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Senators kept focus during health reform shenanigans

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By Hal Rhodes

One of the ways the constitutional framers arranged to limit the influence they feared “We the People” might wield in the chambers of our national government was to have members of the U.S. Senate appointed by the legislatures of the (then) 13 states.

That arrangement prevailed until the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, which provides for the election of senators by voters of their states. It was an attempt to democratize an inherently undemocratic institution wherein each state, irrespective of population, is guaranteed two senators.

Simply put, if democracy requires adherence to the principle of one-person, one-vote, we who live in sparsely populated New Mexico have far more votes per capita in the Senate than do folks in California.

Thus, senators representing the smaller states can – and frequently do – block the legislative objectives of senators from larger states.    

The fundamental democratic doctrine of majority rule has tough sledding in the nation’s upper house.

Worse, of its own volition, the Senate, which fancies itself a great deliberative body, has encumbered itself with some of the most archaic legislative practices this side of the English House of Lords.


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