states have become "more urban and liberal," with smaller states "remaining rural and conservative."
Frances E. Lee, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said the problem was as real as the solution elusive, adding that she and other scholars have tried without success to find a contemporary reason to exempt the Senate from the usual rules of granting citizens an equal voice in their government. “I can’t think of any way to justify it based on democratic principles,” Professor Lee said.
Vermont’s 625,000 residents have two United States senators, and so do New York’s 19 million. That means that a Vermonter has 30 times the voting power in the Senate of a New Yorker just over the state line — the biggest inequality between two adjacent states. The nation’s largest gap, between Wyoming and California, is more than double that.I think the value of the US Senate is that it works, by and large. It is what would replace the US Senate that is the question. We don't wish to jump from the frying pan into the fire. Our system works, and it works in a quirky way, because it is a bit inefficient.
In answer to Professor Frances E. Lee, quoted above, I believe the justification is that it works. That is a sort of amateur view of the world, as opposed to the view of professionals, but sometimes the amateurs have a better overall view of what works. One is reminded of the quote attributed to a French philosopher, while he admonished an American colleague:
Well yes, it works in practice, but will it work in theory?The US Senate does work in practice. I hope we don't change it because it doesn't work in theory.
Regards — Cliff