Something historic happened yesterday. Thanks to the interim Senate appointment of William ‘Mo’ Cowan in Massachusetts the United States Senate will for the first time ever have two African-Americans serving together, but only for a few months. This will bring African-American representation in the Senate to a historic 2 percent, even though they make up over 12 percent of the population.
This is another reminder of why the Senate is such a terrible institution. Not only is it governed by truly idiotic rules that cripple the federal government’s ability to function. It is also the most malapportioned legislative chamber in the entire ‘democratic’ world. The Senate vote of someone in Wyoming is worth 66 times more than that of a Californian. An imbalance of power so absurd that if it existed in any other country they would probably lose their ability to claim to be a democracy.
Since the low population states that hold disproportionate sway in the Senate are overwhelming white (Vermont, North Dakota, Idaho, Maine, Wyoming, etc…) it effectively guarantees that the United States Senate will never come even close to resembling the country’s population. Barring the systematic relocation of tens of millions of Americans, the design of the Senate assures African-Americans will forever be dramatically underrepresented in their government.
The Senate should be a source of national shame. The fact that it isn’t proves that any injustice allowed to exist long enough will not only be defended in the name of “tradition” but will actually be celebrated.
Photo by Phil Roeder under Creative Commons license