Abolish the senate: Yea or nay?

Economic fail.

I wonder how many states would secede if we went to a straight population based representation system. The current setup is pretty well thought out where small states have equal power in one house and far less in the other. It keeps the populous states from having their representatives passing laws that completely screw over smaller states. If it were such a horrible system I’d be surprised if 49 states still used it (Nebraska being unicameral and having only a senate, though it has districting which balances out the population to a degree per senate seat).

Without having done much research, I kinda like the Senate, more than the house, as a reasonably responsive and responsible governing body.

I suspect that even with a 6 year election cycle, the average Senator is more vulnerable to competition, both from the other party and from his/her own party, than the average rep.

I suspect that most voters get more information on Senate races than their local House races. If you live in a big metropolitan area, you may have 5-10 (or more) representatives running for re-election. Since local media are generally focused on metropolitan areas, you’re not going to see a lot of coverage of any one given race. There is generally only a maximum of one or two Senate races in question in an area at a time, meaning more focus. (Two races can occur when both Senate seats in a state come open at the same time for various reasons, or when a metro area straddles a state boundary).

I also like some of the rules of the Senate, such as the super-majority effectively required for many significant actions.

And a smaller overall body (100 Senators) is probably more manageable in many respects - with various benefits.

Zero states would secede.

I think you may have this backwards, but no citation will be provided.

The Senate is a more deliberative body with lots of rules to argue shit out for a long time and make sure it’s not too retarded.

I love you man!

This is why US history/Civics still needs to be taught in high school.

Founding Fathers knew what they were doing.

ElGuapo, note how Ben Sones actually cited the relevant discussion about why the Senate is how it is. Yes, I am aware of the text of the constitution, and it contains very little explanation of why the Senate was created in its current form, or how it’s changed over the years.

Conservatives crack me up.

At the cost of stopping health care and global warming legislation for a decade, at least. I’m sure the dead and drowning are proud of our constitutional system. More seriously, there are tradeoffs here. What are these terrible radical things that were stopped only by the Senate?

Uh, why? How many veto points does the US federal system need?

Phil’s correct about the Senate being more competitive than the house. Re-elect rate for the house here back to the 18th century; Senate here back to 64. However, there’s not much evidence that gerrymandering, as measured through the effects of redistricting, reduces competitiveness. I know, I’m surprised too.

That’s funny, the senators really do have to watch out. 45% turnover in 1980! [EDIT] Oops, Jason beat me on the Google.

I could get behind fewer veto points if it meant it was also easier to revist and eliminate existing bad law, but I’m not sure if the cause and effect are there.

Good point. Citizens didn’t even vote for US senators until 1913, they were elected by state legislatures. That’s how insulated the Senate was meant to be from the whims of the mob.

While I thinking the OP goes a little far, I do think he has a point that imbalanced representation can get a bit absurd. What happens when the ratio is 100-1 or 500-1? A more reasonable compromise would simply be that you cannot have more senators than representatives. Low-population states would still get a senator, and disproportionate representation, but not to the same degree. The only states effected would be Alaska, N/S Dakota, Delaware, Vermont, Montana, and Wyoming.

“Only” 14% of states?

The senate sucks. The logic of the compromise that lead to the senate probably made sense at the time but right now it just means that the Senate is effectively gerrymandered by default with no hope of ever cleaning up.

Also let’s not confuse arguments about term limits with arguments about representation. It’d be one thing if California were, say, two or three times as big as Wyoming, but 68 times? Wyoming really needs equal representation in the federal government? I don’t think so. If you had gerrymandering that bad at a local level you’d be outraged.

Part of the problem with the compromise is that things go through the House and the Senate anyway. So basically it just means that everything has to go through this unrepresentative body anyway. It’s not like some of our federal business is purely representative and only what’s left goes through this awkward, non-representative system. So basically it ends up not being much of a compromise at all. The small states won.

This is stupid. One representative body and one catchall body. Bicameral legislature. Those founding fathers sure were some smart cookies.

More seriously though, how many votes should I get for my slaves? I mean, they’re not people, but I should be able to make myself more important by counting them, so what should we do with that one?

Yeah, I was going to mention this. Not all the decisions that our founding fathers made are perfect or sacred and we should remember what the other, long-ago discarded, compromise was. I think the senate is one of their worst decisions. No matter what the history of the compromise is, it’s just really hard to justify giving an equal federal weight to a group with 0.16% of its population as given to a group with 11% of its population.

If California thought it was being short-changed on the national level, it could presumably split itself up into two or more parts. For Texas, I think the option is more explicit.

The big states show no particular inclination to do so. I think the relative losses they sustain via the Senate structure are somewhat offset by benefits in other ways from being a big state (including in the presidential race).

Continuing that thought, if we’re talking about completely unrealistic overhauls of our national government, I’d rather get rid of the electoral college first.

I think that, strategically, it makes sense for California to split up. I think that gaming the (poorly constructed) system like this just isn’t really practical and there are a lot of infrastructure road-blocks and such in the way. It’s definitely interesting though that if California (or any other state) split up into 60 sub-states it would control the senate (and if California did this, none of the substates would the be smallest state in the Union). Interesting in the sense that it demonstrates how unwieldy and easily gamed the system is. Again, it’s basically just a system that is gerrymandered by default. The only way to “fix” it would be to have every state split up into Wyoming-sized subchunks.

California’s “benefits” in the presidential race, by the way, is that it is more than 1/10th of the US’s population. That’s it. That’s how democracies work.

That’s another poor decision made by our founding fathers. While it had a lot of relevance in 2000, however, it has probably affected our federal government far less than the makeup of the senate being heavily skewed towards smaller states.

Well, I don’t think the system is THAT easily gamed, or else someone would have already gamed it.

The benefit of particularly large states in the electoral college system is that they represent a voting block. Not just 55 out of the 538 electors, but 55 electors who will almost certainly (IIUC) vote as a unanimous block. To extrapolate, if CA even got big enough, population-wise, to control 51% of the electoral college, then it would effectively shut out the other states altogether. Not that I think this is likely, but rather, it illustrates how scale CAN matter with the electoral college system. FWIW, with CA as a pretty solidly blue state for the time being, this is sort of a moot point. But if CA were a swing state like Ohio, then close presidential elections would boil down to largely a battle for CA.

Anyways, I don’t particularly think CA is being significantly shortchanged, overall, in its impact on the nation (including in realms only loosely tied to politics). Perhaps that’s a worthy spin-off topic if anyone really wants to start it, but I don’t, at the moment.

Re: The founding fathers and such…

I don’t think one can realistically argue that they were perfect or even near perfect, in their decisions, as a group or as individuals (feel free to bring up the slave holdings of several of them).

Rather, they did a pretty good job relatively (compare to France, a few years later), and the overall document holds up well. The worst of it’s errors (slavery, lack of suffrage for women) have been fixed. While most folks could go through the document (as amended) and find, say, 20% of it that they disagree with or would like to see changed, I don’t think there would be wide agreement on WHICH 20%. i.e. Everyone can nitpick on some points, but not necessarily on the same points.

I’ll take a constitution that is about 80% right, but has a ~222 year history and is widely respected by the public, over some newly written (or frequently rewritten document) that might be 85% right for me, but has less history and less broad support.

Didn’t someone recently bring up the case of Weimar Germany? I don’t know the ins and outs of the Weimar constitution, but I suspect that the downfall of the Weimar Republic was more likely attributable to the novelty of the document and the system, and probably the lack of broad support (which old documents tend to build), than to whatever flaws the document itself had.