midterms
15
Jan

U.S. Senate favors Whites

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It’s election season, and though three weeks is an eternity a picture of the upcoming midterms is beginning to emerge. The Blue Wave talked about for a year, may happen, but likely only in the House of Representatives. While it’s increasingly likely that the Democrats will flip the House, it’s also likely that Republicans could increase their advantage in the Senate, according to electoral number cruncher Nate Silver.

In the New York Times, David Leonhardt makes the case that the U.S. Senate is very unrepresentative of the nation as a whole. In short, it skews rural and white:

First, the states whose populations have grown the most over time, like California, Texas, Florida and New York, are racially diverse. By contrast, the smallest states, like Wyoming, Vermont, the Dakotas and Maine, tend to be overwhelmingly white. The Senate, as a result, gives far more special treatment to whites than it once did.

The second reason is even more frustrating, but it would also be easier to fix. Right now, about four million American citizens have almost no congressional voting power, not even the diluted power of Californians or Texans. Of these four million people — these citizens denied representative democracy — more than 90 percent are black or Hispanic.

His remedy for the second problem is to grant statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico. The District of Columbia, for the entire life of the nation, has had no Senate representation. D.C., by the way, was 51 percent black as per the 2010 census. That’s down from 70 percent in 1980. Five referenda have been held on statehood in Puerto Rico, most recently in 2017. The population of the island 2015 was over 3 million people. That’s larger than 21 states. With statehood, Puerto Rico might not have suffered from the terrible rescue and recovery efforts after hurricane Maria, efforts that FEMA admits were a failure.