No, Senate Apportionment Is Not White Supremacy

This week the Atlantic ran an article by Eric Orts, arguing for a major change in how seats to the U.S. Senate are apportioned. Like many others, he believes that small states have too much power in our legislative upper body. This idea floats around a lot, especially when Republicans control the Senate. Instead, he would give every state one senator to start with, then apportion the rest based on population. California, for example, would have 12, while Rhode Island would have 1.

Let’s set aside the broad arguments about this issue, such as the fact that limiting the power of the larger, more powerful states was a feature, not a bug of the U.S. Constitution, and that in all likelihood the plan Orts lays out violates that document. Charles Cooke has a good takedown in National Review Online that is worth reading. . .

I’d like to investigate just one of the claims Orts makes. In the essay, he contends that the Senate’s two per state apportionment is a “vehicle entrenching white supremacy.” His argument is that because most small states are predominantly white, white voters are being overrepresented. He views this not only as an example of white supremacy, but one that works to ensure the permanence of white supremacy. But is that true? . . .

Unfortunately, the assumption underlying Orts’ argument is an ugly one. His claim only works if it is true that, either consciously or unconsciously, white voters favor politicians and programs that are better for white people and that this preference for white supremacy is an essential element in how they vote. If this were true, however, wouldn’t we see white voters overwhelmingly flock to the political party that best supported these supposedly white supremacist policies?

In fact, we see exactly the opposite. According to Pew, 33 percent of whites are Republicans, 26 percent are Democrats, and 37 percent are Independents. If white people really are voting based on the interests of their racial group, they certainly can’t seem to agree what positions and policies best advance them. Apparently white voters in tiny Delaware, who elected Democrats Chris Coons and Tom Carper, have very different ideas about what is best for white people than do those in Wyoming, who elected Republicans John Barrasso and Mike Enzi. (Read more from “No, Senate Apportionment Is Not White Supremacy” HERE)

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