July 12, 2007

The Stupidest Idea in Years

SO APPARENTLY political commentator Larry Sabato will release a book this fall arguing for more than a score of fundamental changes to the U.S. Constitution. Since the document has worked well for more than two hundred years, the idea that it suddenly needs changing seems a bit much, but Dr Sabato apparently thinks otherwise. However, although such rhetoric tends to sell books, it's pretty clear many of his ideas are non-starters. Particularly his idea regarding fundamental changes to the U.S. Senate, which I do think is the stupidest idea I've heard in years.

The idea, according to Joseph Knippenberg of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, is this:

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Because each state, regardless of population, elects two of the 100 senators, just 17 percent of the nation’s population elects a majority of the Senate. Sabato would expand the Senate by giving the 10 most populous states two additional senators, the next 15 most populous states one new senator and the District of Columbia its first senator.

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Speaking as a resident of a Small State, I believe I speak for all my fellow Small State friends and colleagues when I say: Oh, hell no. The whole idea the Founders had for creating Congress as they did was to prevent Small States (like, say, New Hampshire) from getting picked on by Large States (like, say, New York). Conversely, Large States get bunches of representatives in the House while Small States like New Hampshire get hardly any. This balance is unequivocably fair and just, and just because Large States aren't content with the power they hold doesn't mean they should try taking more from Small States.

Besides, let's look at the states that would get FOUR Senators under Dr Sabato's plan. They are, in order of population: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and New Jersey. I think everyone can agree our system of Government would not be greatly improved through giving these states even more power. I mean, my God. Can you imagine Ohio having FOUR Senators? (If you listen carefully, you can hear my father spewing his morning coffee all over his computer screen).

All that aside, I must say the peculiar case of Texas has always fascinated me. I've never understood why the Texans don't take advantage of their right to form five separate states and thus gain eight net senators as a result. (See the Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States, approved March 1, 1845, which explicitly gives them the right to do this). I mean, for God's sake, it couldn't be that hard to work out the arrangements between the five separate entities, and they could jointly run certain commonly-owned properties, such as the University of Texas system. Plus, you think anyone else would mess with Texas in the Senate if all 10 Senators got together as a bloc? Heck no.

(via Meg McArdle)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 12, 2007 07:14 AM | TrackBack
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