Democrats are sure that the only thing keeping America from becoming a paradise are those pesky, 233-year-old checks and balances on “democracy.” In particular they have their eyes on the Senate, in which each state, no matter how thinly populated, how Christian, or how flyover, gets two representatives.
Our Democratic friends tune out all of our usual arguments about federalism, the union as a compact of sovereign states, minority rights, and the need to ensure that major social and political changes are supported by more than a minimal winning coalition. So I suggest a practical education in place of all this failed discourse. In any case, abolishing the Senate or giving it the dubious blessing of “rep by pop” is basically impossible within the Constitution, which proclaims that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”
Instead of abolishing the Senate or reforming it into another House, but with bigger desks, we patriots should propose the opposite remedy for Democrats’ unrealistic expectations from the large and diverse country they are condemned to share with us: Americans should abolish the House of Representatives.
In the original scheme of the founders, the House, directly elected by the people, in which each state was allocated representatives according to its population, was supposed to ensure that the people’s representatives have control or at least a share in control over taxation, warmaking, commercial policy, and the whole panoply of legislation. Today’s House hardly can claim to represent the people any better than the president or the Senate: when a House seat is to be filled in a “midterm” election, without the distraction of a presidential, Senate, or governor’s race, only a minority bother to vote at all.
This is perfectly rational behavior on the voters’ part. Even if one rejects, as one should, the so-called paradox of voting—the claim that it is odd for people to vote even though an individual has only an infinitesimal chance of deciding the outcome—the truth is that the winner of almost every House race is decided when the congressional districts are drawn up. For a well connected and powerful congressman such as Jerry Nadler, no “jerry-mander” is too tortuous or absurd to make sure that he is returned. Here a picture is worth 1,000 words:
Indeed, very few people can name their own congresscritter, but even those who can rarely have the access or confidence that their representative effectively represents their views and concerns. And why should they believe themselves represented when a representative such as Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who rarely manages to get 100,000 votes in her carefully drawn pistol-shaped district, has the same voice and the same vote in the gerrymandered House as Abigail Spanberger (D-Calif.) who polls more than twice as many?
Moreover, the House has not managed to do its jobs or stand on its prerogatives: The House has exceedingly rarely forced the executive to go to Congress before going to war. The House let the Obamacare bill be drafted in the Senate, making a mockery of the constitutional requirement that all taxes originate in the House. The House has failed to use the weapon of impeachment to check the Obama and Biden Administrations’ scofflaw immigration policies. Maybe a House that did its constitutionally appointed work and fairly represented the people would be worth keeping, but that is not the House we have.
Getting rid of the Senate would require the consent of every state, but getting rid of the House of Representatives is comparatively easy—an ordinary Amendment would do, and an ordinary amendment can be passed by 34 of the 50 states through the convention process whether Congress and the president like it or not.
Abolishing the House would begin the painful and difficult process of constitutional reform by disposing of a deadweight institution that has not lived up to the founders’ hopes for it. It would make the United States more like the Democrats’ much-admired European Union, where the directly elected European Parliament is a powerless talking shop, but all real decisions are made by the European Commission or the European Council, in which each of the 27 EU member states has equal representation.
Federalism is under assault, consensus politics is under assault, and the fundamental rights and liberties of the people are under assault. In the face of these assaults, it is time to strike a counterblow against the tyranny of the self-proclaimed majority in favor of deliberative government and real diversity of opinion. We can do all those things with one simple move, by using our constituent power through the amendment process to abolish the House and let the far more successful and estimable president, Senate, and federal judiciary get on with the nation’s work.
Will we miss the House? If you are worried that we will, remember the wisdom of the Hag in C. S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian: “Who ever heard of a witch that really died? You can always get them back.”