Sunday, March 26, 2017

We The People Vs. We The Maps

We the People is the way our Constitution begins.  That document describes the rules and outlines of a new nation, and it begins not with geography, or money, or descriptions of purple mountain majesties or rivers, but with the people. 

A government of the people, by the people for the people, Lincoln said, as he formulated the reasons for the second American Revolution which was the Civil War. 

But, of course, Hamilton, Jefferson and Washington and enough of the founding fathers, those 18th century men in whigs and silk stockings were afraid of "the people" so they constructed a country of states with borders and the government embodied land, borders, states as players just as important, more important than the people. 

Looking at the 2016 census, you can group the states in different ways, but there seem to be several distinct categories:

1.  States of roughly 20 million or more souls:California (39 m), Texas (27 m), Florida (20 m) New York (19m). These are the Huge States. (4 states)

2. States of 8-13 million:  Pennsylvania (13 m), Illinois(13m), Ohio (11m), Georgia (10m), North Carolina (10m), Michigan (10m), New Jersey (9m), Virginia (8m). These are the Big 8 States. (8 states)

3. States of 4-7 million: Washington (7m),Arizona (7 m),Massachusetts (7 m), Tennessee (6m), Indiana (6m), Missouri (6m), Maryland (6m), Wisconsin (6m), Colorado (6m), Minnesota (6m), South Carolina (5m), Alabama (5m), Louisiana (5m), Kentucky (4m), Oregon (4m), Oklahoma (4) Connecticut (3.5m)  These are Middleweight States.  (17 states)

4. States of roughly 3 million: Iowa(3m), Utah (3m), Mississippi (3m), Arkansas (3m), Nevada (3 m) Kansas (3m), New Mexico (2m), Nebraska (2m), West Virginia (2m) These are the Lightweight States. (9 states)

5. States of less than 2 million: Idaho, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming. These are the Mini States. (12 states)

2016 vote by population

All these states get about one Representative in the House per 700,000 population. But in the United States Senate, Barbara Boxer represents 18 million voters where Bernie Sanders represents 312 thousand voters. 
2016 vote by counties

Until the 2016 election, half of the biggest group (Middleweight) states were liberal, blue states, but that fell to 1/3 with the election of Trump. Of the Huge states, half are liberal, half conservative. Of the Big 8 States, only 2 are consistently liberal, the other 2/3 flip back and forth. Of the lightweight states only one (New Mexico) is liberal. Of the dozen Mini States, 1/3 are reliably liberal.

Of the 21 states in the Lightweight and Mini divisions only 4 are reliably liberal (New Mexico, Hawaii, Delaware and Vermont.) 
The End Result of Disproportionate Political Power

If the Senate were reconstructed to reflect population, then 17 states which now exert disproportionate power would enjoy only a power proportionate to their people.  These 17 states now stand in the way of a single payer/government option for health care, a Supreme Court which lives in the 21st as opposed to the 18th century, a robust environmental protection agency, the development of wind and solar power on a scale which could connect nearly every American home to the grid without increasing CO2, the resurgence of labor unions and any hope for a fair break for the middle class, free college tuition at reliable not for profit state universities, a tax code with is friendly to the middle class and which asks more from those to whom much has been given, and a huge new infrastructure program could be undertaken which would provide full employment for generations. 

If the Supreme Court were composed of 9 voting justices, the 9 most recently appointed, with 2 new justices appointed by the President with each Presidential term, then progress on a multitude of fronts would be possible.

But that is not the America we have. We are still living with the distrust of We The People which we inherited from some men who were slave owners and from some who simply distrusted the rifraff. 



  1. Mad Dog,
    This is an interesting and informative breakdown of the states based on population-hopefully there won't be a quiz to follow..Can't say I agree with the premise that realigning the Senate representation based on population would yield the functional, liberal utopia you so enthusiastically describe. The House representation is already based on population and lord knows we haven't seen that there. Plus those bewigged forefathers with the silk stockings sure knew how to make a system stick-we won't be seeing any changes-the mini states wouldn't be the only ones calling foul. The 26 middle and light weight states would not willingly yield their power to behemoths like New York, California and Texas-the political legacy of our founding fathers has quite a shelf life..

    As for your SCOTUS revamp-my opposition remains the same--your plan appears to magnify the biggest flaw in the SCOTUS system. You'd be making an already distressingly political body even more political...

  2. Maud,
    To your second point: At least we'd openly admit it is political and take the step to limit the effect of that political nature by allowing it to change with the times. Right now we have a court stuck in the 18th century for the next 40 years.
    Yes, for your first point. As I broke it down, I realized, hmmm, there is a pretty good mix of liberal and conservative in the various groups, until you get to the smaller states, which are disproportionately benefited, but it's a flaw which need not be a fatal flaw. After all, it gave us Bernie Sanders.
    I do agree, and I suppose that's the big point--we are still living with what these founding fathers gave us.
    Mad Dog