Lawrence O'Donnell: "The United States Senate Is An Unfixable Crime Against Democracy"

Oct 25, 2017
1,931
Saw this video posted in PoliERA and I believe it deserves more attention and discussion, since I do feel the Senate is a huge issue in the fairness of United States politics that isn't talked about nearly enough, and nothing can possibly change until we begin to discuss it at the very least:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4UTW9_1VoQ

There were some particular replies that pointed out the sheer size of the discrepancies, that illustrated just how undemocratic the Senate currently is (and how it will only get worse in time) that I'm going to relay here, as they really lay the issues bare and more plainly than I possibly could:
I was thinking along similar lines and was curious what the numbers looked like (if states had split senators, I gave each senator half the state's population).

Nearly 38 million more Americans are represented by senators that voted AGAINST Kavanaugh. And of course, nearly 3 million more Americans voted AGAINST the president that nominated Kavanaugh.
I think the projection is that by 2040, 70% of the US population will be in 15 states, and thus be represented by only 30% of the Senate.
That's just insanity to me.

And of course, this was my own reply:
Yeah, I've made no secret of the fact that I hate the Senate and wish we could do something, but I'm not sure what. Since the complete abolishment, or even restructuring of the Seante, in requiring a Constitutional Amendment to do so, also requires the Senate's consent to go along with any such ideas, and they will not give that easily, limiting options rather severely.

Something certainly has to be done. Such as adding more states, like Puerto Rico, DC, US Virgin Islands, etc. But that's both something that should be done regardless and is only a temporary reprieve at best, if even that, as the fundamental underpinning issues remain, and I'm not sure what can be done about that.

The Senate definitely needs to be changed. It can't remain in its current form, if the United States is to have anything resembling a healthy democracy. But I have no idea how to go about that.

All the same though, it's good to see people like O'Donnell talking about it as everything starts there and nothing can happen if people aren't at the very least having the conversations. I just have no idea what the answers actually are.
As I said there, I have no clue what the answer is because so much as reforming the Senate to make it more democratic would nonetheless require a Constitutional Amendment and thus also at least 2/3 of the Senate voting in favor, which is something I can't possibly see happening.

At the same time though, nothing at all can possibly happen until we at least start discussing and thinking about stuff like this, and thus O'Donnell making that video, and thus me making this thread. Because while neither one of us seems to have the answers, the status quo carrying on is definitely not acceptable either and we need to think of something, some way of doing it better and fixing things, and that doesn't start until we start having conversations like this.
 

TheYanger

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
5,711
The problem is the country was never supposed to support population centers being like they are. The difference between the house and the senate was designed to let the 'little guy' still have a voice, but it's gone so far the other way that now it consists of the 'little guy' speaking literally 10:1 for the rest of the country.
 

Xando

Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,956
As those states will never vote to strip themselves of power there is only one way to fix the broken system. I'm not supporting that in any way but it's hard to see how the US politicial system can reform itself unless there is some kind of revolution or coup.
 

Hesemonni

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,485
User warned: inflammatory derailment
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
 
OP
OP
ShironRedshift
Oct 25, 2017
1,931
The problem is the country was never supposed to support population centers being like they are. The difference between the house and the senate was designed to let the 'little guy' still have a voice, but it's gone so far the other way that now it consists of the 'little guy' speaking literally 10:1 for the rest of the country.
Like, I never got beyond the first few chapters of it, as I just got distracted by other things and haven't gotten back to it since (I keep meaning to, but keep just putting it off and getting distracted by other stuff), but last year I read the first few chapters of Battle Cry of Freedom, which is supposed to be one of the definitive texts on the US Civil War. And just in those few chapters I read (covering the foundation that lead to the war), it's mentioned that Jefferson thought that the Louisiana Purchase would provide enough land and resources for untold generations. But what happened during in the midst of Manifest Destiny, the push into the Midwest all the way to the Pacific shore surpassed anything could he could have imagined happening so quickly. The population exploded faster than any of the founding fathers ever imagined it would. They had no idea, no way of knowing things would turn out the way they did.

So nonetheless sticking with those same ideas all these years later pretty much makes no sense at all, like O'Donnell was getting at here. It wasn't meant for this, and it's already being pushed way beyond anything it was meant to work with as a result. I"m not sure how to change it, but it's high past time something's changed and something's done, less things just continue to get worse and worse, that's for sure.
 

