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Thu Mar 31, 2016, 09:37 PM

Is a democracy legitimate if votes don't weigh the same?

Is a democracy morally legitimate if votes don't weigh the same? By weight I simply mean how votes get translated into representation. For example, imagine one group of 1000 citizen vote and get one seat in a legislature yet another group of 1000 votes and gets 3 seats. Would any laws passed by those 3 legislators be morally legitimate?

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Reply Is a democracy legitimate if votes don't weigh the same? (Original post)
eniwetok Mar 2016 OP
dogman Mar 2016 #1
eniwetok Mar 2016 #5
dogman Mar 2016 #8
eniwetok Mar 2016 #12
dogman Mar 2016 #13
eniwetok Mar 2016 #14
dogman Mar 2016 #15
eniwetok Mar 2016 #16
eniwetok Apr 2016 #17
WhaTHellsgoingonhere Apr 2016 #34
eniwetok Apr 2016 #38
WhaTHellsgoingonhere Apr 2016 #41
eniwetok Apr 2016 #43
WhaTHellsgoingonhere Apr 2016 #44
Bettie Apr 2016 #60
eniwetok Apr 2016 #48
Rebkeh Mar 2016 #2
eniwetok Mar 2016 #6
Nye Bevan Mar 2016 #3
eniwetok Mar 2016 #7
potone Mar 2016 #10
Eko Mar 2016 #4
eniwetok Apr 2016 #22
Eko Apr 2016 #26
potone Mar 2016 #9
eniwetok Mar 2016 #11
X_Digger Apr 2016 #54
tymorial Apr 2016 #59
eniwetok Apr 2016 #63
1939 Apr 2016 #19
eniwetok Apr 2016 #21
2naSalit Apr 2016 #28
eniwetok Apr 2016 #31
2naSalit Apr 2016 #33
eniwetok Apr 2016 #37
2naSalit Apr 2016 #39
eniwetok Apr 2016 #46
2naSalit Apr 2016 #49
eniwetok Apr 2016 #50
X_Digger Apr 2016 #55
eniwetok Apr 2016 #64
1939 Apr 2016 #72
eniwetok Apr 2016 #47
B Calm Apr 2016 #18
eniwetok Apr 2016 #20
Act_of_Reparation Apr 2016 #23
La Lioness Priyanka Apr 2016 #24
Iggo Apr 2016 #25
L. Coyote Apr 2016 #27
eniwetok Apr 2016 #35
Rex Apr 2016 #29
eniwetok Apr 2016 #30
eniwetok Apr 2016 #40
Democat Apr 2016 #32
eniwetok Apr 2016 #36
Donald Ian Rankin Apr 2016 #42
eniwetok Apr 2016 #45
RKP5637 Apr 2016 #51
eniwetok Apr 2016 #53
RKP5637 Apr 2016 #70
tymorial Apr 2016 #52
eniwetok Apr 2016 #56
tymorial Apr 2016 #58
eniwetok Apr 2016 #61
Warren DeMontague Apr 2016 #57
eniwetok Apr 2016 #62
Warren DeMontague Apr 2016 #65
eniwetok Apr 2016 #66
Warren DeMontague Apr 2016 #67
eniwetok Apr 2016 #68
Warren DeMontague Apr 2016 #69
eniwetok Apr 2016 #71

Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 09:39 PM

1. Are you looking to do away with the Senate?

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Response to dogman (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:19 PM

5. are you suggesting the senate is morally illegitimate?


As I recall, many of the Framers were not enthralled with the idea of the Senate.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #5)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:29 PM

8. They are not proportional to population.

Two per state gives little states equal power to large states. The House is not directly proportional either. According to wikipedia: "A distinct set of definitions for the word republic evolved in the United States. In common parlance, a republic is a state that does not practice direct democracy but rather has a government indirectly controlled by the people."

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Response to dogman (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 11:02 PM

12. so antidemocratic government is about morality?


If the moral way to protect "state interests" is to give "states"... actually the people who choose to live there, a bigger vote... why do those verifiably oppressed not deserve the same power? Racial minorities, women and LGBT come to mind. Why must they settle for Brand X legal protections which we know the GOP is always targeting.

But if you want to make the "state interests" argument shouldn't the power of these "states" be limited to protecting just their legitimate interests? Why should it expand to cover ALL aspects of government?

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #12)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 11:07 PM

13. I guess your question would be to the founders.

This is the system they have given us. You have to remember they are the ones who assigned 3/5 of a person count to slaves. Women were not given the vote either. It was a carryover from England and was based on land and property ownership.

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Response to dogman (Reply #13)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 11:14 PM

14. given us?

What kind of government would the Framers given us if the US were only one English colony?

