With the virtual blockade of the Senate by Republicans and their unabashed hostage taking, democracy in the United States has finally come to an end.

Constituted as a body based on state representation, the Senate remains today one of the least proportionately representative legislative bodies in the Western world.

The Republican Party has effectively eliminated majority rule by its occupation of the Senate and its insistence that only legislation that supports the right wing minority agenda be open to discussion. By tyrannically abusing a quirky rule regarding filibuster, the GOP has effectively seized control of the Senate and turned it into a body that represents a tiny minority of the people.

In reality the Senate has been an undemocratic institution since its creation by the US Constitution in 1787. Representation in the Senate accrues by states, each state having two representatives and not by population. And therein lays the great flaw of that once estimable body.

During the Constitutional Convention, the small states feared that proportional representation would result in domination of the new government by the large states and a roadblock ensued. To break the log jam the delegates devised a supposedly ingenious solution. Called the Connecticut Compromise the device established the Senate as it exists today – an undemocratic body with representation that ignores the distribution of the population.

The proceedings at the Convention have been referred to as “the miracle in Philadelphia.” Well, some miracle. Right out of the gate the Constitution was a mix of compromises that all but ended any notion of democratic government. In addition to the establishment of a flawed legislature, the delegates granted the franchise only to white propertied males – an action attributed to widespread fear of the small people by the wealthy minority. Moreover, to assuage the objections of the Southern states fearing domination by the North, slaves were granted the status of three fifths of a human being for representational purposes in the House of Representatives.

Of course, the delegates to the Convention were captive of their times and the document they created reflected the views of the era in which they lived. Nevertheless the Constitution they handed down was greatly flawed and the delegates decidedly lacked what has come to be called the “vision thing.”

To compound the error of disproportional representation in the Senate, the delegates granted to state legislatures the power to elect senators removing the people even further from the process of democracy. With the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 senators were elected by popular vote and some observers believed at the time that this process would render the Senate a more democratic body.

It was not to be however. Today we find as always each state has two representatives regardless of population. Thus the people of the state of Wyoming with a population of 530,000 enjoy equal representation with the 37,000,000 people who live in California – a decidedly undemocratic imbalance.

To make matters worse the Republican Party – now dominated by the extreme right wing – has exploited the despotic filibuster rule and usurped even more power for the small states. Virtually nothing moves through the Senate without the approval of the tyrannical GOP minority. The filibuster – intended to protect the rights of the minority – has given way to absolute rule by the minority and one that protects the interests of the tiniest of minorities.

Read the article at The Smirking Chimp.

How Senate leaves masses in the lurch | The Smirking Chimp


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