Dyle

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
8,086
Wisconsin
Yeah the founding fathers could never have predicted the total aggregation of population centers. When the country was founded the difference between the biggest states and the smallest was such that the smallest states were about 1/10th the size of the largest ones and 1/4th for the middle one, but now the difference is more than 60x for California and just under 9x for the 25th/26th states. There's absolutely value in making sure that small states don't get totally steamrolled, but the current situation is untenable and destructive. Compared to the Senate the House looks like a remarkably well functioning chamber of government, but even that is extremely flawed and non-representational.

But yeah, short of a constitutional convention, which is the worst idea imaginable given the state of US politics, nothing will ever fundamentally change about it.
 

cervanky

Banned
Oct 27, 2017
1,296
Here’s a good Jacobin article on this. It’s about four years old but still very relevant.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/abolish-the-senate/

Thanks to Article I, which gives the Senate veto power over treaties and executive appointments, America’s upper chamber is actually more powerful than the lower and at the same time vastly more unequal.

It’s a double blow to democracy that feeds into American capitalism’s worst oligarchic tendencies. And yet the problem is almost completely invisible. Where one would expect millions of people in the streets protesting against US government’s resistance to one-person-one vote, the crowds are nowhere to be seen.
By 2030, the population ratio between the largest and smallest state is estimated to increase from sixty-five to one to nearly eighty-nine to one. The Senate will be more racist as a consequence, more unrepresentative, and more of a plaything in the hands of the militant right.
Reformers will face an uphill fight even in defending existing gains. Yet there will not be a thing that liberals will be able to do about it without going contrary to rules that they previously extolled. Their options will be either to stand by and watch as democracy rapidly unravels or somehow strike off into a radical new direction.
Edit:
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
If MSNBC is hard left then I have no idea what the hell that makes Jacobin. America’s colloquial political spectrum is fucked, it’s like the right has pushed the popular discourse so far right that moderates are considered far left.
 
Last edited:

samoyed

Member
Oct 26, 2017
9,025
This will get worse in the future as automation and climate change destroys the internet while they turn solidly red because no one wants to live there except stubborn conservatives who refuse to accept their life has changed.

Crisis is coming. The only question is when do we want to face it and on what terms.
 
OP
OP
ShironRedshift
Oct 25, 2017
1,931
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
Nowhere close to being as bad as Fox News, not even in the same atmosphere, but either way that's part of why I name the source, and even put it right there in the title, so people can make their own conclusions as far as that goes if they insist and just flat-out ignore it right from the beginning if they want to.

And in any case though it being from MSNBC, from O'Donnell, doesn't really change anything he's saying here, does it? The math is what it is and the numbers are what they are. And it's also true that Senators weren't even originally directly elected by the people until the 17th Amendment was ratified. Until then, they were chosen by state legislatures, precisely as Lawrence says, because that's not the model the Founding Fathers believed in. Attack the argument, not the person. Ad Hominem (abusive subtype)/poisoning the well and all that. Just neither here nor there.
 

Version 3.0

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,189
The Senate is the worst, but even the House does not represent population the way it's supposed to. And the Electoral College is borked, too, since it's a combination of the two.

The Senate isn't fixable, at least not without agreement from the States it over-represents.

But the House is fixable, with just a majority from each chamber to increase its numbers so the math works. And should be.
 

lorddarkflare

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,759
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
No. Not even close.

Fox News is actually pretty unique. Its problem is not JUST its politics--that could be forgiven. The problem with Fox News is that it effectively acts as an extension of the Republican party.

MSNBC leans left most of the time, but they are much closer to CNN insofar as they try to be actual news networks. Hell, they actually have real conservative pundits and personalities.

Also, the idea that any major news network in America would lean hard left is laughable. You need to go to youtube to find anything close.
 

corasaur

Member
Oct 26, 2017
3,300
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
Well this got long. I guess I'm ranty when I should be asleep.

No. There is not a fox news of the left.there is no comparison to be drawn between a network dedicated to sowing fear and hatred of minorities and liberals and a network where the employees happen to operate from the perspective that powerful people should be held accountable for things, that racism is bad, and that government programs should exist.

It only seems hard left because the Republican party's definition of biased media is "any information source not actively assisting in the spread of Republican propaganda." Shit, Hannity's seth rich shit alone renders any comparison to any other news channel impossible. Theres no way to compare maddow talking about whatever corrupt shit got publicized this week and hannity proposing a few months after the 2018 election that maybe hilary had a man murdered.

This chart got posted kinda early in the trump administration comparing headlines posted by fox and by other major news outlets. You could see the quest to build an alternate reality mapped out in the headlines, with anything even remotely bad for the Republican party obsfucated or ignored.