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #14)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 11:18 PM

15. We would probably still be a colony.

Look how long it took the British Empire to break up.

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Response to dogman (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 11:59 PM

16. missing the point

If the "US"... had been one colony instead of 13 when it successfully pushed out the Brits... we'd not be a federal government where state interests would dictate state suffrage. The only basis for a government would have been based on the People. That wouldn't mean there weren't regional or special interests. But it might mean the Framers would have found other ways to protect legitimate minority interests.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #12)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 09:20 AM

17. limiting the power of the minority


But if you want to make the "state interests" argument shouldn't the power of these "states" be limited to protecting just their legitimate interests? Why should it expand to cover ALL aspects of government?


If there's no way to limit the power to limit the power of a minority to just protecting their legitimate interests... we end up with the situation we have today... where states with just 18% of the US population get 52% of the seats in the Senate... and even 2/3 of the Senate can represent a mere 30% of the US population. This means Senators who represent just 18% of the population can, depending how the states line up, pass omnibus budgets and approve judicial nominations. In fact Clarance Thomas was approved by Senator representing less than 50% of the US population... and then goes on to be the deciding vote in Bush v Gore.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:13 PM

34. Is the Senate constitutional?

 

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Response to WhaTHellsgoingonhere (Reply #34)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:36 PM

38. of course it's "constitutional"

But is it morally legitimate from a democratic perspective? No more than an amendment process that allows states with a mere 40% of the US population to ratify an amendment and states with less than 4% to block any amendment. Or the EC which can impose someone rejected by the People on the nation.

Our system was designed giving elites a veto over the People. It was hoped that these enlightened elites would guide the nation wisely should the rabble choose poorly. It seems the Framers never considered the possibility that these elites would not represent high philosophical values but instead corporate interests.

Bernie... and I love the guy, never seems to make the connection that much he complains about isn't just the doing of the 1%... but the fact that the structure of our government makes it easy to be hijacked by the 1%.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #38)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 01:37 PM

41. Not so sure 'bout that.

 

Years ago I divvied up the electoral college proportionately. Pretty cool.

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Response to WhaTHellsgoingonhere (Reply #41)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 02:35 PM

43. the problem with ANY reformulation of the EC

If all the EC does is confirm the popular vote... then it's not needed. If all it can do is override the popular vote then it's antidemocratic and must be abolished.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #43)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 02:50 PM

44. I'm with you. The Senate is an abomination. Does America look like Chicago, represented by 2

 

Senators for 3 million racially diverse people, or all of that white wasteland inhabited by 3 million but represented by 10? 20? Senators. Tell me which population is more representative of America and its population's needs.

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Response to WhaTHellsgoingonhere (Reply #44)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 08:31 AM

60. So, less populous states are now

"a wasteland"?

Nice.

Maybe we should just go to a system where large urban areas are the only places allowed to vote and leave those dirty wastelands out of it....or as they are more commonly called "the flyover states".

Then, we can have the country ruled by the more deserving urban dwellers, right? Because they are the only ones who truly matter.

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Response to dogman (Reply #1)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:49 AM

48. Keep the Senate... but base it on national proportional representation

I like the idea of checks and balances... but the question is who are the parties doing the "checking"?

People have numerous aspects to their identities but the current representational structure is all state and district based. As such the electoral system is incapable of measuring the will of voters who may make up sizable minorities across the nation but can't win any elections withing a state or district.

I'd like to see the Senate become a national body based on national proportional representation while the House remain to provide regional representation. This would finally get some new perspectives into the halls of power.

This still leaves the House elections based on single districts which means that up to 49.9% of the votes amount to nothing in terms of representation. Some have suggested moving to multi-district elections.

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:06 PM

2. Votes in swing states weigh more than non swing states too

Blue votes in red states & red votes in blue also weigh less.

We need to upgrade the system for many reasons.

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Response to Rebkeh (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:22 PM

6. isn't it odd...

Isn't it odd... that no where is there any discussion about something so basic as what democratic principles are?

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:15 PM

3. In 2012, 66 million voted for Obama and 61 million for Romney.

So the votes of 66 million were translated into 1 president and the votes of 61 million into zero presidents. Morally legitimate?

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:27 PM

7. that's the problem with...

That's the problem when there's only one position open in an election... up to 49.9% of the votes don't count. More if it's a three way election. Instant Runoff voting can insure no one rejected by the majority can "win" an election. But it doesn't solve the inherent problem with a single position up for a vote in an election.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:37 PM

10. There is no solution to that, because there is no other way a government could work.

A parliamentary system, which is more representative than ours, still has to have a chief executive. The idea that you could govern a country by a committee of elected representatives is simply impractical, and wouldn't solve the problem anyway. The problem I see is that with our current system, someone can win the presidency by winning a majority of the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:18 PM

4. Its called a

Democratic republic.

