To be clear, the wealthy framers of the Constitution wanted the Senate to protect the powerful from sweeping populist pressures. However, they could not anticipate the subsequent invention of filibusters transforming their speed bump into a veritable roadblock. Nor could the Founders predict the population growth that now gives Californians 1/68th as much representation in the Senate as the people of Wyoming, a state created a century after the Constitution.
Meanwhile, residents of Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, who outnumber residents of several states, have no electoral representation in Congress. The whiteness and patriarchy prevalent in the overrepresented Plains and Northern Rockies states amplifies power imbalances.
While many companies offer feel-good ads promoting multiculturalism and equality, their political arms (like the Chamber) and political investments perpetuate the dominance of wealth over our elections and the public interest. Those of us who value democracy must remember that the quest for suffrage and equality is inseparable from the imperative to revoke the power of corporations and money over our elections and our government.
Democracy advocates lost a major battle this month when 52 senators effectively voted to allow widespread voter suppression and election manipulation, but the fight helped lay the groundwork for future victory, including over 230 civic organizations (including the UUA) uniting as the Declaration for American Democracy, dedicated to advancing voting rights.
Many of us learned of a sterilized history in which the United States gradually progressed from a wealthy white male electorate to an inclusive democracy. But in the entire history of our nation, only 11 blacks and 58 women have served as senators. Hard-won victories by citizens have taken decades and are interspersed with setbacks, often, like today, at the hands of the United States Supreme Court.
Long-term progress has come from rallying with new energy after each loss to go further towards equality. May we be resolute in the struggle to create a true democratic republic.
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