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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 18, 2013

 
If Wyoming gets to be a state, so should Washington, DC

by David Atkins

Nate Cohn at the New Republic points out the preposterousness of allowing a state as tiny and unrepresentative of the nation at large as Wyoming to command two senators:

[I]t is preposterous that Wyoming’s 570,000 people get two Senators:

There are at least 100 counties with more people than Wyoming.

—Rhode Island’s largest county has more people than Wyoming.

—Fairfax County has twice as many people as Wyoming. There are more Romney voters in Fairfax County than voters in Wyoming, the second reddest state.

—There are almost as many Romney voters in wildly Democratic Brooklyn as there are in Wyoming.
Of course, this is how our peculiar government is designed, and Wyoming isn't about to be annexed any time soon. It's deeply unhealthy for democracy that small states with easily corruptible Senators (politicians from small states with inexpensive media markets and poorer, less educated and more reactionary citizens are particularly susceptible to the threat of big money playing in their elections) get to play such an outsized role in shaping policy. It's even worse that it requires 60 votes these days to accomplish anything. But that's the way the Senate game is played, and it'll stay that way until enough Senators get tired of being in a functionally useless body and decide to change it.

But if we're gong to grant statehood for Wyoming's 570,000 people, then shouldn't the 632,323 citizens of the District of Columbia also get two Senators?

If the tiny population of Wyoming gets to advocate for policies that destroy the environment, shrink government, harm minorities and denigrate those who live in big cities, shouldn't the larger population of Washington, D.C. be allowed to advocate for the opposite view?

Granting two senators to 90% white Wyoming while denying two senators to the larger, nearly 70% minority population of the District of Columbia may be one of the worst forms of institutional racism in America today.


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