Government of the states, by the states, and for the states

AP US Government and Polar Vortex

In 2040 (only 21 years from now), 30 U.S. Senators, representing the 15 most populous states, will be home to what % of the American population?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this data?

  3. What is the cause of so many people having such little representation?

  4. How different will this be from current representation?

  5. This imbalance means that 33% of the population will get 70% of Senate representation. Explain whether this is fair.

  6. Where will those states with more population get representation equal to their population?

  7. How will this impact American politics?

  8. More populous states tend to be more liberal than less populous states. Make a claim about how the ideology of the U.S. Senate in 2040 be different from the U.S. House?

  9. What are some powers that belong only to the Senate?

  10. What is the historical reason that we give every state no matter its size, 2 Senators?

  11. Explain whether someone who valued political equality very highly would advocate abolishing the U.S. Senate and having only a unicameral legislature based only on population.  

  12. What makes a state so special today? The original states were basically divided into their shape by colonists 200+ years ago? We know that at the time of the Constitutional Convention, each state was equal, and that made states special. But what makes states special today? Why should they get two senators each, no matter how few people live there? What if we just randomly drew lines on the map dividing the US up into 50 interesting shapes, would each of those shapes deserve special status - and two U.S. Senators? What if we gave the 50 biggest river basins 2 senators? And what if every single person from the state of Delaware moved, would we still give Delaware two Senators?

  13. If we had a unicameral legislature based on population, how would that impact federalism?

  14. If we erased all state lines and just called this the United People of America, how would that impact federalism?

  15. How would American policy be different if we erased all states?

  16. What would an anti-Federalist (like Thomas Jefferson) say about erasing all states?

  17. Brutus I (which I’ll call an Anti-Federalist Paper) argues, “The first question that presents itself on the subject is, whether a confederated government be the best for the United States or not? Or in other words, whether the thirteen United States should be reduced to one great republic, governed by one legislature, and under the direction of one executive and judicial; or whether they should continue thirteen confederated republics, under the direction and controul (sp!) of a supreme federal head for certain defined national purposes only?” How would a good federalist (like James Madison) respond to this argument?

  18. How would you respond to this argument?

Learning Extension

You know the magazine, GQ? The one with all the pictures of beautiful people? Yeah, that one. They also have words. Check out this interesting argument for why we should abolish the Senate.

Action Extension

Tell your best friend in the whole world (BFF) whether you think we should abolish the Senate. Share your argument and their reaction in class or online.

Visual Extension