Tuesday, September 26, 2017

America / democracy ?

The newest columnist for the New York Times comes out swinging in a hard-hitting piece on how the structure of US federal governance makes outcomes like a victorious president who lost the popular vote more and more likely. More than the Electoral College is a problem.

Our Constitution has always had a small-state bias, but the effects have become more pronounced as the population discrepancy between the smallest states and the largest states has grown. “Given contemporary demography, a little bit less than 50 percent of the country lives in 40 of the 50 states,” Sanford Levinson, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Texas, told me. “Roughly half the country gets 80 percent of the votes in the Senate, and the other half of the country gets 20 percent.” 

Goldberg articulates the confusion and consternation - likely in coming years to morph into rage - of the underrepresented majority. I've been trying to grapple with how the other side feels - not those who for bad and good reasons feel that their "America" is being displaced - but the politicians who take up their cause, people who have been working tirelessly to ensure that what they know to be a minority should nevertheless stay in power. The way we describe our democracy doesn't make individual voters think they should be voting with the whole nation in mind, as opposed to whatever party or faction or interest group they belong to (alas), but what about those elected to office by system-favored minorities? Have they no sense of responsibility to the common good? By what right do they think their minority should rule? How do they convince themselves a career committed to minority rule is worthy, not to mention worthy of being considered "public service"? I'm having a hard time coming up with anything that's not frightening.

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