Gilens Pushes for Democratization of Senate

Public Policy Professor Martin Gilens co-authored a Medium article on the importance of electing a Democratic majority in the Senate in November and the value of “small-d democratizing” the legislative body. If Joe Biden is elected president, a Democratic majority would be necessary for quick passage of coronavirus relief legislation. However, “majority-party ‘control’ of the Senate is not enough to get things done,” argued Gilens and co-author Benjamin I. Page. Misuse of the filibuster and a bias toward small, rural states make the Senate “profoundly undemocratic” and “unresponsive to the American citizenry as a whole,” they wrote. The authors proposed eventually amending the Constitution to allocate more senators or more votes per senator to the more populous states. “Today’s social movement for justice and democracy may be precisely the sort of force that can, over time, lead to major institutional changes, including moving toward a more democratic Senate,” they concluded.


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