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The Road to Tyranny Begins Here
This has been percolating for some time now but the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court is going to accelerate the debate and push the following into the mainstream of our politics: The Senate must be abolished or altered so significantly as to render it powerless in the nation’s business.
Before I begin to lay out the arguments that are being presented, let me preface this with the following disclaimer — the Progressive Left is not interested in your civics lessons or talk about the history of the Constitution. For them, the United States is fundamentally flawed and any argument you may wish to make is evidence that you share the same inherent misogyny and racism of the Founding Fathers. You must defend it on their terms and on their terms only.
The Senate, according to the Progressive Left, is undemocratic and non-responsive to the will of the people. It is fundamentally unfair for the smallest state in the Union to have equal representation to, say, California or New York. In just a few short years, goes the argument, up to 70 percent of the population will have but 30 percent of the voice in the upper chamber. As they see it, these smaller states are just too damned Republican and abolishing the Senate in its current form will finally — finally — remove that cancer from the body politic.
As an added benefit, if the Senate is abolished then the rationale behind the Electoral College goes with it. Direct election of the President will allow the urban centers to completely dominate the process.
Next comes the call for the House to be turned into a true body of representation. The state houses must not be allowed to draw Congressional Districts. Many on the left are proposing eliminating districts altogether. First comes the call to for all districts to be “at large,” and then the seats will be divvied up according to the percentage of the vote the parties receive. After that the seats will be further subdivided by demographics. The House must be made to “look like America.” This will, of course, make party chairs the ultimate kingmakers, but that’s ok since the folks pushing these schemes have every intention of being among those that hand out the crowns.
The rallying cry is, and will be, “proportionality.” As the Democratic Presidential primary season kicks off in the next couple of months after the midterms, make sure that word is on your debate bingo card. You will be hearing it a lot. You were promised “the fundamental transformation” of the United States. And you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
ADDENDUM: Also on your debate bingo card should be a square about the “illegitimacy” of the Supreme Court. They are also laying the foundations for either completely neutering the rulings of SCOTUS and/or presenting a scheme to begin expanding the membership to turn a 5-4 court into a 6-5 court (or greater).Published in Politics
I can just about bet Texas will not go along with this and cannot be pressured to do so. That would spark Texas independence.
That’s the idea.
Please map this out. Thanks.
I don’t know exactly which way it would be done. But when so much state funding comes from the feds, there are a lot of levers. It probably wouldn’t be as overt as forcing them to set speed limits or else lose highway funding, or accept their police oversight or lose federal police funding, but I wouldn’t count on states’ ability or desire to act independently when their budgets are not independent.
The problem that states like California will face is that, as long as people are free to move from state to state, they will have trouble holding onto the rich Californians they need to support their crazy state rules. It would only “work” if they a) prevented people from leaving, or, b) forced the entire country to adopt the same rules, so that there’s no easy alternative. Progressive ideas can’t work in a Federalist system, and they know it.
So your roadmap is that the Federal Government will use its money to bribe states into giving up their Senate Seats?
There’s an underlying tension here.
We all like to parrot the cliche that the US doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have majority rule or be a tyranny of the majority. The problem is that nobody has a great answer to the question of who should rule if not the majority? After all, a tyranny of the minority is even less desirable.
One of the complicated but elegant solutions in the original Constitution was that most federal legislators were not elected by citizens but appointed by other elected officials. This diluted the tendency of majority voters to want to oppress those voters in the minority without creating a tyranny of the minority.
But now that we’ve eliminated all appointments to legislative positions, we really do have something that more closely resembles minority rule, in that a minority of citizens can directly elect officials who control a majority of power. This is indeed a large break from our founding, both practically and philosophically.
The answer isn’t to just go whole-hog parliamentarian. But pretending that our current setup bears any resemblance to the founding vision is also a denial of reality.
There are two problems with this proposal (which I have seen a lot as a more tolerable “third way”).
The first is that awarding electors by district won’t eliminate the phenomenon of having a very small number of “swing states” – it will just change the level of contest from “swing states” to “swing districts”. In other words, since the vast majority of congressional districts already heavily favor one party or the other, the candidates will simply ignore those districts like they currently ignore 85% of the states in an election. The candidates will focus only on the 10% of congressional districts they perceive to be in play, which will likely amount to one suburban district per state or so.
The second problem is that if congressional districts are the unit used, then redistricting will become a major determinant of the presidency (in addition to the House). As a general principle, this probably isn’t healthy for democracy. On a practical level, it would mean that the decennial census/redistricting period would become a horrible political and legal slugfest that makes the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings look like an episode of Uncommon Knowledge.