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Response to Eko (Reply #4)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 10:39 AM

22. as opposed to...

an antidemocratic republic?

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #22)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 11:52 AM

26. a democracy.

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:30 PM

9. It depends on what you are talking about.

The Senate is an undemocratic institution in the sense of proportional representation, but it serves a legitimate purpose, in my view: it prevents the interests of smaller states from being trampled by those of larger states. That is not to say that there aren't rules in the Senate that aren't grossly unfair, such as the ability of one senator to block hearings on a judicial nominee. But where it becomes undemocratic, in my view, is in the Electoral College. That truly is undemocratic, since states with smaller populations get proportionally more electoral votes. This problem could be solved if we got rid of the Electoral College and had a direct vote for the president. That will be hard to achieve, since it would require a constitutional amendment, but there are some proposed alternatives that would get around the problem.

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Response to potone (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 31, 2016, 10:48 PM

11. no other interests...

I have no idea what "state interests" are since states don't vote... the people who live in a state do.

If the moral argument is that state interests deserve a voice or veto over, say, the House... why shouldn't other interests... say those of racial minorities or women, also get this bigger vote? After all, there's historically verifiable oppression there. The small population states seem to be doing fine... at least by the measure of per capital federal spending. Is this principle SO important that we can let the 12 smallest states making up a mere 4% of the US population block any amendment?

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:01 PM

54. We are the 'United States', not 'America'.

If you want to do away with states as a principle of government, then by all means, petition to go to a direct democracy.

Good luck with that.

Let me guess, pol sci major.. sophomore?

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #54)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 07:59 AM

59. lol

now THAT was funny.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #54)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:15 AM

63. RED HERRING ALERT!!

Who ever said anything about doing away with the states? I'm talking ONLY about abolishing state suffrage in the federal government. And who ever said anything about "direct democracy"?

The bottom line is either you value democratic concepts or you don't. But I've typically found that most who think they do, haven't even bothered to define what they mean.

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Response to potone (Reply #9)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 09:28 AM

19. If you look into the deliberations forming the Constitution

It was expected that the Electoral College would be primarily a nominating process and that the House of Representatives would actually choose the president in a process where Wyoming's vote carried equal weight with California's vote. As it turned out, the two party system which evolved meant that the Electoral College would produce a majority winner and the House merely had to ratify the EC vote.

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Response to 1939 (Reply #19)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 10:37 AM

21. Much was debated

We can't go by what what debated in the so-called Constitutional Convention... only what was approved and sent to the states. But just a quick note on WY vs CA. The vote of any citizen in WY for president weighs 3.5x that of any citizen in CA. And because of the EC the vote of any citizen in Bush's FL lead weighed 1000x that of any citizen's vote in Gore's national lead in deciding the outcome.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #21)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 12:13 PM

28. I disagree on this point...

We can't go by what what debated in the so-called Constitutional Convention... only what was approved and sent to the states.


Actually, we do that quite often and most particularly within federal courts because these are predominantly Constitutional arguments. Interpretation is what has to take place regularly, if that were not the case, unjust laws or laws whose implementation produced undesired effects would never be re-examined or rescinded/overturned... ever. Interpretation includes understanding the origin of a thing... the Constitution was and is still in the process of being written and it is argued about on a daily basis throughout the nation because it is not stone tablets hewn on the mountain. That, in itself, was the intent of the founders for us to continue the conversation as we evolve as a nation. Without going by what was argued in the past, we have little in reference as to what we are to do in keeping our democracy functioning.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #28)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:00 PM

31. and the federalist papers...


With the exception of the textualists, the Federalist Papers may provide some insight... but not for those proposals that Congress didn't approve. For example Hamilton proposed a Select Corp instead of a general militia. Congress did not go along in the Militia Acts of 1792.

Much was debated and rejected in the Constitutional Convention. If ideas that were rejected, then they can't provide much insight into what was approved... except as a negative.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #31)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:11 PM

33. I look at it in a different light I guess

I see having the whole argument, all sides, in retrospect providing a glimpse into what the general thinking of the time was and how the process of reasoning out what was approved in the end took place. These snippets of info are essential to guiding our policies and processes now and into the future.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #33)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:29 PM

37. no progress the past 225 years?

I don't feel constrained to look to the Framers for "guiding our policies and processes now and into the future".

The concept and implementation of democracy has progressed since then... at least in most of the other advanced democracies.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #37)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:39 PM

39. Hmmm

swing and a miss.

Not the point I was making. Information from the past is important and informs us of what the parameters of our Constitution define, otherwise we would be re-configuring the entire structure of our government and society with every election... if elections weren't abolished early on.

What was that cliche about those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it... or something to that effect?

