Ezra Klein writes:
If Democrats won Senate seats roughly in proportion to how many people voted for Democrats to win Senate seats this would all look very different.
The “center” of the Senate is well to the right of the center of the country. And today is the result.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) March 6, 2021
Klein writes this because the Senate rejected Bernie Sanders’s plan to impose a $15 minimum wage on every state in the union. The vote ended up with 42 senators in favor and 58 senators against — or, put another way, it ended up 18 senators away from a filibuster-proof majority and eight senators away from the simple majority that Klein favors.
Klein also writes this because he doesn’t understand how the American system of government works.
Klein’s operating assumption seems to be that the federal government is the only government in the United States. But it’s not — and, moreover, it’s not by explicit design. The federal government is staffed by representatives who are supposed to consider only questions of national import, while leaving everything else to the states. There is nothing in the American system of government that prevents the Democratic Party from winning elections in the majority of the states, and passing into law — at the state level — all of the things that Ezra Klein covets. By contrast, there are many provisions within the American system of government that make it more difficult for a simple majority to do this nationally: among them, the enumerated powers doctrine, the structure of the Senate, the filibuster, and the presidential veto. These are not flaws or loopholes or anachronisms, they are wise and logical rules that were not only established from the country’s inception, but to which everyone involved in today’s vote has consciously sworn an oath.
If it were the case that Wyoming was able to prevent California from setting its state minimum wage at $15, I’d agree with Klein that we had a problem. But it is not. On the contrary: Wyoming has no say over California’s own laws, but it does get to weigh in as an equal on the matter of what California’s voters may force Wyomingites to do.
And that is exactly how it should be.