In 2016, most Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. They got President Donald Trump. Republicans represent fewer citizens than Democrats, yet they have controlled the Senate for more than half of this century. Senators supporting Bret Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court represented only 44 per cent of Americans, less than those who opposed him, but there he is, wearing the robes. The American electoral system manages to corrupt all three branches of government.

The reason? Article I, section 3, clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution which states “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” (In 1913 the article was amended to provide for direct election.)

As a result of this constitutional mischief, the Senate grossly misrepresents Americans. California, for example, with a population of 39,512,223, has the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming with 578,759 people. Putting it another way, each citizen of Wyoming has 68 votes to each Californian’s one. 

A majority of Americans live in just nine states. They have 18 votes in the Senate, while the minority has 82. Obviously, despite the Declaration of Independence, all men are not created equal in the modern U.S.

This corrupted Senate approves Supreme Court Justices and also makes up about a fifth of the Electoral College, which elects the president. Consequently, the corruption is carried over into both the choice of justices and the election of the chief of state.

It is much more than just unequal representation. The more densely populated states tend to lean liberal and Democrat. Furthermore, they also tend be more urban and to have a higher degree of racial diversity. Not only are Democratic and liberal or left-leaning citizens short-changed, so are blacks and Latinos.

Addressing some of the most serious issues in the country, including gun control, racism and global warming, becomes increasingly challenging. And this is getting worse every day as large states continue to add population while the smaller states continue to shrink. 

What can be done? The answer, unfortunately, is not much. Article 5 of the Constitution declares that “no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” This implies that a constitutional amendment to change the way seats are allocated or simply to abolish the body entirely would require the approval of every state. The chances of every small state agreeing to that is remote.

The real question is how long will those citizens being slowly disenfranchised put up with it? Ultimately the only answer may be breaking up the country. Indeed, one might ask why a state like California would bother to stay. As a liberal, Democratic state with a highly diverse, largely urban population, it includes all the losers. 

In any case, the country is inching toward a constitutional crisis. This could put our separation squabbles in the shade.

2 thoughts on “U.S. democracy corrupted by U.S. constitution”
  1. When was the last time Canada had a majority government that most Canadians voted for? In Canada we get saddled with majority governments on the strength of anywhere from 36 to 39 percent of the vote. That nullifies the wishes of three out of five voters.

    Democracy is based on the consent of the governed. If the majority don’t consent, they are not governed. They are ruled. When slightly fewer than two out of five consent to being ruled by a party where is the democracy in that?

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