The Senate

No matter what happens, In 2008 we will elect a sitting Senator to be president for just the third time in U.S. history. Apropos of this, the Contrarian and I were going back and forth over email about how much we hate the U.S. Senate as an institution.

There have been movements periodically in U.S. history to abolish the Senate, and I think they’re worthwhile. We all know that it’s an incredibly undemocratic institution, where tiny states wield disporportionate power. But what I didn’t fully appreciate until I ran the numbers, was how this disproportion has changed over time.

In 1790, the population of the largest state, Virginia, was about 13 times the size of the smallest state, Delaware (and Virginia’s numbers are even inflated because of the large percentage of slaves, remember). Today, the largest state (California) is 70 times the size of the smallest state, Wyoming.

In other words, the Senate has gotten vastly more undemocratic over time, and will probably get increasingly so, as the populations of states like Texas and California continue to grow.