Should the senate be changed?
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  Should the senate be changed?
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Pulaski
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« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2020, 10:34:26 AM »
« edited: April 26, 2020, 10:38:48 AM by Pulaski »


Here is a quick look at some demographics data.
*The 10 largest states (CA/TX/FL/NY/PA/IL/OH/GA/NC/MI) are sending 10 democratic senators and 10 republican senators. In other words the most populous states have a equally partisan Senate delegation. Yeah, sorry democrats, large states are not just California.
*The 10 smallest states (WY, VT, ND, AK, SD, DE, RI, MT, ME, NH) are, (BIG SURPRISE) also sending a equal number of democratic and republicans senators. You see, liberals ? Sparsely populated states are not just WY or SD, they are also VT and DE (the states from where your two main presidential contenders are coming from)

There's cherrypicking, and then there's cherrypicking.

Take the ten smallest states you mentioned: New Hampshire has more than twice the population of Wyoming or Vermont. It doesn't matter that it's in the bottom 10; it's much closer to the 5 states above it in population than those two.

Your point about the top ten states ignores that the next 5 most populous send a total of 1 Republican to the senate - so the 15 most populous states (making up a little more than 60% of the US population, excluding DC) have 19 Dems and 11 Republicans. Already we're getting a little out of whack.

If we do slightly more sophisticated analysis, and assume 1 Senator represents half a state's population (allowing for split states to have their representation counted evenly), and count Sanders and King as Dems, we find that the 47 Democratic Senators represent ~51.9% of the 50 states, and the 53 Republicans represent ~48.1% - this, again, is excluding DC, which is a whole other ballgame about lack of representation.

Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone; the Senate was literally designed to favour wealthy landholders. The states that voted for it at the Constitutional Convention constituted only about a third of the US population at the time - the Senate has, from its inception, been unrepresentative. It wasn't a genius, irremovable lynchpin of the US system; Madison openly admitted it was a matter of compromise. He'd originally favoured proportional representation.

I also don't accept your point that for progressives it's all about stacking the chamber. If you switched to proportional representation (and awarded Senators each state proportionally according to the vote in each state, something like Australia's system), you automatically enfranchise the millions of Republican voters in California and New York. There aren't even millions of people in Montana, Wyoming and Alaska, let alone the requisite Democrats to cancel out those new Republican voters that suddenly have a voice. Representation means just that: representation. Conservatives never like it; their entire movement is predicated on thwarting it at every turn.
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2020, 12:11:49 PM »

As more and more people flock to cities, by 2050, about 15 states are expected to have 70% of the population. Especially as the rural-urban divide continues to grow , this could spell out trouble, like one party (the Republican party) has a lock on the senate just by winning 40% of the vote or something like that. I get the point of the senate was the represent the states, not the people, but since California is a state with more people, shouldn't it get more senators, the same way it needs more resources and has a bigger economy than any other state? I kind of think that a cool solution would be if senator's actual votes were weighted based on the population they represent, but that would bring new problems, like the fact that population is always changing and Republicans still exist even in CA and NY. We're already begginning to see this problem today; the senators who voted for Kavanaugh represent a minority of the country, and despite Dems winning the PV in 2016, and 2018 being a D landslide, it'll take another semi-landslide to flip the senate in 2020. Increased partisanship could make it more or less impossible for the party that aligns with urban voters to ever get a senate majoirty, even if they represent a majoity of the country. Does omething need to be done, and if so, what?

Bolded - The House of Representatives already accounts for the population differences in each state, as California has more representatives in the House than any other state. It would be a redundancy to have the Senate follow the same design, with more senators allocated to the populous states.

Just leave it as it is. Each state has different people, different lifestyles, different customs,  and different beliefs. Some states are more religious, some are more diverse, some have more resources, etc. The senate ensures that the differences in each state will always get some  attention, regardless of population (or lack thereof). And correspondingly, the House ensures that those smaller states donít get too much attention.

When you factor that the Senate doesnít exist on its own, that it exists alongside the House, then you should see that the system is fine as it is.