Except that these conditions already exist – i.e. rich Californians are already subject to incredibly high costs of living and are free to leave at anytime – yet the net outflux of wealthy Californians is much lower than we would expect (although still >0). The same can be said for NYC, both Manhattan, the outer boroughs, and the general metropolitan region.
I think one explanation is that there are certain types of high-paying, highly-intellectual jobs that attract or instill a worldview that everything would work better if only smart people like me were in charge. These sorts of people are also often attracted to areas that feel like (and cost as much as) the college campuses they often came from. Yet many of these types of jobs are essential to a thriving and innovative economy, even if they might not be as important as their practitioners believe.
In other words, there’s something about the craziness of places like CA, Seattle, and urban New England that certain well-paid workers feel attracted to, and as a result we probably need to accept the existence of these hotbeds of insanity as part of the price of a dynamic economy.
The Whole point is that we are collection of States. The States are supposed to have a seat at the table along with the people. This would wipe that out.
Exactly – you can’t gerrymander an entire state. (I love when I hear Libs attribute Republican control of the Senate to gerrymandering).
The Constitution should not be amended by men of lesser intellect than the founders.
I don’t see the first of these as a problem, except that they make the entities known as states to be even less important than they are now.
The 2nd would indeed be a big problem.
Firstly yes it would. Mostly because it breaks up the Juggernaut of California. In the last several elections California’s electoral seats all went democratic. IF they where awarded by district (in the last election anyway) 10 would have been awarded to the republicans.
Secondly, Gerrymandering should be banned. Not because it creates safe seats to reward faithful party henchmen with, but because its undemocratic – allowing politicians to select their electorate. Districts should be defined as “the smallest possible geographically contiguous configuration that contains the required number of citizens”.
I disagree. Districts should be decided by the elected leaders. Thus far, it has not stopped any party from gaining power eventually. The elected leaders will do a bad job, but it is their job. The urge to take things about of their hands is understandable, but wrong.
If they don’t do it, who does? The Courts? What happens when your lines divide a small city in two? Do we make an exception there?
Nope, what we have stinks, but it is the least worst. If the people demand a change, they can demand a change by voting for it.
That won’t stop gerrymandering. It would just mean that gerrymandering has to comply with that definition.
No. That probably wouldn’t work, and it would also be too expensive.
Oh, it’d be expensive – *that* will certainly stop the government from doing it then.
I keep asking on this thread what the pathway people see to elimination of the Senate. I am all ready to be upset and anxious. I just need a plausable pathway.
The only plausible pathway to the elimination of the Senate leads to civil war. Given the barrier posed by Article 5 (unanimous consent of the states), the Senate can only be eliminated by fiat or by forcing all state legislatures to agree to its elimination. And in at least one state that would involve armed Federal troops holding the legislature at gunpoint, arresting and convicting all state legislators in a state opposed to eliminating the Senate on trumped-up Federal charges (replacing them with more compliant lawmakers) or some similar extra-legal procedure.
Could it happen? (Or rather without armed pushback?) Maybe in a dystopian novel.
I think the chances of progressives actually pushing things that far to be unlikely. So unlikely I would put the odds of a comet strike wiping out a major US city as being more likely. Save being upset and anxious for something more likely – like worrying whether Atlanta gets hit by a comet.
Well darn. And I was so looking for another thing to pull my hair out about. ;)
How’s this for an approach, @bryangstephens? They put forward a constitutional amendment eliminating the need for future amendments, by giving Congress the power to change the constitution. The argument will be that the constitution isn’t working, but that it’s too hard and takes too long to change it. One last hurdle, and they can do what they want forever.
“If you like your civil rights, you can keep your civil rights…”
If they can buy more corruption and abuse for less money, they will do it. They can’t maximize their power without putting their dollars in the right places.
First off, there is no way such a thing would pass 3/4 of the states. If that would pass, then it is all over anyway. Second, technically, that part cannot be amended. States cannot be stripped of their rights in the Senate if they do not agree.
Anybody think they’d go so far as to just declare that the Constitution is now obsolete and just ignore it? Nancy Pelosi said 8 years ago that that she didn’t think there needed to be any authority in the Constitution to enact the legislation she wanted (at the time, Obamacare).
Amend the Senate rules to give each Senator “votes” proportional to the state population. So, each Senator from Nebraska (population about 500,000, I think) would have 1 vote. Each Senator from California (population about 40 million, I think) would have 80 votes.
What Senator is going to vote for that who is getting screwed? Any such change would require the consent of the people getting screwed.
Basically, the Democrats can turn into real tyrants if they already are tyrants.
Theoretically it could be done with a simple majority of the Senate through changing the rules. The Constitution does say that each chamber can make its own rules.
Nope nope nope. Article I Section 3 explicitly states “…each Senator shall have one vote.”