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #39)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:34 AM

46. In our system apathy is not an unreasonablel response.

But I think the bigger issue here is that those who wear blinders and look only at OUR past miss the greater context that much of the world has moved on from our primitive form of elections and representation. And at some point we have to be honest about the failures of our system. But again, even for liberal Dems that tends to fall into the realm of impermissible thought. There are reasons why in the US we have such abysmal voting turnout... about 35% of the Voting Age Population (VAP) in off year elections and 50-55% in presidential years... when other nations are routinely in the high 70s and 80s%. I propose that we're largely stuck between our need to uphold the civic religion that we have the best political system, and our real world disappointment about self-government. As a progressive I can vote forever and never get representation for what I believe... and I live in Mass. Our plurality electoral system requires up to 49.9% of the votes count for nothing. Someone can become president after being REJECTED by the People. In the Senate 18% of the US population gets 52% of the seats. In the House districts can be gerrymandered so politicians are picking their voters and a party can win up to 70% of the seats with 51% of the vote. Amendments can be blocked by states with as little as 4% of the population.

In our political system apathy is not an unreasonable response.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #46)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:13 AM

49. ---unreasonable---

Do you mean that as a sarcastic description or as what you suspect the GP's attitude is leaning toward or that you find it acceptable and agree with it as well?

Curious.

So I agree with your stats and have made academic observations of the same... not to mention I grew up and received my primary education in New England which is drenched in academia... and I am a political scientist on top of all that. Yes, the Europeans and others are doing a better job of governing in some fashion but they are having some major problems too. Here, lookit...

http://www.france24.com/en/

There are flaws in every thing in our existence, and so it is with our Constitution and other legislation. This penchant for the perfection of anything is something that defies logic for me but it seems to be a component of the ugly tone running rampant of late. The framers, from reading what they had to say way back when they set up the system, knew that evolution was inevitable thus they provided instruction for those transitions, it's up to present day citizens to figure out how to apply the tenets of the system to resolve problems (with technology and societal change for example).

Our system will never be perfect but it can be more representative of the citizen population and actually address their concerns and act on them in specific and general terms. That's what it's all about but that point is lost on those who only have a thirst for controlling everyone else. I don't know where that comes from but it has been an element of humankind since conception. Those are the humans we need to remove from power, that should be the point. I am concerned that I see too much infighting and viscous attack within our party and I think that part of it is incited by trolls.

Keep studying the Constitution, no one person can "get" all of it because it is more like a tree which has a cyclical life... as do all living things on this planet.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #49)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:11 PM

50. I meant unreasonable...

As for your comment

The framers, from reading what they had to say way back when they set up the system, knew that evolution was inevitable thus they provided instruction for those transitions, it's up to present day citizens to figure out how to apply the tenets of the system to resolve problems (with technology and societal change for example).

I don't think you get it that the Constitution is a straightjacket. It simply can not adapt in any substantive way... because the formula for amending the Constitution is ridiculous... to the point it's virtually reformproof.... and demographic trends are making it more so. Yet, this issue goes unnoticed.

While there are some ideas in the Constitution I can appreciate, such as friction caused by checks and balances, I generally think it's construction is a mess... with key assumptions never clearly stated... such as that on powers and rights. Yes, there's the Ninth but it lacks the clarity of the Rights Of Man. And without an original clear statement on powers reserved vs what's not prohibited, there's been plenty of room for games such as Scalia played.

So, no, I'm not expecting the tenets of a fundamentally flawed system to be able to guide us. So aside from the antidemocratic nature of the Constitution it's created a political spectrum that is virtually braindead... locking out other needed perspectives from the halls of power.

What I DO expect is that Americans... left and right will keep making excuses for these defects. Constitution worship is, after all, our civic religion.



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Response to eniwetok (Reply #50)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:08 PM

55. If the constitution were 'reformproof' we wouldn't be up to #28 for the next one.



While there are some ideas in the Constitution I can appreciate, such as friction caused by checks and balances, I generally think it's construction is a mess... with key assumptions never clearly stated... such as that on powers and rights. Yes, there's the Ninth but it lacks the clarity of the Rights Of Man. And without an original clear statement on powers reserved vs what's not prohibited, there's been plenty of room for games such as Scalia played.


The assumptions are pretty boldly stated. I can recommend a few books on the subject, or some enlightenment philosophy books, if you're actually interested, and not just looking for justification for your position by claiming that the source is muddy.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #55)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:19 AM

64. here's the amendment breakdown...

Whenever I bring up the antidemocratic and virtual reform-proof nature of the Constitution someone will invariably protest that we already have 27 Amendments... and this somehow "proves" the Constitution CAN be reformed. With 27 amendments over 225 years that's about one every 8 years. Sounds like there's plenty of flexibility. Maybe they have a point... or not. To which I counter NONE of these amendments reforms any of the core antidemocratic defects of the Constitution. Our system is so antidemocratic that it might never truly be reformed.

