Should We Still Be Calling America a Democracy?

Written by Leonard   
Thursday, 04 June 2020 11:11

The basic definition of a democracy is “government by the people, especially, rule of the majority” [1].  It’s hard to imagine that today, the current US form of governance could even be called a democratic- republic.  While the US is governed by an elected body of representatives, one would think that to be called a democratic-republic, the elected representation should somehow at least reflect the majority of the population.  However, the 22 American states with the lowest populations (5 Blue, 16 Red & 1 Ind.) have a total of ~40M people.  California, a single state, also has a population of ~40M.  However, California, by some antiquated rules, is still only entitled to just two senators, while the 22 smaller states are awarded a total of 44 senators.  It is difficult to see how this inequity could ever come close to meeting the standard of democracy’s one person one vote or rule by the majority. The number of Senators per state (2 independent of population) is also one of the components in the determination of Presidential Electors per state used in the US national election of the President. This is the only US election, at any level of governance, that does not use election by the majority of voters.  It is difficult to understand how states were formed with such an imbalance in populations.

The current advantage in US Senate representation for the Republican party is created by the large number of small Red states (which many Americans believe should be combined in some manner to form a number of single states with much larger populations). This current undemocratic representation is allowing Senate Leader McConnell to autocratically appoint judges, block any proposed legislation from the House of Representatives and protect the President from any oversight or even the recent impeachment proceedings.

The first Constitutional Convention approved an Electoral College plan on September 6, 1787, as mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and applicable laws. In the first census, the population of the United States was listed to be 3,929,214 [3]. Given that only nine of the thirteen existing states ratified the Constitution in 1789 (others did later) and the total population was about 1% of the current US population, maybe after 231 years a move towards a more democratic union is in order.  Unfortunately, examination of the Constitutionally defined ratification process for Amendments, although it has worked in the past, is another process no longer close to a one-person-one-vote process but gives one vote to each State independent of population.  So, California’s 40M people have the same one vote as Wyoming’s 579 thousand population (a ratio of about 70:1).

Should California’s 40M population be broken into 6 or maybe 10 states and therefore obtain 10-18 more US Senators?  Or should we combine Idaho, Montana & Wyoming (3.433M total population) and North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska (3,581M total population) into single states? That would reduce the number of US Senators by eight (all Republican I believe) but bring US governance closer to the goal of a 1-vote-1-person democracy.

Here are just a few recent items that would not have occurred under a more democratic population based representation.  The list could be much longer:

While most Americans still want to believe they have a great democracy but for the last three and one-half years Trump and the Republican Party Congressional membership certainly didn’t behave like one.  America still has a chance...but it has to first Dump Trump in 2020 and then fix its election processes and balance its representative governance.




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