“our present situation is not a natural one.”
Many want to change to the popular vote to elect a president as HRC the loser in the election received more popular votes than the election winner and lost in the Electoral College. There are activities going on today with regard to the EC and how it’s vote will be determined in the future. The EC vote is being driven by the numbers of Congressional Representatives in each state plus the Senators. Since the number of House Representatives has been frozen at 435, the bias in power and representation has been slowly shifting to lower population and/or small states.
City Limits Org. quotes David Birdsell on the bias we are experiencing in our government. “ By 2040, 70 percent of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, which are also home to the overwhelming majority of the 30 largest cities in the country. By extension, 30 percent of Americans will live in the other 35 states. Bluntly meaning, 70 percent of Americans will be represented by 30 Senators and 30 percent of Americans represented by 70 Senators.”
I could not find the direct article to support the 70% of the population living in 15 states by 2040 other than the quote on City Limits Org. I was able to construct my own Excel spreadsheet using 2016 numbers off of Wikipedia – U.S. states and territories by population.
Using the Wikipedia numbers, I found 66% of the US population resides in the 15 largest states. If population continues to grow at its present rate, I would think we would be at 70% of the population in 15 states well before 2040. Well so what, what does this mean (redundant alert)? 66% of the United States population living in 15 states are represented by 30 Senators and the other 34% of the population in 35 states are represented by 70 Senators. In the Senate, ~ two thirds of the population in the US is underrepresented in the Senate by design. Nothing is going to change this dynamic, as the Senate was established by the framers of the constitution to give equal representation by state. In other words, we are stuck with the present Senate representation by state. Article V states:
“> . . . Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”
Forget the Senate for now and let us look at the nation’s representation in another way. Contrary to the Senate, the numbers of Representatives in the House for each state is determined by a state’s population. From the House representation, an electoral college vote is determine from each congressional district. In the past, the House grew in size based upon a state’s population until 1910 when Congress froze the number of Representatives at 435. Every 10 years after a census, the numbers of Representatives per state are determined. Michigan has lost Representatives and California has gained Representatives. Every state gets at least one Representative regardless of population. EC vote(s) based upon Congressional Representatives plus the two Senators.
Remember the hoopla about the extra 2 million votes in California, what does this mean? It does not mean a damn thing as there were no EC votes to cover the additional population votes in California were most of the votes occurred. California’s EC votes are established at 53 so California did not get any additional EC votes to cast for HRC. Hence HRC lost the national election due to EC votes. California is vastly underrepresented in the House when its population and representation is compared to that of Wyoming. Using the chart above, California’s representation can be compared with Wyoming’s representation.
Wyoming at 586,000 constituents has the smallest congressional district with 1 House Representative (see Excel Spreadsheet). California has a population of 39,140,000 and 53 Representatives. If we were to equalize California with Wyoming, the number of Representatives for California would be 67 or 14 more than today. Congress froze the number of Representatives at 435 in 1910 with one brief exception. There is also no limit to the number of people in a Congressional District (see Montana on the Excel Speadsheet). From California alone, HRC could have had 14 additional EC votes if House Representation was corrected; but, the larger issue is not the EC vote. You could change to a popular vote for the Pres; but so what, California would still be underrepresented in the House. You elect a Pres by popular vote and lose in the House as it is biased to small states today due to an unlimited size for Congressional Districts and a lock on numbers of Reps.
Besides just the one Representative, Wyoming is also represented by two Senators the same as California. California is underrepresented in the House by 14 Representatives and also having two Senators if we only look solely at population as the determining factor. As I explained earlier, the Senate is not determined by population and it is two Senators/state regardless of population. To be redundant, this arrangement was purposely done with one Legislative Branch being determined by population and the other legislative branch having equal state representation regardless of population. It balanced the power between small and large states. More on this later.
The framers never intended for Congressional Districts to be at a size of 586,000 (Wyoming) or larger. Wyoming at 586,000 citizens in its one District is the smallest congressional district and Montana at over 1 million is the largest. If you are truly worried about how citizens are represented in voting and in the House, then make the population per Representative lower. More Congressional districts with less population per district drives the number of EC Electors assigned to each state, equalizes representation for each state, allows a Rep to concentrate on a smaller number of citizens and their interests, makes it resistant to special interests, minimizes the impact of large voting blocs, and also decreases the chance of gerrymandering. The framers never intended to limit the House to 435 Representatives or have large Congressional Districts.
