Fixing Democracy

I ran across this article in The Atlantic by Simon Barnicle about the ways we could fix the issues facing our country with regards to the current state of our democracy.

Barnicle writes:

“Two of the past three presidents received fewer votes than their opponent. In 2017, most legislation passed by the Senate was supported by senators representing only a minority of the population. And after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, all five of the conservative Supreme Court justices—a majority of the Court—have been appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, supported by a group of senators who received fewer votes than the opposing senators, or both.”

This should certainly grab one’s attention. This isn’t how democracy is supposed to work. He continues:

“Due to an advantageous distribution of voters in the right states, the Republican Party has repeatedly been able to control the federal government despite a lack of popular support. In 2016, for example, Republicans failed to win a majority of votes cast for the House, Senate, or the presidency, yet nonetheless secured control of all three.”

The rest of the article goes on to discuss a fix called the 53-state solution (making Puerto Rico and D.C. into states of their own) that would work best to ensure there would be more fair representation because they are more likely Democrat than Republican. Additionally, the article claims that it would reduce the likelihood of retaliation should Republicans regain control in the future.

It’s an interesting proposal, and certainly something has to be done. The current state of our “democracy” is appalling at best. Ultimately, we need an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ascribe representation more fairly across the states to ensure that gerrymandering cannot take place for either side. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a monumental effort, but it’s certainly something that we should consider as a solution alongside some of the proposals from Barnicle.

Another suggestion in the article is breaking states up into smaller states. Barnicle writes:

“A third option is simply to break an existing Democratic state into multiple states. This would require permission from the state being broken, but perhaps one state—or several—would be enticed by the prospect of increasing its representation in Congress, and changing the balance of power in the federal government.”

I actually like this idea. I think it’s interesting, and is easily achieved assuming we win the 2020 presidential election and pick up some Senate seats. We have to fight like hell to do so.

Further, Barnicle writes:

“Republicans would, of course, cry foul, and accuse Democrats of manipulating the statehood process for partisan purposes. But that’s par for the course: American statehood has always been intensely political.”

We have to get to a point, as Democrats, where we leave this entirely out of the equation. Whatever we do, the Republicans are going to cry foul, and they’re going to accuse us of everything from partisan politics to treason. So forget what they’re going to say, they’re going to say it regardless.

I love this article, and Barnicle outlines his case well. It’s worth contemplating at least.