America’s democracy is failing. Here’s why.

“Let’s start with a plausible scenario that could play out in the 2020 election.

Democrats win the popular vote by an even wider margin than Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million vote lead in 2016, running up the score in solid blue states and closing most of the gap in large red states like Texas. Pennsylvania and Michigan return to the Democratic fold, but Trump ekes out the narrowest of victories in Wisconsin. He walks away with exactly 270 electoral votes and the presidency.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have a strong year, but not nearly as strong as 2018. Democratic candidates win every congressional district where Hillary Clinton prevailed in 2016, plus every district where Clinton lost by less than 3 percentage points. Democratic House candidates win the total popular vote by a few percentage points, but it’s not enough. Despite her party’s popular vote victory, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is once again demoted to minority leader.

 n the Senate, Democrats pick up seats in Colorado and Maine, but they never really have a shot at replicating Sen. Doug Jones’s fluke win in Alabama. Republicans end up with a 52-seat majority in the Senate — and, with it, the ability to keep filling the courts up with Trump judges. Although the Democratic “minority” would represent about 17 million more people than the Republican “majority” in this scenario, Mitch McConnell still controls the Senate.

Solid majorities of the nation, in other words, could vote for a Democratic White House, a Democratic House, and a Democratic Senate, and yet Republicans could gain control of all three.

The system is rigged. It was rigged from the outset, quite intentionally, to favor small states. Under current political coalitions, that’s become an enormous advantage for Republicans. The country’s framers obviously could not have known that they were creating a system that would give Donald Trump’s party an unfair advantage over Hillary Clinton’s party more than two centuries later. But they did create a system that favors small states over large states.

That means that a political coalition that is largely powered by voters in dense, urban areas — like, say, modern-day Democrats — are at a terrible disadvantage under thisconstitutional arrangement. (And, to be clear, the system would be just as anti-democratic if it put Republicans at a disadvantage instead.)

Republicans, meanwhile, take their unfair advantage and build on it by gerrymandering the states they control, using their Senate “majority” to fill the courts with Republican judges, and then using their control of the judiciary to bolster their own party’s chances in elections.

This is how United States now finds itself barreling toward a legitimacy crisis.”

“more than half of the US population lives in just nine states. That means that much of the nation is represented by only 18 senators. Less than half of the population controls about 82 percent of the Senate.”

“Republicans owe their majority in the Senate as a whole to their crushing 29-21 lead in the least populous half of the states. Those small states tend to be dominated by white voters who are increasingly likely to identify with the Republican Party.” 

“The Founding Fathers came together at Philadelphia to achieve union at nearly any cost, because they wanted to avoid the persistent warfare that plagued Europe. Without a union, Amar says, “each nation-state might well raise an army, ostensibly to protect itself against Indians or Europeans, but also perhaps to awe its neighbors.”

Nor was this merely a hypothetical concern. When large states proposed a fair legislature, where each state would be given seats proportional to its population, Delaware delegate Gunning Bedford literally threatened that his state would make war on its neighbors. “The large states dare not dissolve the Confederation,” Bedford insisted, or else “the small states will find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith.”

This is why we have a Senate: In a negotiation among 13 sovereign nations, each of these nations may demand equality as the price of union. Whatever the wisdom of this devil’s bargain in 1787, America is a very different place today. There is little risk that Utah will make war on Colorado, or that New Hampshire will invade Vermont.

Instead, we are headingtoward a future where — barring some kind of major partisan realignment — the Senate will routinely feature a majority that represents far less than half of the nation as a whole. In the current Senate, the Republican “majority” represents about15 million fewer people than the Democratic “minority.” And if current trends continue, the Republican advantage is likely to grow.”

“The Senate does not simply give extra representation to small states, it gives the biggest advantage to states with large populations of white, non-college-educated voters — the very demographic that is trending rapidly toward the GOP.” 

“Two years ago, Neil Gorsuch made history, becoming the first member of the Supreme Court in American history to be nominated by a president who lost the popular vote and confirmed by a bloc of senators who represent less than half of the country. The second was Brett Kavanaugh.

Similarly, Senate malapportionment also allowed Republicans to hold the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat open until Trump could fill it. When Scalia died in 2016, Republicans had a 54-46 majority in the Senate, despite the fact that Democratic senators represented about 20 million more people than Republicans in 2016.” 

“The best case for the Electoral College was offered by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. The choice of a president, Hamilton wrote, “should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station.” Such a process, Hamilton assured us, “affords a moral certainty” that “the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”” 

“the Electoral College is not capable of achieving Hamilton’s stated goal. The people who make up the Electoral College are rarely “men most capable of analyzing” who would be an excellent president. They are typically partisan loyalists, selected by their party to perform one and only one task — robotically voting for whoever the party nominated to be president.” 

“Thanks to the Electoral College, candidates focus almost exclusively on a handful of swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, or Michigan, while solid red states and solid blue states are largely ignored.”

“The United States Constitution, according to University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson, “is the most difficult to amend or update of any constitution currently existing in the world today.” It takes three-quarters of the states to ratify constitutional amendments — which means that Republicans will almost certainly be able to block any attempt to remove the Constitution’s anti-democratic features.” 

“Realistically, the most democratic solutions, such as abolishing the Senate or replacing it with a body that fairly represents all Americans, are off the table in a nation that cannot amend its Constitution. And so we’re likely left with our undemocratic system for a long while, pushing for reform when and where possible, but likely unable to fix the system absent a major political realignment”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *