McConnell May Be Right After All?

If you want to turn the clock back 100 years

Politically-oriented people with outstanding foresight (obviously not including me!) apparently have been playing ‘the long game’ in tinkering with one of the biggest threats to representative democracy: population trends that are eroding the fair and equitable representational dimension of the democratic formula.

The constitutional dictate of two Senators from every state, regardless of population, today gives 16% of the population half the country’s Senate seats, and thus NOW effective control of five of nine Supreme Court seats. [By the way remember that there were far fewer States when that rule was adopted. And, when new States were added this issue was not yet fully visible.]

The likely effect will be further radical changes in the ‘law’ as it applies to women’s rights over their bodies, the independence of a President from interference by the Congress and broadly giving the President more singular authority and power than was ever envisioned by the founding fathers.

What is happening – and will continue unless soon checked at the ballot box – is that a minority of the voters in America are gaining effective control over a significant majority by using the Senate’s very different election process (designed at that time to protect the less populous states from the “mob rule” in the House of Representatives and get them to support the Constitution.).

Because the Senate also has the singular power to confirm the Federal judiciary, that dichotomy in representation extends to the Supreme Court which, as a result, is moving backwards in time to a very different world with regard to powers of the Presidency and rights of individuals.

Moreover, it threatens to thwart the careful balance of power the Constitution envisioned between the three branches. Instead of truly co-equal partners in a democracy, we now face an authoritarian-inclined President enabled by a lapdog Senate, which is itself impeding the Constitutional functions the Founders envisioned for the judiciary. Disproportionate representation of the overall population in the Senate makes this distortion possible – even potentially calamitous.

The ability to foresee this radical shift from majority rule to minority rule was a genius stroke by the Republicans [from their point of view] and largely ignored by the Democrats who blithely proceeded in the belief that control of any one chamber of Congress –such as the House which has the singular power of the purse–was sufficient to protect overall national interests.

Then came the completely unexpected election of a rogue President who only collected some 3 million fewer votes than his opponent – demonstrating also that the Electoral College is infected by the same disease as the Senate issue in undermining/under-counting representative democracy.

What this boils down to is that the Constitutional formula and model, designed with the politics of 1800 in mind, is simply now  working in reverse today and is undercutting the basic cornerstone of democracy which is overall majority rule. Instead of a check on a tyrannical majority, the two-Senators per state rule now enable a tyrannical minority to control not only its own actions, but those of the judiciary.

It also should come as no surprise that slavery, which still lies at the roots of our Constitutional distortions, continues to haunt us in unexpected ways. For example, the classic racism perversely aroused by Obama’s successful election to the Presidency also is no doubt contributing to today’s new dysfunctions.

Just as the compromises of 1787 merely forestalled the horrors of the Civil War, if we as a nation do not firmly address this basic problem at the ballot box, and soon, we may once again soon face a nation perilously divided and risking a very angry population.

The very roots of our democracy are at stake!

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