Adam Liptak has an article in the New York Times describing the unequal apportionment in the U.S. Senate and the impact that it has on our politics.  Here is an excerpt:

But the Senate is in contention for the least democratic legislative chamber.  In some other countries with federal systems, in which states or provinces have independent political power, a malapportioned upper house may have only a weak or advisory role.  In the United States, the Senate is at least equal in power to the House, and it possesses some distinctive responsibilities, like treaty ratification and the approval of presidential appointments.  A recent appeals court decision severely limiting the president’s power to make recess appointments, if it stands, will further increase the Senate’s power.

Professor Dahl has calculated the difference between the local government unit with the most voting power and that with the least. The smallest ratio, 1.5, was in Austria, while in Belgium, Spain,  India, Germany, Australia and Canada the ratio was never higher than 21 to 1.

In this country, the ratio between Wyoming’s representation and California’s is 66 to 1.  By that measure, Professor Dahl found, only Brazil, Argentina and Russia had less democratic chambers.  A separate analysis, by David Samuels and Richard Snyder, similarly found that geographically large countries with federal systems tend to overrepresent sparsely populated areas.




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