Well, if each of every state's two senators is taken to represent half that state's population, then the Senate's fifty-five Republicans represent 131 million people, while its forty-four Democrats represent 161 million. Looked at another way, the present Senate is the product of three elections, those of 2000, 2002, and 2004. [That's because one-third of the Senate faces re-election every two years.] In those elections, the total vote for Democratic senatorial candidates, winning and losing, was 99.7 million; for Republicans it was 97.3 million. The forty-four person Senate Democratic minority, therefore, represents a two-million-plus popular majority—a circumstance that, unless acres trump people, is at variance with common-sense notions of democracy. So Democrats, as democrats, need not feel too terribly guilty about engaging in a spot of filibustering from time to time.
It's a clever argument—the antidemocratic nature of Senate representation creates a phony Republican majority that Democrats are justified in thwarting. But the perfect is the enemy of the good. The Senate ought to be eliminated, but it's a pretty good bet that it isn't going to be. That being the case, why not reach for the low-hanging fruit? I feel confident that if the Democrats had a Senate majority, Hertzberg would agree with me that it's time to democratize the Senate as best we know how.
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