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A Constitutional Mulligan


An interesting question–if you could pick one part of the Constitution to get rid of, what would it be?

I thought about saying ditching Article V; as I have argued before, this was a major mistake. But I’m much more sure that it should be modified than how. Anyway, I think there are more important fish to fry. My choice: abolish the Senate.

There’s just no good reason for an upper house. Bicameralism is in no way necessary for liberal democracy; neither New Zealand nor Nebraksa are about to slide into tyranny. Even if protecting the interests of states is important to you, there’s little evidence that the Senate matters much; Canada has become much more decentrailzed with a vestigial upper house, while the Senate hasn’t stopped the U.S. from becoming more centralized. And the egregiously malapportioned American Senate is particularly problematic. The most important effects of the Senate has been to do things like perpetuate slavery and apartheid, prevent universal health care and other progressive reforms, and encourage particularly inefficient pork-barrel spending. And it’s insulated from Constitutional change through ordinary processes. So if I could do one thing, it would be to abolish the Senate; I can’t think of any single change to the constitution that would do more for American democracy.

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