Here's a breakdown of amendments by category... feel free to break them down in other ways:

INDIVIDUAL & STATES RIGHTS: 1-10 plus 13th, 14th

FINE TUNING THE CONSTITUTION: 11th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 22ed, 25th, 27th

PROHIBITION & REPEAL: 18th, 21st

EXPANDING VOTING RIGHTS: 15th, 19th, 24th, 26th

MAKING THE CONSTITUTION MORE DEMOCRATIC: 17th, 23ed

The first ten amendments, aka The Bill Of Rights, were demanded by the states as the price of ratification. So that leaves 17 amendments over 223 years or one amendment every 13 years.

If we take away the 7 that I've put into the "FINE TUNING" category that leaves 10 amendments over 223 years or one, on average, every 22.3 years. These amendments cover things like presidential terms etc.

Take away Prohibition and its repeal... that leaves 8 amendments over 223 years giving us one amendment averaging about every 28 years.

That leaves 6 amendments that in some way make the Constitution more democratic... that gives us one amendment every 36 years. These amendments fall into two categories.

The first category is expanding the vote to groups who arguably should NEVER have been denied it: slaves (15th), women (19th), those who can't afford a poll tax (24th) and 18 year olds (26th).

The second category deals with some aspect of the antidemocratic structure of the Constitution itself. Here we have but TWO amendments... giving us ONE reform amendment, on average, every 111 years. Those reforms were allowing direct vote for the Senate... and giving EC votes to those in Washington DC. Given how antidemocratic the Constitution is, those reforms are minor tweaks.

The sad reality is NONE of those 27 amendments to date have reformed ANY of the core antidemocratic features of the Constitution all of which are connected with the antidemocratic concept of state suffrage... the EC, the Senate, the exclusive powers of the Senate to ratify judicial nominees or treaties, the amendment process, etc.

That's ZERO serious reform amendments in 225 years!


Which brings us back to my original point... is our system so antidemocratic that it can never truly be reformed? And if so... what are we who value democracy to do as demographic trends make the Constitution even more antidemocratic and more reform-proof?

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #64)

Tue Apr 5, 2016, 09:39 AM

72. I would submit

that the Senate with equal votes by state was a part of the "bargain" that induced the smaller states to join and become a part of the United States. Their worry was that the larger states interests would dominate in the House and that having a state-by-state Senate, they would be able to resist this domination.

Now you want to change the rules of this "partnership".

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #37)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:41 AM

47. no key reforms in 225 years

The Constitution has been amended 27 times and NONE of those 27 amendments to date have reformed ANY of the core antidemocratic features of the Constitution all of which are connected with the antidemocratic concept of state suffrage... the EC, the Senate, the exclusive powers of the Senate to ratify judicial nominees or treaties, the amendment process, etc.

That's ZERO serious reform amendments in 225 years! Here's my breakdown

INDIVIDUAL & STATES RIGHTS: 1-10 plus 13th, 14th

FINE TUNING THE CONSTITUTION: 11th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 22ed, 25th, 27th

PROHIBITION & REPEAL: 18th, 21st

EXPANDING VOTING RIGHTS: 15th, 19th, 24th, 26th

MAKING THE CONSTITUTION MORE DEMOCRATIC: 17th, 23ed but neither of these amendments do anything to reform antidemocratic representation or the possibility of minority rule.

The bigger danger we tend to be blind to is demographic changes between the largest and smallest population states is making the Constitution increasingly antidemocratic and reformproof. Where in the 1790s the largest population differential was something like 15:1... maybe 20:1, it's now 70:1.


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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 09:27 AM

18. I remember Al Gore having more votes than Bush. Should the Electoral College be done away

 

with?

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Response to B Calm (Reply #18)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 10:32 AM

20. the EC is an antidemocratic abomination

The EC is an antidemocratic abomination and of course it should be abolished. It harkens back to the fact that the Framers distrusted the People and built into the system the ability of elites to veto the People at every turn. The problem here is that who said the elites can be trusted not to rig the system in their own favor? What other democratic nation would put up with having a candidate REJECTED by the People imposed on the nation by such a vote weighting/dilution scheme. Sadly, the amendment process is also antidemocratic and states with a mere 4% of the US population can block ANY reforms. I certainly don't believe amendments should be easy to pass, but the process should be based on a super majority of the People... not the states... because depending how the states line up states with as little as 40% of the US population can PASS any amendment. Again, this defect in our system is something that's never debated. It's an ideological blindspot of Dems... the very party we'd expect democratic reforms to arise from.

