In the last post I said I wanted to see the Senate gun bill vote calculated by number of people represented. Well, Jonathan Cohn and Eric Kingsbury have worked it out –
If you assume, for sake of argument, each senator represents half of his or her state’s population, then senators voting for the bill represented about 194 million people, while the senators voting against the bill represented about 118 million people. That’s getting close to a two-thirds majority in favor of the measure.
And this is why we can’t have nice things. Ian Millhiser and Adam Peck write,
… a voter in Wyoming enjoys 66 times as much representation in the Senate as a voter in California.
As the least populous state, Wyoming makes out like bandits when it comes to Senate representation, but they are far from alone in enjoying such a windfall. A voter in Idaho (population 1,595,728) counts as almost 24 Californians. A voter in Nebraska (population 1,845,525) counts as nearly 21 Californians. And a voter in North Dakota (population 699,628) counts as more than 54 Californians. Indeed, if you add up the combined populations of Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alabama, that still adds up to over 3 million fewer people than live in the state of California. That also adds up to 26 senators, all of whom opposed background checks.
As I recall, the original idea was that senators represent states, not people. But, functionally, I don’t think that’s been true for a long time. This imbalance in representation is doing serious harm to the nation in many ways beside leaving us more vulnerable to gun violence. Although rural citizens may flatter themselves as being the “real Americans,” it’s urban areas that drive the nation’s economy, not to mention culture and the innovations that will keep us from sliding into Third World territory. Increasingly, it feels to me that the more conservative parts of the country are just so much dead weight.