The New York Times front page this morning had a long piece complaining that the U.S. Senate’s old-fashioned disregard for democracy by the numbers—yes, every state still gets two senators—was unfair to the most populous states. They purportedly get fewer federal dollars than smaller states, and lawmakers from those states sometimes have the gall to “block or shape legislation backed by senators representing a majority of Americans.”
Who knew? One example of evil: “A sweeping climate bill, meant to raise the cost of carbon emissions, passed the House, where seats are allocated by population, but not the Senate.” The Times presented other examples of how the Senate’s composition works to “benefit conservative causes and hurt liberal ones … most of the senators on the winning side tend to be Republicans, because … Democrats, especially African-Americans and Latinos, are more likely to live in large states like California, New York, Florida, and Illinois.”
How many problems with that story have you already spotted? Let’s start with the list of large states: Notice that left-out Texas, the second-largest state, has a big Republican majority, and that Florida, although a presidential election toss-up, has a GOP governor and Republican majorities in both houses of its legislature. Overall, seven of the 10 most populous states—Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio Georgia, Michigan, and North Carolina—have Republicans as governors and GOP majorities in both legislative houses.
Two other facts worth noting: The Republican-majority House of Representatives, with each district virtually the same on population, has been President Obama’s bane, not the Senate. And New York in 2010, the year the Times used as its measuring rod, received more federal money per capita than 24 of the 30 least populous states.
But facts don’t matter. This Times story is John the Baptist proclaiming the Messiah’s coming: “Lawmakers, lawyers, and watchdog groups have begun pushing for change. A lawsuit to curb the small-state advantage in the Senate’s rules is moving through the courts.” This story is part of the softening-up process we’ve seen repeatedly as the Times prepares the way for liberal judicial and legislative D-Days.