But why should voters from smaller states get extra protection in the senate and EC, when voters from large states and Urban Cities don't get any extra "protection" I would argue the house doesn't favor cities since usually cities vote 95% D, but rual areas are mostly 70-30 R minus rural districts that have a large minority population. In 2018, even though Dems won the house, it took them a landslide to win, whereas in 2016, Reblicans held more seats but barely won the PV. Literally, in every way, if you're a voter in an urban city, your vote is less powerful than a rural voter. That just seems wrong to me. Look at how the Rs can easily get a trifecta in an R+0 year, but Ds have to win in a landslide. Right now, there's only 2 Rs in objectivley blue states: CO and ME, but Dems have senate seats in WV, MT, AL and OH, alongside most of the seats in tossup states and still don't have a majority in the senate.

The fact that Democrats win 95% of the urban vote (which is only true if you define "urban" as places with New York or San Francisco-type density, there are more Republican votes in urban/suburban areas that rural areas)  isn't a problem with the  House of Representatives, it's a problem with the Democratic Party. 
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Free Bird
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« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2020, 01:24:12 PM »

All I'm saying is I never saw calls to abolish/reform the Senate when Nebraska and the Dakotas were collectively sending six Democrats to it, which was during basically all of our conscious lifetimes, mind you.
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Brother Jonathan
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« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2020, 10:10:08 PM »

The difficultly with any attempt to reform the Senate is that it has more Constitutional insulation than any other body. Article V states that "No state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate". Any attempt to balance out the Senate population wise (short of redrawing states, which has been suggested in this thread) would be borderline unconstitutional. It could be argued that Article V could be amended to remove that section, but I think that would be pretty radical and legally dubious. I would say such a maneuver would be unconstitutional, given that Article V deals with amendments so the intent was clearly to prevent the states from being deprived equal representation in the Senate. So, just from a legal standpoint, I think Senate reform would be an absolute nightmare that likely would precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Further, it must be remembered that the US is a federal republic, so it balances both the rights of its people and the rights of its constituent parts. Every voter is equal, and they are represented in the House, while every state is equal to any other state. A voter in Wyoming is equal to a voter in California, and the states they live in are in turn equal to one another. Hence, the voter in Texas and the voter in California are represented in the House, while their states are represented in the Senate. If we hand't moved to direct election of senators, this sort of divide would make more sense, and for that reason I think the 17th Amendment was a very poor idea.

I also know it sounds anachronistic now, but we need safeguards to protect the interests of the minority. That doesn't mean that the minority can rule, and in our system the majority will eventually prevail if its support is broad and deep enough, but we can't gut every institutional safeguard against the will of the majority simply because the minority is able to impede the agenda of the majority. The majority is not always on the side of justice or liberty, more often than not I think we can see that the majority is a greater threat to liberty than the minority. When Republicans have majorities in the country, they use the tools of the majority with unscrupulous zeal to pursue their ends, and so too do the Democrats. The beauty of the system is that, whoever is in the minority, has the institutional tools to resist this onslaught.
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Starry Eyed Jagaloon
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« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2020, 11:23:56 PM »

As more and more people flock to cities, by 2050, about 15 states are expected to have 70% of the population. Especially as the rural-urban divide continues to grow , this could spell out trouble, like one party (the Republican party) has a lock on the senate just by winning 40% of the vote or something like that. I get the point of the senate was the represent the states, not the people, but since California is a state with more people, shouldn't it get more senators, the same way it needs more resources and has a bigger economy than any other state? I kind of think that a cool solution would be if senator's actual votes were weighted based on the population they represent, but that would bring new problems, like the fact that population is always changing and Republicans still exist even in CA and NY. We're already begginning to see this problem today; the senators who voted for Kavanaugh represent a minority of the country, and despite Dems winning the PV in 2016, and 2018 being a D landslide, it'll take another semi-landslide to flip the senate in 2020. Increased partisanship could make it more or less impossible for the party that aligns with urban voters to ever get a senate majoirty, even if they represent a majoity of the country. Does omething need to be done, and if so, what?

Bolded - The House of Representatives already accounts for the population differences in each state, as California has more representatives in the House than any other state. It would be a redundancy to have the Senate follow the same design, with more senators allocated to the populous states.

Just leave it as it is. Each state has different people, different lifestyles, different customs,  and different beliefs. Some states are more religious, some are more diverse, some have more resources, etc. The senate ensures that the differences in each state will always get some  attention, regardless of population (or lack thereof). And correspondingly, the House ensures that those smaller states donít get too much attention.

