The Leftist Vision for the U.S. Senate
The Constitution has been battered and bruised by progressives for more than a century, but now they can smell blood.
Not only are Democrats pushing to pack the U.S. Supreme Court and seeking to kill the filibuster, but they’re also looking to expand the number of Democrat senators in Congress by giving statehood to Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
This isn’t the first attempt to undermine the Senate.
Beginning in 1781, U.S. senators were elected by their respective stage legislatures. This critical mechanism allowed states to check the power of their representatives and recall those who did not serve the interests of the states and their citizens.
The Senate was designed to be a serious, deliberative body. Political flare-ups and calls for immediate change were to be tempered by leaders who engaged in thoughtful debates.
But in 1913, states ratified the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, resulting in the popular-vote election of senators. Now, senators can ignore the interests of their states and appeal directly to the masses, thwarting the authority and the influence of their own state governments.
As James Madison considers in Federalist 63, “The cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn.”
Today, we have a Senate that preys on the fears and passions of the public and uses them to keep “interested men” in power for decades. Instead of operating in the particular interests of each state, the direct elections of senators created a national body influenced by political factions and interest groups.
But that’s not enough. The Left has long been troubled by the fact that each state has two senators. That was, of course, the Founders’ design to prevent large states from running roughshod over small ones. New York and California cannot dominate Iowa and Vermont in the Senate.
During the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, “delegates from the larger states, especially in the South, wanted Senate seats apportioned according to population,” the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal reminds us. “They were outvoted, as smaller states like New Jersey didn’t want to forfeit their influence in the new federal government the Constitution created. The large states’ size would be reflected in the House of Representatives. This Great Compromise was essential to the Constitution’s ratification.”
The current scheme to expand the number of senators is specifically designed to transform the Senate into an unstoppable Democrat political machine.
The Journal’s editors add, “The enduring influence and legitimacy of America’s legislative upper house has long distinguished the U.S. from many less stable democracies. But a new majoritarian ideology threatens to upend that achievement.”
Make no mistake: This is purely a power grab intended to eliminate any opposition to the Left’s agenda.
Democrats couldn’t care less about giving representation to residents of DC or Puerto Rico. They want to move four steps closer to a filibuster-proof majority.
It’s no wonder the U.S. Senate has been in the crosshairs of Democrats since the 19th century. It was the one political body specifically designed to control ruthless politicians from exercising raw power for their own self-interests.
Now, those power-hungry politicians are prepared to deal a final blow to one of the world’s great institutions.
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