Second Class Citizens 365

New York's Screwed in Congress and the Electoral College But Where's the Outrage?

Updated 3 years ago Peter McCarthy
The Instruments of Government
The Instruments of Government
Photo is in the public domain

A populist movement stalled President Obama's initiatives and ushered Donald Trump into the presidency, they say. But is that true? Hardly. The rarely mentioned truth is that the big, blue, diverse states are getting shafted, and it's all legit.

Democracy Fleeting

When did we become so goddamned passive?

Harbor no illusions about democracy in the U.S. With representation slanted grotesquely in favor of states where few people chose to live, those of us whose taxes contribute the most to federal government operations get far less say on what or how things are done.

As Democratic leaders and virtuous editorialists wring their hands about Donald Trump, I wonder where the legitimate anger is. How can our government be so slanted that a candidate winning more votes than any other in history is cast as a loser as someone else prepares to take the reins of government?

I can tell you this, New Yorkers. Californians, too. The loser is you.

Why aren't we reading about the built in unfairness of our government? Why haven't we been hearing about it for years?

One reason may be that, having won the last two presidential elections, expecting to win a third against a buffoonish tyrant, Democrats relaxed. Why fight a system, even a bad one, when you're winning?

Bitter Truth

I wish I could couple these facts with optimism about a fix, but adjacent to the truth is its related awareness that the injustice of our institutions inherently reinforces itself. And there aren't enough statesmen out there to do anything about it.

Fact #1: If you live in New York, your voice in Washington, on the national stage, as well as in the decisive Electoral College, is worth only about one-third that of your fellow citizen in Wyoming. For Californians, it's even worse.

To understand this, two important facts are relevant. First, every state in the union gets two senators, which alone is enough to unhinge democracy. Second, every state is awarded at least one congressional representative, regardless of population.

Aggravating this assault on fairness, Electoral College representation closely hews to congressional. Each state gets one electoral vote for each member of Congress.

Let's do the math. New York State, with a population just under 20 million has two senators, one for every 10 million people. Wyoming, with a population of around half a million, also gets two senators, one for every 270,000 people.

In the Senate, a Wyoming citizen's vote is 40 times more valued than yours.

In fact, twelve states have less population than Manhattan alone, and each gets the same number of senators that New York does.

If that isn't enough to flatten your sense of fairness, take a look at how it pans out in the Electoral College. When it comes time to elect a President, New Yorkers get one vote for every 675,000 people. Wyoming gets one for every 192,000 people. The deep red states of Alaska, North and South Dakota get roughly one for every 250,000 people.

Is anyone fool enough to think the system is anything near fair?

The damn thing is, it gets worse.

Who Gets the Money and the Power

What makes the system that shifts power heavily to rural states unlikely to change is that these areas also benefit by contributing far less in taxes to the federal government while getting far more back from Washington. Making matters worse, this atrocious imbalance allows rural states to keep their local taxes low.

Laid out flat, the truth is that New Yorkers, by sending tens of billions more to Washington than we ever get back, pay to support the people of Wyoming and other relatively empty states who have been rewarded with far greater political clout than their populations deserve.

According to reports in WalletHub, with the exceptions of New Mexico, Oregon and (sort of) Maine, the twenty states most dependent of federal spending are all deep red, that is, Trumpland. With all the taxes paid by Wall Street, the entertainment industry and vastly more people than most states, New York ranks 41st in terms of what we get from Washington.

Stated simply, we receive far less than we put in.

It's sort of like putting money in a piggybank with hole in the bottom where a bunch of dependent farmers lounging among buttes and empty spaces grab everything that leaks out.

Summary: Where Is the Outrage?

New Yorkers, as well as Californians, Texans and Floridians, get shafted with unequal representation every day in Washington. Small, unpopulated states so unattractive and lacking in diversity that few people want to live there run roughshod over us. They get extra votes on legislation and much greater say in who gets to live in the White House.

Low population states pick our pockets, too.

I'm not interested in analysts blaming a populist revolution until they are willing to own up to the fact that no such revolution, if one exists at all, is conceivable if our system hadn't twisted democracy into a tangle so crude and unfair it would embarrass a pretzel.

Hillary Clinton won this election and should be busy working through a transition with President Obama's people. She isn't, not because she lost, but because the U.S. political system cheats the most popular states, slanting grotesquely away from diversity and economic success.

Our values are being destroyed as a result.

Where's the outrage?

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