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Thu Apr 6, 2017, 09:46 PM

Some Thoughts On The Antidemocratic Senate From Mother Jones...

This is an old 1998 article... but when I see ANOTHER Supreme Court nominee ratified by Senators who no doubt will represent a minority of the American people... I think back to Clarence Thomas... who then became a key vote in Bush v Gore.

Even now, only 10 percent of the U.S. population elects 40 percent of the Senate. By filibustering, senators representing little more than one-tenth of the nation can block reforms supported by the House, the president—and their fellow senators, who represent the other 90 percent of the population. This is not democracy. It is minority rule. For example:

The Republican Party held the Senate from 1980-86 only because of Senate malapportionment. During that period, Republican senators as a group received fewer votes nationwide than Democratic senatorial candidates. If the Senate had been elected on the basis of population, President Ronald Reagan would have faced a Democratic Senate throughout his eight years in office.

In 1991, the Senate voted 52-48 to appoint Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The senators opposing Thomas (including those from California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas) represented a majority of the American people—but found themselves in the minority in the Senate.

In order to pass his budget package in 1993, President Clinton had to cave in to demands by senators from Montana, Arkansas, and Louisiana to lower the gasoline tax.

Likewise, Clinton's 1993 domestic stimulus program, which was targeted at metropolitan areas in megastates like California, was killed by conservative Republican and Democratic senators from underpopulated states such as Oklahoma.

While the Senate exaggerates the power of anti-urban, anti-government conservatives in domestic policy, when it comes to foreign affairs, the Senate has always been the command post of isolationism. As late as 1940, a bipartisan team of isolationists in the Senate blocked the efforts of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the House to revise the country's misguided neutrality laws and rescue Britain from defeat at the hands of the Nazis. Thanks to the unrepresentative Senate, Hitler came close to winning World War II.

The only Americans whose views are consistently magnified by Senate malapportionment are white, rural, right-wing isolationists. If you are nonwhite or of mixed race, if you live in a major metropolitan area, if you are liberal or centrist, if you support an internationalist foreign policy, or even if you are a conservative who lives in a populous state, you should look on the Senate with loathing and apprehension.

Because of its role in screening executive and judicial appointees, the Senate also has a disproportionate influence on all three branches. To make matters worse, the senators' staggered six-year terms—intended to insulate the enlightened statesmen of the upper house—have merely ensured that the Senate would be out of touch with the times, as well as out of touch with the American majority.


http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1998/01/75-stars

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