When you factor that the Senate doesnít exist on its own, that it exists alongside the House, then you should see that the system is fine as it is.




But why should voters from smaller states get extra protection in the senate and EC, when voters from large states and Urban Cities don't get any extra "protection" I would argue the house doesn't favor cities since usually cities vote 95% D, but rual areas are mostly 70-30 R minus rural districts that have a large minority population. In 2018, even though Dems won the house, it took them a landslide to win, whereas in 2016, Reblicans held more seats but barely won the PV. Literally, in every way, if you're a voter in an urban city, your vote is less powerful than a rural voter. That just seems wrong to me. Look at how the Rs can easily get a trifecta in an R+0 year, but Ds have to win in a landslide. Right now, there's only 2 Rs in objectivley blue states: CO and ME, but Dems have senate seats in WV, MT, AL and OH, alongside most of the seats in tossup states and still don't have a majority in the senate.

The fact that Democrats win 95% of the urban vote (which is only true if you define "urban" as places with New York or San Francisco-type density, there are more Republican votes in urban/suburban areas that rural areas)  isn't a problem with the  House of Representatives, it's a problem with the Democratic Party. 

Why? If you believe in majority rule, it shouldn't matter where those votes are coming from. If Dems were to get 100% of the vote in the 9 most populous states and the GOP got 100% of the vote in the 41 least populous states, the Dems should get to rule.

Besides the absurd notion that to govern, political parties ought to win a majority of arbitrarily drawn states and appeal to their specific voters rather than the nation as a whole, the Senate is problematic because there are too many damn veto points in American government. It leaves us with both a comparatively weak government and a comparatively undemocratic one, and I, at least, see that as a negative.
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« Reply #30 on: April 26, 2020, 11:27:33 PM »

The difficultly with any attempt to reform the Senate is that it has more Constitutional insulation than any other body. Article V states that "No state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate". Any attempt to balance out the Senate population wise (short of redrawing states, which has been suggested in this thread) would be borderline unconstitutional. It could be argued that Article V could be amended to remove that section, but I think that would be pretty radical and legally dubious. I would say such a maneuver would be unconstitutional, given that Article V deals with amendments so the intent was clearly to prevent the states from being deprived equal representation in the Senate. So, just from a legal standpoint, I think Senate reform would be an absolute nightmare that likely would precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Further, it must be remembered that the US is a federal republic, so it balances both the rights of its people and the rights of its constituent parts. Every voter is equal, and they are represented in the House, while every state is equal to any other state. A voter in Wyoming is equal to a voter in California, and the states they live in are in turn equal to one another. Hence, the voter in Texas and the voter in California are represented in the House, while their states are represented in the Senate. If we hand't moved to direct election of senators, this sort of divide would make more sense, and for that reason I think the 17th Amendment was a very poor idea.

I also know it sounds anachronistic now, but we need safeguards to protect the interests of the minority. That doesn't mean that the minority can rule, and in our system the majority will eventually prevail if its support is broad and deep enough, but we can't gut every institutional safeguard against the will of the majority simply because the minority is able to impede the agenda of the majority. The majority is not always on the side of justice or liberty, more often than not I think we can see that the majority is a greater threat to liberty than the minority. When Republicans have majorities in the country, they use the tools of the majority with unscrupulous zeal to pursue their ends, and so too do the Democrats. The beauty of the system is that, whoever is in the minority, has the institutional tools to resist this onslaught.


The idea that the states are equal units is fundamentally bogus. They are heavily out of wack population wise, and they make no sense whatsoever from a community of interest standpoint. The states simply are not equal communities of interest; some states lack a concise community of interest to them whatsoever, while others are a mesh up of many entirely different and fundamentally dissimilar communities of interests thrown together as 1.
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Brother Jonathan
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« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2020, 08:37:48 AM »

The difficultly with any attempt to reform the Senate is that it has more Constitutional insulation than any other body. Article V states that "No state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate". Any attempt to balance out the Senate population wise (short of redrawing states, which has been suggested in this thread) would be borderline unconstitutional. It could be argued that Article V could be amended to remove that section, but I think that would be pretty radical and legally dubious. I would say such a maneuver would be unconstitutional, given that Article V deals with amendments so the intent was clearly to prevent the states from being deprived equal representation in the Senate. So, just from a legal standpoint, I think Senate reform would be an absolute nightmare that likely would precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Further, it must be remembered that the US is a federal republic, so it balances both the rights of its people and the rights of its constituent parts. Every voter is equal, and they are represented in the House, while every state is equal to any other state. A voter in Wyoming is equal to a voter in California, and the states they live in are in turn equal to one another. Hence, the voter in Texas and the voter in California are represented in the House, while their states are represented in the Senate. If we hand't moved to direct election of senators, this sort of divide would make more sense, and for that reason I think the 17th Amendment was a very poor idea.

