Neal Sheeran

Rants, Raves, and Geekery

The Small-State Advantage in the United States Senate »


John Gruber, in relation to a New York Times infographic that illustrates per capita federal aid for 31 smaller states compared to the 3 largest:

Everything that’s wrong with U.S. politics, in one picture.

What I think he is actually railing against, because he has before, is the both groups each represent about 25% of the population, but the former is represented by 62 Senators and the latter six. Gruber doesn’t really give a shit that Wyoming’s per capita aid is $4,180 compared to California’s $1,790.

Gruber is pissed that Wyoming Senators each represent about 290,000 people, and Senators Boxer and Feinstein from California represent 19 million-plus each, and each holds one single vote.

Nevermind Article 1, Section 3 of the US Constitution:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, 1 for six years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Nevermind that Wyoming has one congressional district and California has 53, and the House holds the purse strings.

Nevermind that that zero US Senators have passed a budget in 1,400 days, because none of them want to be on the record and accountable to those they represent – a significantly bigger issue than the how many of them there are. 2

There are a myriad of things wrong with politics in the US. The fact that Wyoming and Vermont are on equal footing with New York and Texas in the Senate is by design and doesn’t break the top 25.

I venture a guess that if the 10 smallest states by population were all blue states (there are actually 5, and the red/blue split between the 31 is about even), Gruber would be singing a different tune. But a few small red states holding sway over the liberal lions from New York and California? A crisis of government. Remember, liberals only cry about tyranny of the majority when they aren’t in it. 3

  1. Changed by the 17th Amendment in 1913 when Senators became directly elected by the people.

  2. Although they did vote 97-0 against President Obama’s budget last year, so they have that going for them.

  3. See filibuster reform.