A Long-game Plan for Democrats to Take Control of the Senate Forever, or at Least a Really Long Time.
Statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington DC will not be enough; we need to move to Wyoming.
One of the more profound civics lessons we all should have learned during Trump’s presidency is the importance of the US Senate. If Democrats had control of the Senate today, we would be able to fully appreciate RBG’s life and legacy rather than anxiously plotting strategies to block the GOP’s next power grab. Hell, if Democrats had control of the Senate, Trump would no longer be the president. They may even have had the time to investigate and impeach Pence. Take a moment to breathe that in.
The big push now is to fund Democrats running against Republicans in highly contested states. Out of one hundred Senate seats, currently the Republican majority has 53, to 45 seats for Democrats, and 2 for Independents who are for all voting purposes Democrats. If we can pick up four Senate seats, then the Republican majority is over, at least for the time being.
However, that is not a fulfilling victory as the margin of Republicans will still be too high to fairly represent our country demographically. Further, Republicans will have power by the use of the filibuster rule that requires a supermajority of 60 votes to override. In short, our current strategy is necessary triage, but it is not enough to create a healthy Senate. Given that, we should consider long term strategies that would give Democrats the supermajority that would better reflect the will of the people living in our country.
One strategy that is currently being floated is to finally give statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington DC, as both are Democratic strongholds. It is about time this is taken seriously, as arguments in support are longstanding and have always had merit. First, Puerto Rico has 3.2 million people, and DC has a population of over 700,000, which is more than Wyoming or Vermont.
The people of Puerto Rico and DC are taxpaying Americans who currently lack representation in the US Senate. If you had a proper civics education in school, you know that one of our Founders’ main arguments was the injustice of paying taxes while being denied political representation. This argument is a no-brainer for Democrats as it plays right into the ideology of any genuine conservatives left in the Republican Party. Are there any left?
Giving statehood to Puerto Rico and DC would instantly give Democrats four new Senate seats, which is good but still not enough. Even with these four added seats, Democrats still would not be able to block a Republican led filibuster. Here is a more radical plan to push a bit harder in this direction.
One of the aspects of the Senate that liberals, especially urban liberals, bemoan is the fact that it gives unequal representation by allowing each state, no matter how many citizens, the same number of representatives. A small state like Wyoming has two representatives in the Senate even though the State’s population of 586,000 is smaller than most large cities. On the whole, the smaller states tend to be much more conservative, thus this places a Republican thumb on the scales of our democracy.
Some are arguing for a change to the rule that gives two seats to each state, but this would require changing the Constitution, and that is next to impossible. Given that, another strategy would be to change the demographics of smaller states in a way that gives Democrats a majority.
How hard would that be? Well, hard, but not impossible. Let’s take a look.
Here is a list of the ten least populated states:
1. Wyoming (Population: 586,000)
2. Vermont (Population: 626,000)
3. Alaska (Population: 738,000)
4. North Dakota (Population: 756,000)
5. South Dakota (Population: 858,000)
6. Delaware (Population: 945,000)
7. Montana (Population: 1,032,000)
8. Rhode Island (Population: 1,056,000)
9. Maine (Population: 1,329,000)
10. New Hampshire (Population: 1,330,000)
If we remove from the list those states on the East Coast that already tend toward the left, and Alaska due to its distance from the rest of us, then we are left with the following four states: Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.
If there was a way to relocate enough Democratic voters to these states, that would constitute eight more senate seats. This would bring the number to 45 Republican and 57 Democratic with 2 Independents. We would still be one vote shy of a super majority, but that’s only one Republican we would have to flip to our side, or better yet, just one more senate seat (Arizona or Maine?) we need to win elsewhere instead over a dozen as we now need.
In order to assess how hard this would be to carry out, let’s take a look at the least populated state of Wyoming. In Wyoming currently there are a total of 239,257 registered voters. Republicans account for 169,468 of these, which means that non republicans (Democrats, Independents, and others) amount to 69,789. This means if we could get 100,000 Democratic voters to move to Wyoming, we would be able to flip the state from red to blue.
Currently there is a flight of urban workers from expensive cities to rural locations. Partly this is due to Covid-19 which has pushed the work from home trend, while also closing down the nightlife that was a major draw for younger urban workers. Why pay big city rents if the benefits no longer outweigh that cost?
Wouldn’t it be great if there were enticements that encouraged these citizens to move to one of the four states above? The cheap real estate alone is one enticement. Another might be the natural beauty of some of our most spectacular national parks, which includes Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, and Badlands.
What if some of our larger tech firms were willing to assist by moving their work forces to these states? Here the enticement is the lower operating costs. Amazon alone employs nearly 1,000,000 and Jeff Bezos is famously one of Trumps greatest foes. Others include Google which employs 120,000, Apple with 130,000, Microsoft has 124,000, and Intel 100,000.
All that’s missing is the quality of life that many desire after living in cities like Seattle and San Francisco, but if upwardly mobile youth are good at anything it is gentrification. Imagine downtown Laramie or Cheyenne but with hip cafes, a local food scene and four star restaurants, avant garde film houses, art galleries, and decent music venues. What’s not to love about that?
Ha, was I writing in my sleep?