POLITICS JULY 17, 2013
Yesterday's big political news was that Liz Cheney will challenge Senator Mike Enzi in 2014. A Republican is going to win this race either way, so there isn't much more at stake than the civility of dinner parties in Jackson. But when news about Wyoming's senator is dominating Twitter, it's worth remembering that we shouldn't really need to think about any of this. Wyoming probably shouldn’t get a Senate seat at all, let alone two.
Yes, I’m aware that the Senate represents the states. I've even known this for a long time: I got to play Roger Sherman—one of the Connecticut delegates who proposed the “Connecticut Compromise”—in a mock constitutional convention in seventh grade. I'm also aware that the only remedy is another constitutional convention. But it is preposterous that Wyoming’s 570,000 people get two Senators:
—There are at least 100 counties with more people than Wyoming.
—Rhode Island’s largest county has more people than Wyoming.
—Fairfax County has twice as many people as Wyoming. There are more Romney voters in Fairfax County than voters in Wyoming, the second reddest state.
—There are almost as many Romney voters in wildly Democratic Brooklyn as there are in Wyoming.
—The student body of the University of Wyoming (13,992) would be the state’s seventh largest town.
My colleague Alec MacGillis has documented the serious political and policy implications of a deeply anti-democratic Senate, but Wyoming deserves special mention as the worst culprit. To take concerns from his piece, Wyoming has the highest gun ownership rate and the highest level of carbon emissions per capita—the latter by a wide, wide margin. It is the least populous state: California has 66 times as many people, and an equal number of senators. And Wyoming, along with the other small states, is 90 percent white. The Senate reduces the representation of non-white voters, who are concentrated in the most populous states, by about one-third.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Wyoming. I’ve been to a rodeo in Cody, slept in a Walmart parking lot in Gillette, and everyone should visit Yellowstone and the Tetons. But I also drove through the state’s largest “city” in about two minutes and I’m not sure if I saw anything more than isolated gas stations and a few McDonald's when I drove the nearly 400 mile length of I-80 to I-25.
Wyoming is a place with two escalators; it probably shouldn’t get two senators.