Friday, September 19, 2008

And a pony

If we're going to consider imaginary amendments to the US Constitution that radically change the politics of the nation, I'd argue strongly for the abolition of the Senate instead of abolishing the electoral college. First off, without the Senate seats the electoral college is far less problematic, and the Senate is a pretty despicable institution in its own right. Every progressive policy dies in the Senate three times before it becomes law. Were it not for the Senate, the US could have had Civil Rights laws in the 20s and universal health care in the 40s.

1 comment:

Gar Lipow said...

Even in fantasy abolishing the Senate is about 100 times more difficult than abolishing the electoral college. Article V of the Constitution contains the provision ‘that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.’ So you need 100% of states to vote for abolition to get rid of it.

In contrast not only could the electoral college be eliminated through the normal (tough) constitutional process. It could be eliminated in practice by enough states signing on to a deal that is already out there where certain states agree to give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote on condition that enough other states sign up for that to constitute a majority. Several big states already have signed on to this. So on the one hand abolishing the Senate requires unanimous consent. Abolishing the electoral college in practice requires only concurrent passage of legislation by states having a majority of electoral votes, which is already well advanced.