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 10:48 AM

23. Let's ask Socrates.

Is direct democracy "morally legitimate"?

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 10:59 AM

24. it's called the senate. nt

 

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 11:02 AM

25. So is this one of those threads where we answer questions with questions?

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 11:58 AM

27. One group of 1,000 voters gets counted as 1,000 votes, another group of 1,000 counts as 900 ....

when you have voter suppression, voter caging, dropped registrations, and all the ratfucking Republican cheating going on.

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Response to L. Coyote (Reply #27)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:16 PM

35. voter suppression is different from...

Voter suppression is a different issue. So what if there was 100% voter participation and 100% vote count accuracy... should the first 1000 citizens get 60% of the seats in a legislature while the second 1000 only gets 40%? This is what happens in the US Senate, only 18% of the population gets 52% of the seats... and the Senate has special powers the House can't veto.

We're brought up to believe this all works out because of the House. But that's only if we think in terms of how states are represented. If we look at how any given citizen is represented... we see it doesn't work out at all. So any citizen in WY has 70x greater influence in the Senate than any citizen in CA. But any citizen in CA does NOT vote for their entire state delegation in the House. So any citizen in CA really gets shafted in the representation department. Such vote weighting/dilution scheme were ruled illegal within states by the Supreme Court in Reynolds v Sims. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=377&invol=533 It best makes the moral case for civic equality in the vote.

Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests. As long as ours is a representative form of government, and our legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly representative of the people, the right to elect legislators in a free and unimpaired fashion is a bedrock of our political system. It could hardly be gainsaid that a constitutional claim had been asserted by an allegation that certain otherwise qualified voters had been entirely prohibited from voting for members of their state legislature. And, if a State should provide that the votes of citizens in one part of the State should be given two times, or five times, or 10 times the weight of votes of citizens in another part of the State, it could hardly be contended that the right to vote of those residing in the disfavored areas had not been effectively diluted. It would appear extraordinary to suggest that a State could be constitutionally permitted to enact a law providing that certain of the State's voters could vote two, five, or 10 times for their legislative representatives, while voters living elsewhere could vote only once. And it is inconceivable that a state law to the effect that, in counting votes for legislators, the votes of citizens in one part of the State would be multiplied by two, five, or 10, while the votes of persons in another area would be counted only at face value, could be constitutionally sustainable. Of course, the effect of [377 U.S. 533, 563] state legislative districting schemes which give the same number of representatives to unequal numbers of constituents is identical. 40 Overweighting and overvaluation of the votes of those living here has the certain effect of dilution and undervaluation of the votes of those living there. The resulting discrimination against those individual voters living in disfavored areas is easily demonstrable mathematically. Their right to vote is simply not the same right to vote as that of those living in a favored part of the State. Two, five, or 10 of them must vote before the effect of their voting is equivalent to that of their favored neighbor. Weighting the votes of citizens differently, by any method or means, merely because of where they happen to reside, hardly seems justifiable.


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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Fri Apr 1, 2016, 12:16 PM

29. Learn a little about basic government and get back with us.

 

Concern trolling is not your strong suit. Try another persona.

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Response to Rex (Reply #29)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 11:55 AM

30. really?

So asking a simple question about the moral legitimacy of government is "trolling"?

I can see why DU has an ignore feature. No doubt it will prove to be invaluable.

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Response to Rex (Reply #29)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:40 PM

40. how many other nations have our system?

How many other nations have our system vs how many have rejected our system?

How's THAT for basics?

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:02 PM

32. Republicans would be the Green Party if it was one person one vote

The only reason that Republicans hold any power nationally is because Democratic votes are worth far less than Republican ones.

Look at the number of votes in the Senate. Republicans have the majority even though Democrats have millions of more votes.

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Response to Democat (Reply #32)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 12:25 PM

36. some numbers: votes vs senate seats

The columns are from left to right… Party, vote percentage for that one election, seats each party had, votes for that one election, and last… the CUMULATIVE votes each party received over the past 3 elections thereby covering all the current members of the Senate. Arrows indicate a clearly anti-democratic result...


2000:
DEM 47.73% 50 seats 38,164,089 - 88,423,439 <--
GOP 48.39% 50 seats 37,645,909 - 87,203,917


2002:
DEM 44.69% 48 seats 18,665,605 - 83,598,393 <--
GOP 51.31% 51 seats 21,428,784 - 84,421,306

2004:
DEM 50.8% 44 seats 44,754,618 - 101,584,312 <--
GOP 45.3% 55 seats 39,920,562 - 98,995,255

2006:
DEM 53.91% 49 seats 33,929,202 - 97,349,425 <--
GOP 42.38% 49 seats 26,674,169 - 88,023,515

2008:
DEM 51.86% 57 seats 34,276,327 - 112,960,147
GOP 45% 41 seats 29,729,539 - 96,324,270

2010
DEM 45.1% 51% seats 33,883,538 - 102,089,067 <--
GOP 49.32% 47% seats 37,057,491 - 93,461,199

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 01:47 PM

42. It loses some legitimacy, but not all of it. N.T.

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Response to Donald Ian Rankin (Reply #42)

Sat Apr 2, 2016, 10:29 PM

45. what remains morally legitimate?