Fox news isnt just a bunch of businessmen talking about how the free market can fix things or how America was better in the 50s wink wink .Its not just world events being told from a biased perspective. It's a deliberately designed way to keep people voting to make their own lives shittier to own the libs. All of shep smith's efforts to be a functional news anchor for a couple hours in the afternoon can't outweigh the essence of every "opinion" show on the channel. It's fascist propaganda and is just as much a threat of violence as any other form of advocating fascism. Fox news is literally not a news channel.
 

GuessMyUserName

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
1,618
Toronto
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
This is a completely mindless take, Jesus fuck. Each organization having opposite political leanings doesnt mean they do the same thing in reverse.

Just because MSNBC doesn't waste viewers time with empty air on extremist talking heads propagating both sides as the same does not make MSNBC a leftist propaganda network. They have their share of traditional conservative / Republican voices and even show hosts, they just tend to avoid pure kool-aid Trumpsters of zero value unlike CNN having absolutely no standards.

Comparing Sean and Maddow is all you need, with one actually digging into political history and facts versus an hour of a pure raging propagandist stirrung up conspiracy theories. Or try to find a comparison to the hours of white supremacists from Tucker and Ingraham. There is zero equivalence.
 

Fork

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
4,792
Lima, Peru
Lol at NBC being hard left, y'all dont know what "hard left" means. Comparing an anarchist to an nbc host is a fucking joke
 

Kuro

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,367
I think its time for certain states to secede and form their own union/country. Unfortunately that could easily trigger civil war and it would be hard on people living in heavy republican states to have to move to a country that actually cares about them.
 

ISOM

Member
Nov 6, 2017
2,290
The USA is doomed. Don't know what you can say when you have a huge segment of this country that is morally bankrupt.
 

0VERBYTE

Member
Nov 1, 2017
3,324
The Nazis have infiltrated the US. Man how important is Nov midterm elections. The very fabric of the country is hinging on it.

Shouldn't it be: "The United States Republican party is an unfixable crime against democracy"?
 

Naphu

Member
Apr 6, 2018
245
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
Even IF their programming was as hard left as Fox is hard right, that STILL does not make the two equivalent opposites. If only Fox was just "hard right" and that's it. Actual propaganda, actual lying, actual party advocates. They're a crime against journalism.
 

Xiao Hu

Member
Oct 26, 2017
942
The Senate will never give up its power voluntarily. Case in point is that I think that American politics are rigged from the beginning, you will be forever locked in the dichotomy of Democrats/Republicans taking turns. While the Democrats at least have some decent elements within their party to promote social progress and undo some of the Republicans' fuckups, the fascists from the GOP will never back off from being scum of the earth.

Changing that would require control of every governmental branch, and even then there are enough Democrats that are totally fine with the situation as it is: They are well off, got power and influence, why should they relinquish control? Alternatively the US should look into devolving the state to a confederational structure. The federal government still deals with defence and foreign policy, everything else is the states' business. Progressive states can focus on improving themselves while red states can continue fucking their own relatives and smoke meth.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,620
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
No, not at all. Maybe this chart will help if you have any intent to engage in good faith.

Although, the first time I saw this on imgur someone complained in the comments that CNN should have been far left so what you see as bias can vary if your perspective is already skewed.
 

Brandson

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,475
Without constitutional amendments, a long term solution could be to encourage smart people to continue to live where they grew up, and not all move to the same places, thereby providing for more diversity of thought in the voting pools for each senate seat. Smart people move to where the jobs are. Tech companies aren't just going to setup offices in Montana or Kentucky, for example, so if and when Democrats ever gain control of government again, they need to pass legislation requiring all employers in the US to permit and support telecommuting from anywhere in the US, while also mandating that employers not pay employees less for telecommuting than if those employees moved to San Francisco or New York City, and not discriminating who is hired based on where they live (and telecommute from). Over time, this would make a positive impact in lots of ways, including voting.
 

Thorn

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,101
The only people who have the ability to fix this mess either don't have the political will to do so or benefit directly from the disfunction.

In short, we are fucked.
 

everdom

Member
Oct 29, 2017
37
Proportional voting and a doubling of senators from each state would go a long way to balancing it out, it would mean that dem states would likely have one rep senator and vice versa.

Here in Aus, each state has 12 senators (and the two territories have 2 each). While that means that a voter in Tasmania has 16 times the senatorial influence as someone from New South Wales, it usually come out as 4-5 from each of the major parties and 1-2 from the greens/other minor parties.

Honestly it works pretty well and is more sustainable I think.
 

