The Senate Is a Bullshit Institution

US Capital

Given the sheer volume of radioactive political waste currently flooding the American body politic, I find it is increasingly tempting to settle for a kind of lazy criticism of the whole charade. Simply put, the experience of having your basic sensibilities exist in a state of perennial assault – day in and day out, by your own damned government – is downright overstimulating. It almost feels like I’m a medical doctor who’s been presented with a terminal patient, and am now being told I need to “fix him.” Well, guess what? I’m not a doctor, I barely know the patient, and the Lakers play at home tonight. So rather than waste my time performing mouth-to-mouth on America’s corpse, I think I’ll just go ahead and conclude that we’re all fucked.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t agree with this conclusion. On some level, I am highly aware that no amount of internet ranting is likely to save our dear Republic from herself. Thankfully, though, I’m not really doing it for her. I’m doing it for me. Call it a pointless endeavor if you like, but there’s something about giving one of my innumerable hobby-horses a good tongue-lashing that never fails to warm me from the inside out. It’s my little form of catharsis, in these times. Therefore, in the unlikely event that a single soul is left reading after that preamble, I invite you to enjoy this verbal curb-stomp of the U.S. Senate.

I’ve always found it funny that the pundits don’t hit this more than they do. Because, quite frankly, the upper chamber of the people’s Congress is one of the most pompous, pointless, dysfunctional, and undemocratic institutions in the whole of the Western world. Before I can really begin to discuss this, though, I should say that as a coastal, liberal Democrat, I will of course be extending the necessary caveats to any potential attacks I may levy on True Americans™, as mandated by The New York Times which, as we all know, is nothing short of the liberal equivalent of the papacy. Ehem: Hurray for every buck-toothed farmer in Iowa! Praise the lord for every poor white-trash conservative in the great state of Arkansas, and lest we forget, three cheers for all of the uneducated former factory workers and their aspiring fascist movement. You people are truly the salt of the land.

Now before anybody asks me, no – my beef is not with the mere fact that these people exist. My beef arises from the fact I, a citizen of California, enjoy approximately 1/65 the voting power of Joe Sixpack from Wyoming, according to the bogus institution that is the U.S. Senate. How on earth can this be true? Well, allow me to explain: At the time of our nation’s founding, the backwoods-types insisted that each state be afforded equal representation in the Senate, regardless of their population. And while i’m sure this seemed like a fine idea at the time, I have little doubt that our founders would be spinning in their graves if only they knew just how royally this idea had managed to hose the contemporary torchbearers of the Enlightenment.

Indeed, the political power of every uninhabited flyover state is wildly out of proportion to that which is afforded to California, Texas, Florida, New York, etc., by way of this arcane body.  This stems from the fact that 50% of the U.S. population now lives in just 9 states, and that, as a result of this, we find ourselves immersed in a preposterous scenario wherein half the county gets just 18 senators, while the other half gets 80-freaking-2. 

And while we’re on the subject, I would add that the half which comprises this minority coalition of diverse, cultured, and innovative states tends to be a whole lot more diverse, cultured, and innovative than the denizens of God’s Waiting Room, Wyoming. This disparity is reflected in the demographic makeup of the Senate (mostly old white dudes), and also in the values that it’s members protect.

I could go on. I could talk about the fact that the Senate ostensibly operates within the margins of various rules and traditions, yet apparently finds no issue in flagrantly violating any and all of them whenever they so please. “Oh, the rules say we need 60 votes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee? Well, we don’t have 60 votes, so I guess we’ll change the rules!”

I could talk about the fact that the upper echelons of power in the chamber are unfailingly comprised of our most geriatric “senior” politicians who, despite displaying symptoms of dementia at the diagnostic level, typically cling on to their perches until finally, we pry them from their cold and lifeless hands.

I could mention the fact that I have yet to hear a coherent thought expressed as to why we’ve ever needed TWO chambers in the Congress, rather than one, in the first place. We already have the Presidency and the Courts. Why do we need a bunch of 60+ year old multimillionaires acting as an additional “check”?

In summary, then, to hell with the U.S. Senate, we don’t need it, I don’t like it, and damned if I don’t feel just a wee-bit entitled to having my political will asserted around here, sometime. I mean, have you seen the place, lately? It’s as if the universe is attempting to ensure that every liberal on the planet becomes a full-blown alcoholic. Thankfully, just bitching up a storm of naked hyperbole can keep the demons back as well — at least for a little while.

‘Til next time.

 

-B

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