A friend forwarded me an email from a friend of his who was complaining about the U.S. Senate possibly remaining in Republican hands. This person believes the system is unfair because it allows rural states to control urban states. Here’s part of what he wrote.
“The Senate disproportionately empowers rural white populations that overwhelmingly vote Republican. The GOP currently holds both Senate seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Those 11 states have 22 senators who collectively represent fewer people than the population of California, which has two Senate seats. We have an election system that is distinctively tilted against Democrats wielding legislative power.”
This idea is rooted in a fundamental misconception about the very nature of America’s political system – that the United States is “one nation.”
And of course, government schooling perpetuates and reinforces this myth.
Here’s my response.
I doubt you will ever give a satisfying answer to somebody who believes that the U.S. is supposed to be one giant unitary nation and that the will of a majority of the 320 million people should reign supreme. That’s quite simply not the American system. It is a union of 50 sovereign states.
The states are the preeminent political society in the system – not some mythical national majority. The Senate was created as the body that represents the interest of the states. The simple fact is that if the majority of the states are rural then the Senate is doing exactly what it was intended to do.
I think the real problem is the federal government is involved in far too much stuff that is of a local concern. If the powers of the federal government were “few and defined” as the constitutional structure intended, it really wouldn’t be a problem for people in California if federal power leaned toward rural states.
Here’s how Madison defined the constitutional system.
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce; with which the last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”
The problem is we’ve flipped the system on its head and now the federal government is involved in the lives, liberties and properties of the people and the internal order of the states. That means the makeup of the Senate impacts healthcare, education and policing in California. In reality, those things should be completely directed by the people of that state.
As always, the answer is decentralization. Quit counting on D.C. to run everything. Devolve power back to the states so Nebraska isn’t directing policy in California and vice-versa. As Jefferson said:
“Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single [federal] government. Public servants at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens and…will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder, and waste.”
But as I said, this probably won’t resonate with your friend because he’s programmed to think of America as one big blob and we must have homogeneous policies because of the reasons. He wants monopoly government, even though he would condemn monopolies in every other situation.
Constitution Owner’s Manual: The Real Constitution Politicians Don’t Want You to Know About is the remedy for this kind of constitutional confusion. Click HERE for more information.