As reported by USAToday
Former Rep. John Dingell, who served in Congress longer than anybody ever, has a plan for improving politics immediately: abolish the U.S. Senate.
Writing in a new biography, “The Dean: The Best Seat in the House,” Dingell, 92, makes a case for changing the Constitution to get rid of the upper chamber, criticizing the 18th Century idea that the smallest states have the same number of senators as California.
While it may have made sense in the late 1700s that “Rhode Island needed two U.S. senators to protect itself from being bullied by Massachusetts” at a time when there were only 13 states and 4 million Americans, Dingell says, “today in a nation of more than 325 million and 37 additional states, not only is that structure antiquated, it’s downright dangerous.”
In the book’s epilogue, Dingell argues that such a system turns representational democracy on its head, as does the Electoral College, and that both should be gotten rid of, despite the constitutional hurdles of doing so. “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.”
Dingell was first elected in a special election in 1955 to replace his father in Congress and held on to the job until January 2015, when he decided not to run for re-election. Over the decades, he became one of the most powerful members of the House, helping to write and pass numerous influential pieces of legislation, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Affordable Care Act and more.
And he has never been particularly fond of the U.S. Senate, either, often criticizing it as a place where good bills go to die. In the new book, written with David Bender, Dingell, who in recent years has become something of an improbable star on Twitter, looks back at his career and the forces shaping American life during that time.
Dingell’s wife, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, replaced him in Congress.
In the book, Dingell makes several other suggestions for restoring integrity and respect for government, including:
- Automatically registering American citizens to vote at age 18, without any “impediments of any kind” to increase participation in elections.
- Publicly funding all campaigns and eliminating private donations. And as for the Supreme Court declaring “money is speech,” he dismisses it roundly, saying, “The day my wallet starts talking to me, I might reconsider that view.”
- Protecting the independent press. “We cannot restore respect to our institutions … until we put an end to the systematic attacks on journalism that have become increasingly prevalent.”