Senator yin and senator yang

The US Constitution provides every state, no matter its acreage or population, with two senators. At first blush, it may not make sense to provide tiny states, such as Rhode Island or Delaware, or thinly populated states, such as Alaska or Montana, with the same level of representation as California or New York, but it is a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority. In the United States Senate no state is more powerful than any other.

In 1788 the only way the founding fathers could hammer out a Constitution acceptable to all 13 states was to compose a compact that addressed the fears of sparsely populated or smaller states, whose representatives were worried about the potential of being dominated by the states that were settled first and had more inhabitants (e.g., Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts). 37 states later, those fears still exist.

States’ rights aside, by providing for two senators per state, the founding fathers have unwittingly set up a system conducive to gender balance. Why not a mandatory quota system? In other words, one female and one male senator from each state? Why is this a good idea?

Because it’s 2018!

Just kidding. There are more compelling reasons than the calendar.

Of course, it would take another Constitutional Amendment (No. 28, if you’re keeping score) to make senatorial gender balance a requirement for each state, but it would make complaints about gender balance in the Senate go away. Forever. And it wouldn’t require much legalese.

Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution states:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years…

The Seventeenth Amendment, providing for election of Senators by the voters of the state, not the state legislature, conveys that profound change by swapping out just one word:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years…

All we have to do for the Twenty-Eighth Amendment is add four words:

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators, one man and one woman, from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years…

To be sure, amending the U.S. Constitution involves heavy lifting. Any proposed amendment must be approved by 2/3 of the members of the U.S. House and Senate, as well as 3/4 of the state legislatures. That’s a tall order, but that’s the point. The Constitution should not shift with political whims. An amendment is not something to be taken lightly.

Ratifying a Constitutional amendment is difficult but not impossible. Not counting the first 10 amendments (the Bill of Rights) we’ve had 17 of them. The last one, pertaining to compensation for members of Congress, took effect in 1992. It only took 202 years to be ratified.

Remember Prohibition? That was the Eighteenth Amendment. Despite the aforementioned hurdles, an overwhelming majority of legislative bodies in the U.S. thought they could stop people from drinking alcoholic beverages, a practice that dates back to the very beginning of civilization. If Prohibition could pass muster (admittedly, it was nullified by the Twenty-First Amendment), then a gender-balanced amendment pertaining to the Senate should be a snap, and it shouldn’t take 202 years to ratify it.

Of course, a Constitutional amendment must be sold to the public just like a political candidate, a product, or service. A carefully crafted public relations campaign is essential. So is a catchy slogan. Maybe something like “Even Steven/Even Stephanie in the Senate.”

Also a must is a pithy acronym like the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), something that would fit easily on a button or a bumper sticker.

Maybe we could call our amendment SEA (Senatorial Equality Amendment). Then proponents will be able to thump the tub for “SEA change.”

To promote passage of SEA, the word “equality” should be repeated over and over again. You can’t say it too often. The word positively reeks of virtue signaling. Half the population is male, the other half is female; so half the Senate should be male, and the other half should be female. That’s equality, right?

Yeah, I know all the arguments about equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome, but for the sake of getting the amendment passed, let’s pretend the former doesn’t exist and the latter is the ultimate definition.

Elected representatives voting against SEA will have to explain how and why they voted against equality. The very idea! Don’t you know that equality is right up there with truth, justice, and the American way? Yeah, I know, truth, justice, and the American way ain’t what they used to be, but we still have to genuflect to them.

Let’s assume the SEA gets passed. What’s that you say? Devils? Details? Unfortunately, even a concept so as simple as guaranteed gender equality is riddled with ramifications. Change is always the enemy of vested interests, who never go quietly.

When would the amendment kick in? By a given date, say, January 1 two years from now? The Seventeenth Amendment safeguarded existing Senators’ seats until the next time they had to stand for election. But if the Twenty-Eighth Amendment requires a Senator of each sex, what would happen in states that have two male senators? Would one be ordered to step down at the next election cycle? Or would he be grandfathered in for as long as he wanted to remain in office?