I also know it sounds anachronistic now, but we need safeguards to protect the interests of the minority. That doesn't mean that the minority can rule, and in our system the majority will eventually prevail if its support is broad and deep enough, but we can't gut every institutional safeguard against the will of the majority simply because the minority is able to impede the agenda of the majority. The majority is not always on the side of justice or liberty, more often than not I think we can see that the majority is a greater threat to liberty than the minority. When Republicans have majorities in the country, they use the tools of the majority with unscrupulous zeal to pursue their ends, and so too do the Democrats. The beauty of the system is that, whoever is in the minority, has the institutional tools to resist this onslaught.


The idea that the states are equal units is fundamentally bogus. They are heavily out of wack population wise, and they make no sense whatsoever from a community of interest standpoint. The states simply are not equal communities of interest; some states lack a concise community of interest to them whatsoever, while others are a mesh up of many entirely different and fundamentally dissimilar communities of interests thrown together as 1.

The linchpin of federalism, however, is that the states do have a certain equality regardless of their population. The Senate was created, in no small part, to counterbalance the influence of the populous states. Again, it goes back to the understanding that the framers had, that the system was one of population/state power balance. It's not about communities of interest, it's about the right of states as political units in a federal system.
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« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2020, 09:50:07 AM »

The Senate should be transformed into something like the German Bundesrat.
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Stockdale for Veep
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« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2020, 04:42:18 PM »

The House can't be truly representative until the cap on membership is removed.
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President Punxsutawney Phil
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« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2020, 04:47:28 PM »

The House can't be truly representative until the cap on membership is removed.
Would you support increasing the size of the House to 650 members, as I have for eons?
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Suburbia
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« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2020, 06:21:53 PM »

we have equal representation of the people in one chamber and equal representation of the states in another. Nothing wrong with that at all.
If your party is incapable of winning a Senate majority, boo hoo. You aren't winning enough rural voters. Try to do that instead.

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« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2020, 09:00:06 PM »

we have equal representation of the people in one chamber and equal representation of the states in another. Nothing wrong with that at all.
If your party is incapable of winning a Senate majority, boo hoo. You aren't winning enough rural voters. Try to do that instead.

If SF had two senators and this swath of states (
) had two, would you tell Republicans that they should just appeal to urban voters?
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« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2020, 09:01:33 PM »

All I'm saying is I never saw calls to abolish/reform the Senate when Nebraska and the Dakotas were collectively sending six Democrats to it, which was during basically all of our conscious lifetimes, mind you.
A system where most people prefer one party and yet the other party holds power is bad. Since Senate results are becoming increasingly detached from popular opinion, the Senate is moving from a dumb anachronism to an actively malicious force in American politics.
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Knives
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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2020, 12:18:40 AM »

The Senate would work better if 3 people were elected every 4 yours, guarantee most states have at least 1 representative of the opposite party.
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President Punxsutawney Phil
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« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2020, 12:25:49 AM »

The Senate would work better if 3 people were elected every 4 yours, guarantee most states have at least 1 representative of the opposite party.
One thing I could see as doing the best job of keeping the Senate's overall arrangement alive while having more than one member elected in an election year would be to classify each state as being one of the 3 classes and all of the states' members are up for election at the same time on one even-numbered election cycle out of 3. But this raises the question of what to do if vacancies occur - it would seem at least somewhat unfair if filling in a seat by one-member special election meant that the minority party of a state went from 1 member out of 3 to 0. It would be much more functional to have the state's party chair name a replacement.
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cris01us
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« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2020, 05:51:39 PM »

It's great to read through everyone's posts.  It reminds me of reading the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, only with a bit of a modern twist, and of course quite a few partisan twists as well.  It's good to know there are intelligent and articulate people out there, on all sides, who are talking about these things, even if there is no change in site.  Keep up the great work.
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ultraviolet
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« Reply #41 on: May 06, 2020, 10:13:09 AM »

