The Unelected Senate

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The Senate has never been a particularly democratic institution. It wasn’t designed to be one. Small states have as big a voice there as big ones do. But now we have another phenomenon: A growing number of Senators who got there by virtue of having won the vote of only one person.

At this point, there are four states–New York, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois–being represented by Senators who were appointed by Governors. That is not unprecedented, but it already accounts (at least, according to my math) for about 13% of the U.S. population. And they may well be joined soon by three more from relatively big states–Florida, Texas and (depending on whether the Legislature changes the law) Massachusetts. That will mean more than a quarter of the U.S. population will be represented by people who were elected by a single constituent.

Isn’t it time to come up with another way of doing this?

UPDATE: A good point and a suggestion from Swampland commenter Paul Dirks:

Ironically, the Senate was originally set uo to be fairly undemocratic. State legislatures were resonsible for choosing Senators and like Judges they were to be relatively immune from the winds of electoral politics. [KT NOTE: Historic background here.]

Perhaps, rather than relying on Governors, State legislatures should again play a role. It would be more democratic than the current arrangment and much quicker than a special election.

UPDATE2: From the archive, one of my all-time favorite Swampland Commenter Contests.

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