Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Senate can be very weird


Quiddity on uggabugga gives us a brief graphical demonstration of how un-democratic (with a small 'd') the Senate can be:
Under a worse case scenario, Senators from the 21 least-populous states could block legislation. How many people are in those 21 states?

If you look at the List of U.S. states by population, we find that out of a total of 300 million for the country, there are 37 million in the 21 least-populous states. That amounts to 12.4% of the population, or one in eight. [...]

Taking this further, it's possible that in each of the 21 least-populous states, the senator was elected with a vote of 50% +1. Effectively half the population of each state. So it could take as little as 18 milliion people to elect enough senators to stop action on a particular bill. That's one in 16 people. And that explains, in part, how anti-democratic (and pro-plutocratic) the Senate can be.
Of course, the House, with its "majority can do anything it wants" rules, can be problematic in its own way.

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