Jacobin

It’s not worth abolishing the Senate for direct democracy

There is a reason why many notable conservative thinkers hold the concept of ideology in low regard. Often times, ideologues, so married to their ideas of right and wrong, make grand propositions to showcase their intellectual superiority and flair for dramatics. The ideologue’s job is rarely the search for truth but instead to turn philosophy into a dazzling light show.

At least that’s my take on a recent screed in the Jacobin titled simply “Abolish the Senate.” Given that the piece appears in one of the most radical leftist periodicals in America, I expected hyperbole. But the article, written by journalist Daniel Lazare, surprises in its lack of thoughtfulness and overuse of dog whistles meant to inspire base anger in progressive readers.

So what exactly is wrong with abolishing the Senate, an institution 225 years of age? As a Nockian, I’m inclined to endorse the sentiment. Representative democracy on a large scale is hogwash and deserves a good axing. Unfortunately, history warns against such radicalism, and shows us that revolutionary calls to action are often sown with the seeds of complete societal upheaval. That’s not exactly my cup of tea. Hence I’m not so keen on pushing the proverbial button and abolishing the much-maligned state in one fell swoop, including the Senate. Perhaps one day we’ll get there, though it’s doubtful.

Back to the piece, Lazare is adamant about tossing out what Washington called the saucer that cools the populist longings of the House of Representatives. His reasoning is simple: the current United States Senate is “one of the world’s most undemocratic legislatures.” How so? The men and women who make up the legislative body are disproportionately representative of the country. The millions who live in New York City essentially have the same amount of votes as the half-million hicks that reside in Wyoming. And that just ain’t fair.

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