No sane country designing a constitution today would establish an institution like the United States Senate. The fact that we are suffer under it is the best illustration of what political scientists call “path dependance,” the ability of bad decisions in the past (recall that James Madison hated the “Great Compromise” that brought us the Senate, which should give reverential “originalists” at least some pause, or, at least, they should explain why the Senate is any more legitimate than the 3/5 Compromise that entrenched the power of slaveowners, the other “Great Compromise” that made the Constitution possible).
The above is Levinson’s reaction to George Packer’s must read article on the Senate. The Senate was flawed from the beginning and has only become more so with age. Go read Packer’s article for examples of just how dysfunctional the Senate has become. But that’s not the real issue – there is probably no institution that is less democratic than the US Senate. The two Senators from Wyoming represent 520, 000 people while the two Senators from California represent 38,200,000 people. Do the math – in the Senate the residents of Wyoming have 73 votes for each vote of the residents of California. A single Senator can put a hold on any nomination and it effectively now takes 60 Senators to pass any legislation. These things by themselves are undemocratic but it is multiplied by two Senators per state.
The Senate was a bad idea from the beginning and has only gotten worse. What we need is a Constitutional amendment that does away with the Senate and gives each state two at large Super Representatives that serve for six years. The Senate is just too broken to be fixed. Yes, I realize that there will be times that those in charge will not share my ideology but that is better than a dysfunctional government. Bad legislation will result in punishment at the polls.
Cross posted at Newhoggers