Urban Coalition of Political Power

Imagine a time in the not too distant future, or perhaps in the very distant future, depending on how the political winds are blowing, when a City could have its own U.S. Senator that would represent the entire Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It would have political clout and political power as part of an urban coalition within the U.S. Senate.  It could be one of the 33 MSA’s that would join the existing 100 Senators enlarging the U.S. Senate to grand total of 133 seats.  And all other metropolitan urban areas and regional entities could gain political power by virtue of having an urban coalition voice in the U.S. Senate.

 

We need to think of this change as an expansion of shareholders in a large corporation, where the corporation in this case, is the United States and the new shares will be distributed among the top earners in the corporation, the MSA's. We originally had 100 shares, now we will have 133 shares. 

 

However, before this could happen there are a couple of small constitutional challenges that would need to be achieved. The first challenge is to expose the very real fundamental political bias that has been a part of our political legacy since the ratification of our Constitution. From the very beginning of our democracy, there has been a gulf between the rural and urban spheres of influence in our country and it is reflected as a bias in our Constitution and that bias is that our urban population was not and still is not currently being adequately represented in the U.S. Senate. 

 

It is a fact that the Constitution was written to reflect our agrarian roots. In fact, this rural sphere of political bias is embedded within the DNA of the Constitution as it pertains to the U.S. Senate. This embedded bias and inequality is reflected in the representation of two Senators per State that was established in Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which states “that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”  The legitimacy and codification dictated in this language was arrived at through the “Grand Compromise” during the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

It is also a fact that our country’s population makeup has shifted from an agrarian nation to an urban nation and the current U.S. Senate’s representation does not reflect this urban centric shift in our society. It still reflects the governance model of an agrarian society. This bias renders the Senate a political body grossly out of touch with the complexities of our modern Society.  In order for the U.S. Senate to function in a productive environment in the 21st century and beyond, we must expose and resolve this problem through the passage of a Constitutional Amendment that will reform and realign the power structure within the U.S. Senate. 

In an article dated Dec. 4. 2018 the late distinguished Honorable Congressman John D. Dingell, who served 59 years in the U.S. House Of Representatives, wrote an article entitled "I served in Congress Longer than anyone. Here's how to fix it.  Abolish the Senate and publicly fund elections" .  In the paragraph entitled " The end of minority rule in our legislature and executive branches"  he said, "The Great Compromise, as it was called when it was adopted by the Constitution's Framers, required that all states, big and small, have two Senators. The idea that Rhode Island needed two U.S. senators to protect itself from being bullied by Massachusetts emerged under a system that governed only 4 million Americans.  

Today, in a nation of more than 325 million and 37 additional states, not only is that structure antiquated, it is downright dangerous.  California has almost 40 million people, while the 20 smallest states have a combined population totaling less than that.  Yet because of an 18th century political deal, those 20 states have 40 senators, while California has just two. These sparsely populated usually conservative states can block legislative supported by the majority of the American people. That's just plain crazy". The math is even starker at places like Wyoming and Vermont, each of which has fewer people in the entire state (575,000 and 625,000 respectively) than does the the Twelfth Congressional District of Michigan, which I last represented and has more than 700,000 residents and are now in the hands of my wife, Debbie.  She fights her heart out for them every single day. Yet her efforts are often stymied simply because it is understood that even should a good bill make it through the hyper-partisan House, it will die a quiet death in the Senate because of the disproportionate influence of small states.

With my own eyes, I've watched in horror and increasing anger as that imbalance in power has become the primary cause of our national legislature paralysis. In primaries, the vocal rump of a minority of obnoxious asses can hold the entire country hostage to extremist views. This insanity has sent true public servants fleeing for the exits. The Electoral College has the same structural flaw. Along with fleeing 337 of my colleagues, I voted in 1969 to amend the Constitution to abolish it. Twice in the past 18 years. we've seen the loser of of the popular vote become the president through the Electoral College formula, which gives that same disproportionate weight to small states, each of which gets two automatic votes for its senators.

My friend Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, sees a demographic shift coming that will effectively transform us into two countries. He tells me that "in 2050, 70 percent of Americans will be living in 15 states. That 70 percent will then have 30 senators, and the remaining 30 percent of the people, mainly those living in the smallest and poorest states, will have 70 senators.

How do we fix this? Practically speaking, it will be very difficult, given the specific constitutional protection granted these small states to veto any threat to their outsize influence.

There is a solution, however, that could gain immediate popular support: Abolish the Senate, At a minimum, combine the two chambers into one, and the problem will be solved. It will take a national movement, starting at the grassroots level, and will require massive organizing, strategic voting, and strong leadership over the course of a generation. But it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?  "Abolish the Senate." I'm having blue caps printed up with that slogan right now. They will be made in America."

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