Former Democratic Rep. John Dingell, the country’s longest-serving congressman, called Tuesday for the abolishment of the Electoral College and the Senate, arguing against the “disproportionate influence of small states” that paralyzes the lawmaking and electoral processes.
Mr. Dingell, who represented Michigan for more than 59 years from 1955 to 2015, wrote an op-ed for The Atlantic offering a series of suggestions that he said would restore the public’s trust in the federal government. He called for an end to “minority rule” in Congress, saying it’s “antiquated” and “downright dangerous” that all states get two senators regardless of population.
“California has almost 40 million people, while the 20 smallest states have a combined population totaling less than that. Yet because of an 18th-century political deal, those 20 states have 40 senators, while California has just two,” he wrote. “These sparsely populated, usually conservative states can block legislation supported by a majority of the American people. That’s just plain crazy.”
Mr. Dingell argued that the Electoral College has the same flaw, giving “disproportionate weight” to small states. He called for its complete abolishment and for combining both chambers of Congress into one.
“It will take a national movement, starting at the grassroots level, and will require massive organizing, strategic voting, and strong leadership over the course of a generation. But it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? ‘Abolish the Senate.’ I’m having blue caps printed up with that slogan right now. They will be made in America,” he quipped.
Mr. Dingell had several other suggestions for restoring the public’s faith in government, like making elections completely publicly funded, automatically registering citizens to vote at age 18 and putting an end to “the systematic attacks on journalism that have become prevalent.”
“The conduct and outcome of the 2016 presidential election have put the future of our country in mortal peril,” he wrote. “After a lifetime spent in public service, I never believed that day would come. Yet it has. And we now find ourselves on the precipice of a great cliff. Our next step is either into the abyss or toward a higher moral ground.”
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