For example was the EC installing Bush as president after he was rejected by the People mean his was a morally illegitimate junta?

I'd say yes. But then our entire federal system is full of such antidemocratic mechanisms. We were brought up to believe the checks and balances make it fair... but that's based on wearing blinders... that we look at how states are represented... not any given person. Once we look at how any given person is represented... it all falls apart.

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:31 PM

51. The US is a rigged manipulated democracy and the highest bidder wins. And some of it is obsolete,

better suited for a nation back a century or so. But imagine the cat fight to ever change it, it would likely fall apart. So, we have this patchwork called a democracy trying to serve an ever expanding population with unequal representation. Ones vote counts, well, maybe. I think it sucks!


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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #51)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:58 PM

53. yup... a cat fight

And yet if we don't reform our system...

I think the "left" has been blind to how our antidemocratic system has contributed to many of the problems we care most about... from the destruction of unions, to massive debt, to growing corporate power over government itself.

Our system has class warfare built into it. During the secret debates over the drafting of the Constitution Madison said the following...

MADISON: The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa, or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge of the wants or feelings of the day laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe; when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability. Various have been the propositions; but my opinion is, the longer they continue in office, the better will these views be answered.

source: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/const/yates.htm

Madison clearly anticipated class warfare and his solution was not to give both the wealthy and the commoners equal power in the Constitution, but to give the wealthy a veto over the commoners in the Senate. But the entire Constitution incorporates this principle.... including the Electoral College and the amendment process.

But the powers of the Senate go further than just providing elites a veto over legislation. The Senate has exclusive powers in the areas of treaties and nominations... as well as the final world on removing a president from office.

We can debate whether the Senate remains the bastion of the wealthy, or was ever the body of the wise elders. Dangerous demagogues like Ted Cruz certainly undermine that notion. But Madison's institutional power arrangement survives regardless who is in the House or Senate. Now it's really a minority of states with 18% of the US population which has that veto over the House, and exclusive powers over treaties and nominations.

Why are such issues never discussed? Why, despite its failings, do these structural defects in the Constitution escape scrutiny?

In Federalist 49 Madison argues against making the Constitution easier to reform because that might focus the People on its defects. He believes that the masses must VENERATE their government to insure stability:

In the next place, it may be considered as an objection inherent in the principle, that as every appeal to the people would carry an implication of some defect in the government, frequent appeals would, in a great measure, deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability.

Madison's hope obviously prevailed in this regard. The Constitution is virtually reformproof. NONE of the core antidemocratic features of the document has ever been reformed. Sadly, even liberals in this nation have opted for unquestioning veneration. Our antidemocratic and reformproof system have become principles unto themselves and liberals who should know better merely accept and work within that framework.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #53)

Tue Apr 5, 2016, 08:41 AM

70. Thank you for your astute reply! n/t

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 10:47 PM

52. If we didn't have a bicameral legislature then yes

However, we do. I do not understand your post.

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Response to tymorial (Reply #52)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:29 PM

56. so bicameral means it MUST be antidemocratic?

Was this rule legislatures must be antidemocratic handed down from on-high on a slab?

A nation is free to create a bicameral legislative system on any basis they want. I'd prefer that the House remain to represent local/regional concerns. But citizens have numerous aspects beside regional concerns. I'd like to see the Senate be turned into a national body based on proportional representation so that if Greens get 10% of the national vote, they'd get 10% of the seats. Under the current system it's almost impossible to get new political perspectives into the halls of power...

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #56)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 07:56 AM

58. Your concept is preposterous

You suggest doing away with the senate and leaving the house intact which would effectively silence all concerns for people from smaller states. Instead turn the senate into a mishmash of political beliefs. What exactly would that accomplish? We have two parties that cannot agree much of the time. Anyway, none of this matters. What you propose requires a constitutional amendment and I cannot see any state ratifying any change that would ignore regional representation. If you do not think regional concerns matter, you are misinformed.

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Response to tymorial (Reply #58)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 09:44 AM

61. No, YOUR concept is preposterous

Thanks for proving my point that we were brought up to see how STATES are represented... and not how PEOPLE are.

