Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of July 18, 2011
Readers write in response to Timothy Rieger's June 20 commentary, "Senate's lopsided power of big states, small states."
Is US Senate lopsided?
Regarding Timothy Rieger's June 20 commentary, "Senate's lopsided power of big states, small states": If the election of senators were still as the Founders intended, I dare say there would be no unfunded mandates coming from Washington, nor legislation demeaning the power of the states. If one views the Senate as representing the states and not the people, which is the purpose of the House of Representatives, there is in fact, equal representation in the Senate.
Mr. Rieger is correct in noting that states with larger populations have proportionately smaller representation in the Senate, but his assertion that this imbalance directly correlates to "vastly greater political power" represents a misunderstanding of the Constitution.
The purpose of the Constitu tion is not to promote democracy. Strictly adhered to, democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where the rights of the minority are subjugated to the will of the majority. The United States is a republic, and it was designed that way to protect every individual's freedoms in what seemed to the Framers the most equitable way possible. If the Senate had the same proportionate representation as the House of Representatives, then smaller states would have hardly any representation at all.
There is, however, a much deeper issue that is worth exploring. As national politics take on a larger role in each individual's life, at the expense of state and local governments, the freedom of the individual decreases. Majority rule is, increasingly, the deciding factor in the laws of our land, and this strips the rights from the minority and actually hurts the rights of the individuals in the majority as well.
Saint Charles, Mo.
Rieger asserts the composition of the Senate is out of balance, given that tiny states with barely half a million residents have the same number of Senate votes as states with tens of millions of residents. It is unlikely, then, that senators or state legislatures from small states would vote for a structural change like the one Rieger proposes. A more plausible goal would be to change the composition of Electoral College votes away from "winner takes all." Nebraska's system awards votes according to the candidate who wins each representative's jurisdiction.
The Senate's equity of state representation is intended by the Framers to deal with the tyranny of numbers. It presents a balance against the House of Representatives, where population already reigns. It prevents a situation where areas with dense population could dictate what happens to the rest of the country.