“There is a large and growing part of the country that no longer feels that the government represents them. It’s really the governments problem to fix or ignore. The average everyday person has no power to do anything.”
One major problem? The Senate. Why? Well, in theory, in a country of 330 million US citizens, Senators representing 33 million US citizens can filibuster legislation. It rarely works like that, at the moment, because of the particular make-up of which states are red and which are blue. But when a system allows 10% of the entire population to just stop legislation passing, even if the Senators representing the other 90% are all in agreement, there’s a problem with the system. In practice, legislation that polls in the high 50s, low 60s across the US can’t get passed, because of the Senate. An example: the COVID relief bill has large-scale support, upwards of 65% among Americans, and yet they have to use reconciliation to get it passed. Not as extreme as the most extreme case, but still pretty damn extreme.
This is made worse by the fact that the House isn’t actually proportional in its representation. All the high population states, CA, FL, TX, … are underrepresented, due to the cap, and requirement to have a certain minimum amount of representatives per state, regardless of population size.
The problem is that the state representation is overly represented, in all 3 branches of government.
- Executive: The EC insures an over-representation by smaller states, and also just damages the entire process by turning what should be a national race into a race for 10 states.
- Legislative: The Senate and, as explained due to the cap, the House.
- Judiciary: Because the Executive selects nominees to be OK-ed by the Senate, again, state representation is more important than proportionate representation.
I understand the requirement to have some state representation. That makes sense to me. But the fact that it is currently present in the 3 branches, and proportionate isn’t in a single seat of power, is making things untenable, due to the disproportionate population growth in select areas and not in others.
Here’s the truth: if you live in a high population state, your federal government doesn’t represent you. If you live in a low population state, you are over-represented in the federal government.
And at a state level, the fact that drawing re-districting lines is in the hands of the people already in power is another disaster. No one with any level of sense can justify a system where elected officials get to draw their own lines for their own districts in which they’re going to run in 2 years time. It makes no sense. It’s not a question of the voters choosing their elected officials, but their elected officials selecting who are their voters, and who can make them win. This is not a good system.
Any and all system will have flaws, but there are a few solutions, without having to completely redesign the entire framework of the US government.
- Get rid of the EC. Implement proportionate representation. Also: stop “winner takes all” in most states. This is also leading to huge amounts of non-voters and general disillusionment. If you’re one of the millions of Republicans in California, you may as well set your ballot on fire. And if you’re one of the millions of Democrats in Texas, you can do the same. It’s pointless, but it shouldn’t be.
- Remove the cap on the House, and actually have proportionate representation, where one Congressperson from Montana represents the same amount of people as one Congressperson from California or Florida. This would mean more representatives, of course, but in the 21st century, it should be manageable. Off-line, in-house voting tech can speed votes up, as an example.
- Let’s stop with the charade of pretending that SCOTUS nominations are anything other than just partisan attempts to pack the court with ideologically friendly judges. Embrace it. Have 3 named by Democrats, 3 named by Republicans, and they have to decide, by unanimous decisions, the last 3. That way, you keep the Judicial very much separate from the Executive and Legislative branches. The more separation of powers, the better accountability between the different branches of government. Or have the House play some role in the nomination process. Either can work.
The current system allows for over-consolidation of power in certain areas, and a lack of a voice in others. This then feeds into other problems, such as growing executive power for the President, something that should worry Democrats and Republicans alike, because the President feels the need to take matters into their own hands when bill after bill dies pathetically in the Senate.
What are some other possibilities? Maybe limit the amount of time you can use the filibuster per session. This means it can still be used, but it must be used sparingly, allowing the majority party to sometimes get policy through, whereas the minority party can still cockblock if something is particularly egregious to them.
This has turned more into an exercise in spitballing, but the bottom line is that it would require actual change to the actual framework of the US government, at least at the federal level, and regarding the re-districting also at the state level. And no one wants to propose these changes.
Written by Cybugger