This isnít a partisan thing: I just want my vote to count the same as someone in Wyoming and California. That doesnít seem like a lot to ask out of a democracy.
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brucejoel99
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« Reply #42 on: May 06, 2020, 04:08:48 PM »

Step 1. Become Senate Majority Leader;

Step 2. Refuse to seat new Senators until I'm the last one;

Step 3. Retire &, as I leave, look back & remember all the good times I had there before I flip the light switch off as a slightly-out-of-date pop ballad plays;

Step 4. Roll credits.
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cris01us
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« Reply #43 on: May 08, 2020, 02:37:27 PM »

This isnít a partisan thing: I just want my vote to count the same as someone in Wyoming and California. That doesnít seem like a lot to ask out of a democracy.

The point of the Senate is for equal representation regardless of population. The point of the House is for proportional representation.
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Amenhotep Bakari-Sellers
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« Reply #44 on: May 10, 2020, 07:47:37 AM »

The Senate wasnt meant to be have one dominant party and it was made to fit the south since during slavery, the bigger states had more population than Southern states.

That's why Dems must put DC or PR to equalize the playing field
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« Reply #45 on: May 16, 2020, 11:06:45 AM »
« Edited: May 16, 2020, 11:14:45 AM by ProgressiveModerate »

we have equal representation of the people in one chamber and equal representation of the states in another. Nothing wrong with that at all.
If your party is incapable of winning a Senate majority, boo hoo. You aren't winning enough rural voters. Try to do that instead.


Rs don't even have to try to win urban votes. Furthermore, some voters are just impossible to convince without sacrificing your valeus big time. Why should the values of rural voters be heard louder than that of urban voters? You coul have a senate map that looks like https://www.yapms.com/app/?m=1x3f, and the Republican party could impeach a Democrat party, even if it's in the interest of the minority of the country. that's what is so dangerous about this.
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Starry Eyed Jagaloon
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« Reply #46 on: May 16, 2020, 04:26:40 PM »

This isnít a partisan thing: I just want my vote to count the same as someone in Wyoming and California. That doesnít seem like a lot to ask out of a democracy.

The point of the Senate is for equal representation regardless of population. The point of the House is for proportional representation.

Just because that was how it's structured doesn't make it a good system. All legislative bodies should allocate seats based off population, period.
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ultraviolet
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« Reply #47 on: May 18, 2020, 07:58:25 AM »

This isnít a partisan thing: I just want my vote to count the same as someone in Wyoming and California. That doesnít seem like a lot to ask out of a democracy.

The point of the Senate is for equal representation regardless of population. The point of the House is for proportional representation.
But why even have a house with equal representation for all states? It makes zero sense and was only put in place because small states got angry at the convention. Itís not fair and it doesnít do a good job ďrepresentingĒ the country.
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MillennialModerate
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« Reply #48 on: May 18, 2020, 08:48:44 AM »

It in no way should be abolished. I think some of you are forgetting the United STATES of America. It would be one thing if the states were all so similar then yes only population based should be the methods. But a lot do states are different. I think the format of our system is near perfect. If only the execution of late would be as good as it used to be.

Now do I wish more states had a ďswing stateĒ makeup? Yes. I wish Republicans had to fight hard to defend Alabama and Democrats had to fight hard to defend Maryland. I wish it wasnít possible for one party to do what the GOP did with Merrick Garland. But I think the Senate needs to stay
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« Reply #49 on: May 18, 2020, 12:39:10 PM »

The ability to allow states to come together in blocks, in order to have their interest represented was the point.  I think of it in terms of protection for the minority interests, whatever that might be in the given time period.  "Small states" in essence, can band together under a common interest with much more force and capability than they could under a strictly proportional system.  The minority can essentially stop/check the majority (the majority probably has control of the lower chamber), so then the two are forced to compromise or wait until the next election gives one party a majority in both chambers.  Our forefathers didn't exactly aim to make government as efficient or effective as possible for good reasons, mistrust or governmental power being chief among those reasons.  Is it frustrating? Sure.  Does it slow the pace of "progress" - probably.  Does it aim to make two sides compromise, or at least consider each other's positions - I would say it does.  I don't think the founders meant for government to be "the answer" in the way folks of late have framed government.
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