New York’s screwed in DC, the nation’s capital, and so is California. But where is the outrage? A populist movement stalled President Obama’s direction and led Donald Trump into the presidency, or so the story goes. But is that true? Hardly.
By David Stone
Democracy Is Not What It Appears in America
In America, power and wealth grotesquely shifts in favor of empty states where not much of anybody wants to live.
Those of us living in heavily populated states with diverse citizenry get shafted. It’s all legit, a huge flaw built into the Constitution, favoring and protecting slavery.
Isn’t it time for a change in favor of the democracy America always claims to hold as its ideal?
When did we become so goddamned passive?
Harbor no illusions about democracy in the U.S. It slants against urban population centers and favors remote, less densely peopled states.
New York Screwed in DC, Representatives Silent
Representation slants to states where few people chose to live. Big state taxes finance the federal government, but get far less say on how things are done. That extends to deciding who lives in the White House.
Democratic leaders and editorialists worry about Donald Trump, but where’s the anger about electoral unfairness? How can our government be so slanted that a candidate winning more votes than any other in history is cast as a loser while someone else takes the reins of power?
Message to New Yorkers, Californians, too: The loser is you.
Why aren’t we reading about the built in unfairness of our government? Why haven’t we been hearing about it for years? Where the hell are our elected officials and our journalists?
Update: January 19th, 2021, New York governor Andrew Cuomo finally makes a point about the inequities, demanding more pandemic aid from the federal government.
Here in New York, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand speak up for liberal causes. Why aren’t they angry? Their constituents get cheated?
One reason may be that, having won the last two presidential elections, expecting to win a third against a buffoonish tyrant, Democrats eased up, lazily taking the next win for granted.
Why fight a system, even an unfair one, when you’re winning?
Riding shotgun with the truth, injustice built into our institutions reinforces itself. And there aren’t enough statesmen out there to do anything about it.
Well, in fact, they may actually be out there but none toady enough to grovel for the fortune in contributions needed to run for office.
The Bitter Truth
Fact #1: If you live in New York, your voice in Washington, on the national stage as well as in the Electoral College, is worth one-third that of citizens in Wyoming. For Californians, it’s even worse.
Two facts are important to understand.
First, every state in the union gets two senators, which alone is enough to unhinge democracy.
Second, every state gets at least one congressional representative, regardless of population.
Electoral College representation hews to congressional. Each state gets one electoral vote for each member of Congress. Unfairness multiplies.
Do the math…
New York State, with a population just under 20 million has two senators, one for every 10 million people. Wyoming, with a population of around half a million, also gets two senators, one for every 270,000 people.
In the Senate, a Wyoming citizen’s vote is 40 times more valuable than any New Yorker’s or Californian’s.
How’s that for democracy?
Twelve under-loved states have fewer people than Manhattan alone, but each gets the same number of senators that the entire state of New York does.
If that isn’t enough to raise your blood pressure, look at how it pans out in the Electoral College. When it comes time to elect a President, New Yorkers get one vote for every 675,000 people. Wyoming gets one for every 192,000 people.
Hence, Donald Trump.
The deep red states, Alaska, North and South Dakota, get roughly one for every 250,000 people.
Is anyone fool enough to think the system is anything near fair?
The damn thing is, it gets worse.
Which States Get The Power and The Money?
What makes the system that shifts power heavily to rural states unlikely to change is that these areas also benefit by contributing less in taxes to the federal government. And then, they get far more back from Washington.
This atrocious imbalance allows rural states to keep their local taxes low.
And to brag about it while trying to lure businesses away from their benefactors on the coasts.
New York gets screwed in DC. We send tens of billions more to Washington than we get back. We support Wyoming and other relatively empty welfare states, and we reward them with political clout greater than their populations deserve.
According to reports in WalletHub, with the exceptions of New Mexico, Oregon and (sort of) Maine, the twenty states most dependent on federal spending are all deep red, that is, Trumpland.
Taxes paid by Wall Street, the entertainment industry and individual strengthen DC, but New York ranks 41st in terms of what we get back.
We get far less than we put in.
It’s like putting money in a piggybank with a hole in the bottom. A bunch of farmers lounging among buttes and empty spaces grab everything that leaks out.
New York’s Screwed In DC, But Where’s the Outrage?
New Yorkers, as well as Californians, Texans and Floridians — shafted with unequal representation every day in Washington. Small, unpopulated states so unattractive and lacking in diversity that few chose to live there run roughshod over us.
They get extra votes on legislation and greater say in who gets to live in the White House.
Low population states pick our pockets, too.
I’m not interested in analysts blaming a populist revolution until they’re willing to own up to the fact that no such revolution, if one exists at all, is conceivable if our system doesn’t twist democracy into a tangle so crude and unfair it would embarrass a pretzel.
Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and should be busy working on securing our place in the world, shoring up the economy and so forth. She isn’t, not because she lost, but because the U.S. political system cheats the most popular states, slanting grotesquely away from diversity and economic success.
Our values are bent as a result.
Where’s the outrage?
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