Or should I say great-grandfathered in? A secure seat in the Senate is a nice gig and some Senators are understandably reluctant to step aside. John McCain (R-AZ) died in office, even though he had brain cancer. He was a few days shy of his 82nd birthday. The senior geezer in the Senate is now Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is 85. Guess no one told them the graveyards are full of indispensable men – and women.

Under SEA, state and/or federal legislation would have to be enacted to ensure that whenever a male senator dies or retires from a two-male state, the new senator named by the governor (as is done now when a senator resigns or dies in office) will be female. When the next election rolls around, only females would be permissible nominees.

In the long term, of course, it would make no difference, as attrition would eventually assure equality. But what about the short term, which seems to occupy the efforts of most politicians?

If SEA were to kick in as of this writing, four states would have to give a female senator the boot. In addition to the aforementioned Dianne Feinstein, California also has Kamala Harris. Washington has Maria Cantwell and Patti Murray, New Hampshire has Margaret Wood Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, and Minnesota has Tina Smith and Amy Klochubar. All are Democrats.

Knowing how important gender equity is to both women and Democrats, I have no doubt that each of the four states named above would have no trouble persuading one of its senators to step down to make way for a male senator. Sure, it would be a loss of power for women in those states, but it’s all about equality, isn’t it? And equality is all good, right?

The most important question to ponder is that of voter eligibility. Would men and women still be allowed to vote for both senators, or would each voter be restricted to voting for the senator who is a match gender-wise?

I like the idea of only men voting for the male senator. Women tend to get what they want when women are in office. The same is not true for men when men are in office. Male politicians not only have to cater to the female vote, they have to tread lightly lest they inadvertently anger women via an “insensitive” comment.

One example that readily comes to mind is the case of Clayton Williams, a classic West Texan (both oilman and cattleman) who ran for governor in 1990 and had a seemingly insurmountable lead over Democrat Ann Richards. All it took was for him to compare rape to bad weather: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” Texas women were not amused by the plainspoken plainsman, so Ann Richards took up residence in the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.

One can’t help but wonder what would happen if a male candidate for the Senate had to appeal only to male voters, and female voters had no veto power over him. Given that arrangement, men’s issues would surely get more exposure than under the present setup, in which every candidate must cater to the female vote to some degree to have any realistic hope of getting elected. Paradoxical as it may seem, while SEA would seemingly enhance female influence by guaranteeing 50 female Senators, single-sex voting would likely diminish gynocentrism.

Ah, but if we turn the Senate into a Boys Club/Girls Club, what would happen to people with gender dysphoria? Well, even they would be restricted to one sex or the other. They would be instructed to pick a sex and vote accordingly at the next election.

Suppose some of those voters are gender fluid and switch to vote for the opposite gender in the next senatorial election? Obviously, there is a danger here of flip-flopping to affect the outcomes of both elections. In a you-call-it election, there is also the danger of a political party exhorting some of its members to identify with the opposite sex just to tip an election. Equality is no safeguard against gaming the system.

Despite all the questions SEA brings up, I would like to get the ball rolling. Time to make this topic an issue…on talk radio, internet posts, letters to the editor, whatever. Make it like ERA, an issue that won’t go away. That proposed amendment isn’t dead, by the way. Feminists are still working to get it passed.

For SEA to become reality, it will need regiments of foot-soldiers. It will more than likely take on the trappings of a crusade, inspiring all sorts of rhetoric, posturing, grandstanding, virtue signaling, and moral logrolling. It would all be very entertaining. The talking heads could chatter non-stop for months if not years. The corporate media pundits could display color-coded maps showing which states had ratified and which had not.

Imagine a world where the men’s vote is wooed with as much ardor as the women’s vote. Imagine all the issues aired out on this web site being addressed by senatorial candidates. Think of all the times you’ve heard some female politician start off a speech with “As a woman, I . . .” Have you ever heard a male politician say, “As a man, I…”?

If we had male-only voters voting for a male-only senate seat, maybe that phrase would be heard throughout the land. And it might go viral. It might spread to the House of Representatives…state legislatures…gubernatorial elections…city councils…

As a man, I can dream, can’t I?

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