I have heard the statistic that the people in congress who represent less than 10% of the population are the ones who are stifling most of the legislative progress needed in this country. I am thoroughly aligned with the concept of “The tyranny of the majority” where it is necessary to prevent the majority of people from doing substantial harm to a minority group simply by their majority status. But now it seems that we must fear the “tyranny of the minority”. Did our founding fathers intend for so few of us to have so much control? I think not…
I want to spend some time talking about some of the States. I know that geography is losing status in our school systems so I thought I had better provide you with a map here so that you can find the States I am going to talk about. This map shows some interesting statistics on its own but we won’t be talking about them here.
Most of the problem of voting inequality and therefore misrepresentation comes from the fact that the prairie States have a share of the members of congress that is way out of line with the number of people in those states. Look at Wyoming for instance. The home of Dick Cheney has one representative per 200,000 people. My State of Indiana has one representative per 600,000 people. Why should the good people of Wyoming have three times the influence in congress that Indiana does?
This overall question has gotten me to thinking about how all these mostly empty States even became States in the first place. Being a history buff it was fun to discover how that happened. Why, for instance, is there a North and South Dakota instead of just a Dakota? Why isn’t Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho which has a combined population of less than half of Indiana even be three States? It makes no sense to me.
Let’s start with the Dakotas. From what I have been able to discover the main reason there is two Dakotas instead one is because when they entered statehood they thought it would take too long for representatives to travel to the State capital if it were one State. Of course there were also some political reasons. Different groups in the territory just didn’t get along with each other. Fast forward to today and these reasons are without an ounce of merit. There is no reason not to combine them. But could that actually happen?
Ok, now on to Wyoming. This State as a population density of 6 people per square mile. There are actually many times more cows in Wyoming than people. Since I know about Indiana I will use it for comparison. Indiana has about 71 people per square mile. Now that isn’t a lot of people, it is actually below the average U.S. density of almost 90. Then there is New Jersey with 470. How about we take Wyoming and put it together with Montana and Idaho. That seems like a natural grouping to me. We would come up with a total of 33 people per square mile. I will leave it up to the folks in those three States to decide what their name would be 🙂
We have two basic problems with voting equality in this country. One is gerrymandering and the other is population density. Both are very solvable issues if we had the guts to actually tackle them.