A man who served Congress for more than 59 years says he could fix its broken systems by completely abolishing the Senate.
John D. Dingell, who represented Michigan from 1955 to 2015 ― the longest anyone has ever served in Congress in America ― said in The Atlantic that he can’t stand watching good bills pass a “hyper-partisan House” and then be stymied by the Senate, which is disproportionately weighted by congresspeople in small states.
“With my own eyes, I’ve watched in horror and increasing anger as that imbalance in power has become the primary cause of our national legislative paralysis,” he wrote in an excerpt from his book The Dean: The Best Seat in the House.
“Twice in the past 18 years, we’ve seen the loser of the popular vote become president through the Electoral College formula, which gives that same disproportionate weight to small states, each of which gets two automatic votes for its two senators.”
His answer? Abolish the Senate or combine the two chambers, “and the problem will be solved.”
Though he admits that he’s an “armchair activist” now that he’s out of Congress, he believes he has the answers to the confidence problem in American politics.
A few small changes Congress can make now, he says, are to automate voter registry, publicly fund elections and put an end to minority rule.
“The idea that Rhode Island needed two U.S. senators to protect itself from being bullied by Massachusetts emerged under a system that governed only 4 million Americans,” he said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated Dingell’s piece in The Atlantic was an op-ed. In fact, it’s an excerpt from a book he wrote.