What was the intent of the early framers of the Constitution?” The bill passed by the House in 1789: required there be at least one Representative for every 50,000 people. At the current population level of approximately (now greater) 300 million people, that formulation would require a minimum of 6,000 congressional districts and representatives. Thirty-Thousand Org. would also argue there is no need for Representatives to be in Washington DC. They could be at regional centers, in their own state capitals, or districts using WebEx, etc. to meet nationally. Things have changed a bit since 1789 making participation far easier and from greater distances.
Lets step aside from the House for now and look at the dysfunctionality of the Senate. Ezra Klein WP article discusses Emmet Bondurant thoughts “ Is the Filibuster Unconstitutional?”
In 1806 Aaron Burr recommended “the previous question” motion (call for a vote or end debate) be discontinued as senators were gentlemen and knew when to end debate and when to move on to the next question. The motion was rarely used. Of course, that was then and today is today. So what happened? The “the previous question” motion was eliminated and being gentlemen in the Senate went with it. Up to the year 1900 there were 16 filibusters. Between 2009 and 2010 there were 130 filibusters as Republicans blocked anything put forth by the Obama led Democrats. And today, “60 votes or a supermajority are required for just about everything to pass in the Senate” (Harry Reid).
A Senate procedure rule calling for a super majority never came to pass and it was frowned upon by the framers.”The framers debated requiring a supermajority to pass anything in Congress; but, the idea was rejected.”
– Alexander Hamilton attacked the idea of a supermajority Congress (Federal 22); “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, destroy the energy of government, and substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.” Sound familiar?
– James Madison (Federal 58) denounced the concept; “In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. No longer would the majority rule and the power would transfer to the minority.”
However, “‘prescribed in the Constitution are six instances in which Congress would require more than a majority vote: impeaching the president, expelling members, overriding a presidential veto of a bill or order, ratifying treaties and amending the Constitution.’ In Ezra Klein’s WP piece, Emmet Bondurant continues, ‘The Framers were aware of the established rule of construction, expressio unius est exclusio alterius, and by adopting these six exceptions to the principle of majority rule; they were excluding other exceptions.’ In the Bill of Rights, the Founders were careful to state that ‘the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.’”
In the beginning, seven of the 13 states representing 27 percent of the population could have a majority in the Senate. Today, 21 states representing 36 million constituents or 11.45% of the population can stop a Senate majority.” The supermajority vote as a requirement to break a filibuster ‘upsets the Great Compromise’s the balance between large states and small states.’”
One defender of the filibuster while on the Senate floor (Reid) apologized to all the reformers he had stymied over the years.
‘The rest of us were wrong,’ he said. ‘If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it’s the filibuster rule, because it’s been abused, abused and abused.’”
No doubt we have seen how the super majority vote was used to block healthcare legislation, any form of healthcare provision, and any movement to rein in the rising cost of its component and application. Requiring a supermajority vote leaves the Senate open to the influence of special interests as was seen in the Senator from Aetna, Joe Libermann’s, stance blocking an effort to add an amendment to the ACA for a Public Option, which would have competed in the healthcare exchanges.
“‘if the bill remains what it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage.’ In other words, Lieberman will support a filibuster. ‘I can’t see a way in which I could vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated-run insurance company,'” Lieberman was telling the nation’s constituents, I do not care about your needs.
The filibuster gives power to a minority of states to block what a legitimate majority would vote for in the Senate.
Other than a president who has trouble putting a sentence together, our government is being blocked from functioning in a manner the framers never planned it to be two issues.
– No longer does the House represent by the population of each state. With the growing population and the movement of the population, The House has not adjusted and it has slid to a small state bias. It does not function as the framers intended. If the 435 law was eliminated and the House adjusted to what the lowest population state had for representation, the House would begin to represent by population. Even then the congressional districts would be too big.
– I included a “what-if” segment in the Excel spread sheet of limiting Congressional Districts to 120,000. It does not change political interests. It does eliminate gerrymandering, increase the interest of Reps in their constituents, minimize state voting blocs, and reduces the power of special interests.
– With its supermajority vote in the Senate used today, the power has shifted from the majority to a minority of states. The framers never intended there be a supermajority vote in the Senate other than the six instances. Every other reason to require a supermajority is unconstitutional. The abolishment of the Senate Holds (which can be done anonymously) would also reduce and individual senator’s power over the proceedings of the Senate.
HRC would have received more EC votes if the House was apportioned properly by population and if the EC votes were awarded and proportioned by the popular vote in each state. HRC would have won.