What you're buying into is the idea that the ONLY morally legitimate way to protect legitimate interests is to to give some minority group more power than they deserve in a democratic system... and to allow them to extend that power over ALL matters, not just in areas that protect those interests. So why not do this for ALL groups that have suffered very REAL historical discrimination or repression? Groups such as racial minorities and women? Why do they have settle for Brand X protections like mere laws? Why don't other nations rush to such antidemocratic "solutions"?

If you toss out whatever you learned in 4th grade history... and I say this not to be insulting... I know this is tough, you can EASILY see where there are DEMOCRATIC solutions to protecting legitimate minority rights. For instance there is that Bill Of Rights approach... which targets specific rights to be protected. We could insure that people who represent certain groups are guaranteed chairs in select committees that write legislation concerning their interests.

Once we go antidemocratic... then the power of these minority groups is not constrained to their issues... and in the Senate a mere 18% of the US population gets 52% of the seats... and a mere 30% gets a filibuster proof majority. In the amendment process states with a mere 40% of the population can pass any amendment yet states with a mere 4% can stop any.
To ANYONE who claims to value democratic concepts, this is just nuts.

I know this goes against our civic religion. Our early schooling is tough to question... and embarrassingly enough I didn't even give the Senate ANY thought until I was in my late 40s when I read a MoJo article called 75 Stars http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/01/75-stars it doesn't go as far as I would. I think the entire concept of state suffrage has to go... in EVERY part of the Constitution... the EC, Senate, amendment process. It's the ONLY way to finally make the US a democratic nation.

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Response to eniwetok (Original post)

Sun Apr 3, 2016, 11:37 PM

57. You mean like how the vote of someone in wymoing is way more proportionally powerful in the Senate

Than the vote of somone in California?

Well, it certainly skews our government in a more conservative, red, rural-friendly direction.

But it is what it is, and we're stuck with it.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #57)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:09 AM

62. we're only stuck with it if...

We're only stuck with the current system if we don't question it... unless you're admitting that we must be victims of the will of the long dead. That would be a shocking conclusion since it was the Framers who ripped up the Articles which were to be a perpetual union based on unambitious consent of states to make any changes. They had the courage to change what wasn't working... and we don't?

But I admit that we live in a straightjacket... both ideological and political... within a system that is getting more and more antidemocratic and protected by a civic religion that there's nothing wrong with our system. It would take a 50 year plan to reform the system... and even that's optimistic. And yet look at what the far right has done the past 40 years once they developed a master strategy... to hijack the federal judiciary, to destroy unions, to pass irresponsible tax cuts, to create massive debt to help Starve The Beast, to expand corporate personhood, to deregulate Wall St, to create a massive propaganda industry and media, to suppress the Democratic vote, to create ALEC.

If we don't act we'll continue to live in a system that was designed to give elites a veto over the People... and I'd argue that it's that power that has allowed the rise of corporate dominance in the US while in places like the EU they maintain more power over the corporate form.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #62)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 04:47 PM

65. If I wasn't capable of "questioning" it, I wouldn't have mentioned it.

But it's fairly hard-baked into our Constitution. The bar is set pretty high for the modification of such things.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #65)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 07:45 PM

66. the bar is insanely high

When less that 4% of the US population can block any amendment... then the bar is insanely high. And one MIGHT think that liberal Dems... the ones who wear democracy on their sleeves, might object to the antidemocratic nature of the federal system... but my experience over the past 15 years of debating this is they make the same excuses for it as right wingers do. They are stuck in the talking points we learned in 4th grade history that justifies the system... that is to see what matters is what's fair to states, not to the actual people that live in them.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #66)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 08:32 PM

67. it is important to remember, absolutely. And I'm all for pointing it out.

but I wouldn't hold my breath for it to ever be changed.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #67)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:20 PM

68. I hope you're wrong

But if we have a civic religion that's as fundamentalist as real religions... then I think you're correct. The strength of such religions isn't that there's any truth behind their claims... it's that they create a belief system can't be challenged from within those self-justifying set of assumptions. As such it's not a self-correcting system compared to those who place democratic VALUES first. In that case the defects in the current system will always remain painfully obvious.

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Response to eniwetok (Reply #68)

Mon Apr 4, 2016, 10:22 PM

69. There is a logistical process to changing the constitution, though, that goes beyond simply changing

peoples' beliefs.

And as such, as you note, the bar is set pretty high.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #69)

Tue Apr 5, 2016, 09:24 AM

71. what I'm saying

What I'm saying is the belief system prevents us from questioning the absurdity of the amendment formula which as become increasingly antidemocratic. Not even liberal Dems, the very ones who wear democracy on their sleeves, the very ones we'd expect democratic reform infinitives to arise from, show any concern about the antidemocratic and reformproof nature of our system. But then the Constitution has become principle unto itself... and they don't even bother trying to define what democracy even is. The cognitive dissonance here is off the scales.

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