Hesemonni

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,485
No, not at all. Maybe this chart will help if you have any intent to engage in good faith.

Although, the first time I saw this on imgur someone complained in the comments that CNN should have been far left so what you see as bias can vary if your perspective is already skewed.
Yeah that was img I was thinking about. I'm not American so when it comes to news I tend to sometimes double check things from NPR and/or Reuters. I remembered MSNBC being a tad more to the left, but my point still stands. Not to say there can't be real news in these sites, but after a while the newsflashes and faux outrages cause certain ... desensitization. But I can understand them being effective to their target audiences.
 
Last edited:

Shark

Member
Oct 28, 2017
5,210
Raleigh, NC
Preaching to the choir, doesn't fix anything realistically and sounds like whining when it is coming from someone for the party that doesn't have control.

Democrats coasted on their generational, lightning in a bottle presidential candidate (that they originally didn't even prefer) and squandered all of that momentum in just 8 years. They have conceded so many states to hungrier Republicans and didn't engage with the Obama voter to go to the polls again and again in the future. Put forth bad candidates, get bad results.
 

Keldroc

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,022
Yeah that was img I was thinking about. I'm not American so when it comes to news I tend to sometimes double check things from NPR and/or Reuters. I remembered MSNBC being a tad more to the left, but my point still stands.
Your point, if you want to call it that, is in rubble on the ground, which is the opposite of standing. There is no equivalent of Fox News on the left. I don't even know what that would be.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,620
Yeah that was img I was thinking about. I'm not American so when it comes to news I tend to sometimes double check things from NPR and/or Reuters. I remembered MSNBC being a tad more to the left, but my point still stands.
What point was that? MSNBC neither skews as hard to the left as Fox news does to the right nor does it engage in racism, propaganda, and conspiracy theories the way Fox does.
 

ArtVandelay

User requested permanent ban
Banned
May 29, 2018
2,309
No, not at all. Maybe this chart will help if you have any intent to engage in good faith.

Although, the first time I saw this on imgur someone complained in the comments that CNN should have been far left so what you see as bias can vary if your perspective is already skewed.
Maybe my perspective is already skewed as well, but The Economist should not be considered balanced. They are quite conservative and strongly supported Nicolas Sarkozy in France, for instance.
 

SG-17

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,533
As I said there, I have no clue what the answer is because so much as reforming the Senate to make it more democratic would nonetheless require a Constitutional Amendment and thus also at least 2/3 of the Senate voting in favor, which is something I can't possibly see happening.
If I understand the process correctly the Senate can by bypassed if 2/3rds of the States (34) call a Constitutional Convention and then 3/4ths (38) ratify it.
 

Wag

Member
Nov 3, 2017
4,931
Yeah that was img I was thinking about. I'm not American so when it comes to news I tend to sometimes double check things from NPR and/or Reuters. I remembered MSNBC being a tad more to the left, but my point still stands. Not to say there can't be real news in these sites, but after a while the newsflashes and faux outrages cause certain ... desensitization. But I can understand them being effective to their target audiences.
PBS News Hour is great too. No bullshit, just facts, and very in-depth focus on international news
 

Dyno

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
3,136
Yeah that was img I was thinking about. I'm not American so when it comes to news I tend to sometimes double check things from NPR and/or Reuters. I remembered MSNBC being a tad more to the left, but my point still stands. Not to say there can't be real news in these sites, but after a while the newsflashes and faux outrages cause certain ... desensitization. But I can understand them being effective to their target audiences.
Your point isn't standing. You're comparing two different entities, where one actively engages in propaganda and conspiracy theories, then when told this pretending they're both the same.

Your point fell apart the second you tried to make it.
 

Cocaloch

Banned
Nov 6, 2017
4,562
Where the Fenians Sleep
Also, who gives a shit about the 'bias', it's an opinion segment.
You should always pay attention to the creation of something you're reading. It's there for a reason which should inform your reading of it.

Maybe my perspective is already skewed as well, but The Economist should not be considered balanced. They are quite conservative and strongly supported Nicolas Sarkozy in France, for instance.
The Economist is extremely well respected for good reason. It does skew conservative, but that doesn't make them horrible.
 

PrimeBeef

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,759
Not to be a Dick, but isn't MSNBC as a source as shitty as FoxNews? Other being leaning hard left instead of hard right?
For starters, no. Not even close. FOX News is not even a legitimate news organization. FNC even admits they are not a news network, that they manipulate information for propaganda. MSNBC is a legitimate news network. Their opinion shows fall on the left leaning side of the American spectrum, but they are a trustworthy place for news.