Friday, December 4, 2009

Disband the US Senate: end "cheap seats" via internal state secessions

End "cheap seats" in US Senate: via internal state secessions:

West Virginia seceded from the rest of the state in 1860, as soon as the US Civil War began -- creating two extra US Senators in the post era war.

Quoth the US Constitution, Article IV, section 3: New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

I would reconstitute the US Senate -- at least for openers; allowing future democratic rethinking -- with one senator for every two million population. California for example would break itself up into nine smaller states for a total US Senate representation of 18. One senator to two million would add up to 160 US Senators overall in my calculations.
A reconstituted US Senate could pass a constitutional amendment instituting a new representation formula (one per two million?) -- then the states could by prearrangement reconstitute themselves into their traditional form.

Lilliputian state senators might filibuster any such movement to death? Many senators who applaud the Lilliputians come from states with huge -- and not so unprogressive -- populations (e.g., Texas, pop. 24,000,000) and might have trouble explaining to their constituents why they don't support more fairly democratic representation. Many Lilliputian states are ideologically progressive (e.g., Maine, pop. 670,000) and would go along in the interest of putting the nation as a whole on a progressive path. If nothing else a national movement to at last put the "greatest legislature in the world" on a truly representative basis would provide extraordinary moral pressure on the recalcitrant.

Allowing small population states to keep two senators is not perfectly democratic but is not very scary sounding either. Automatic salesmanship: one big population state just has to begin and the race will to make sure no heavily (normally) populated state's US Senate representation is left behind.

Sounds like a good proposition for one of the California democratic voter propositions (I'd call it "Prop. 160").

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