U.S. Democracy a Sham? May 1, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in About Democracy, Democracy.
Tags: american democracy, California, constitution, democracy, democratic representation, democratic rule, democrats, filibuster, filibuster proof, gandhi, government, injustice, majority rule, minority rule, political science, republicans, revolution, revolutionary change, roger hollander, senate, senators, US constitution, US Senate, wyoming
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Roger Hollander, www.rogerhollander.com, May Day, 2009.
When Gandhi was asked by a journalist what he thought of Western Civilization, he replied famously that he thought it would be a good idea. He could have said the same for American democracy.
Now that there is a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, there is much discussion about the necessity to obtain a “filibuster-proof” majority of 60 seats. Somehow the Republicans when in power got their program through with a simple majority. Both these data tell us more about the Democrats than the Republicans. Google the word “Republicrat” and see how many entries you get.
In an essay I wrote some time ago and posted on this Blog last August, (http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/category/rogers-archived-writing/political-essays-roger/the-constitution-is-unconstitutional/) I analyzed the various injustices inherent in the original United States Constitution, some of which have been amended out of existence (slavery, women’s non-sufferance, etc.), and focused on what I characterize as one of the most undemocratic institutions in existence, the United States Senate. I showed how both in theory and in practice, representatives of much less than a majority of Americans control what does and does not get legislated in that astute body.
Since Obama does not yet have his 60 – only the goddess knows when Coleman will give up, and you can never count on sleazebag Lieberman – let’s take a look at the present contingent of Republican Senators, who have in effect a veto over the legislative process. Let’s see what percentage of the American population these 40 Republican Senators actually represent.
(I have taken the population data from the U. S. Census Bureau estimates for July 1, 2008 [http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html; “Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 (NST-EST2008-01”]. At that the estimate for the entire country was 304,060,000 [all estimates are rounded off to the nearest thousand]).
In the following states both senate seats are held by Republicans:
South Carolina 4,480,000
The following states are represented by one Republican Senator:
New Hampshire 1,316,000
North Carolina 9,222,000
South Dakota 804,000
Let’s do the math. By adding the total population for the states in which both Senators are Republican (75,631,000) to half of the population of the states in which there is one Republican Senator (68,097,000/2 = 34,049,000) we get a sum total of 109,680,000.
This figure represents 36% of the overall American population. The representatives of those 36% in the United States Senate essentially hold the country hostage with respect to legislation (this is based upon the assumption is that all Senators will vote according to the dictates of the party leadership; although this is not always the case, it is not unreasonable to assume that those who cross over from each party cancel each other out).
36%. U.S. democracy in action.
In my original essay (“The Constitution is Unconstitutional”) I compared California with Wyoming with respect to democratic representation in the Senate. Using the updated 2008 population data, let’s take a new look. We have California with a population of 36,757,000 and Wyoming with a whopping 533,000. Yet each state has exactly two representatives in the Senate. One Senator for every 267,000 Wyomingites; one Senator for each 18,379,000 Californians. If you live in Wyoming you have 69 times more senatorial political power than someone living in California.
69 to one. U.S democracy in action.
So big deal, you say, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Instead of whining about it, why don’t you suggest what can be done. In my original essay I argued that the Constitution seemed to establish the Senate in a way that it could never be amended. I am quite possibly wrong about that; perhaps a Constitutional Amendment could democratize the Senate or abolish it. But can you imagine that happening in a dozen lifetimes? No way, Ho Zay.
So what then? In my article I argued for revolution. If you’re interested, read the article. Here again is the link: http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/category/rogers-archived-writing/political-essays-roger/the-constitution-is-unconstitutional/