The federal government utilizes a bicameral legislature. Membership in the House is proportional to population, so high-population states receive a high number of representatives. However, regardless of population, each state elects two senators, which ensures that high-population states don’t completely control the federal government.

Likewise, state governments originally employed bicameral legislatures that included one chamber where there was one member per county, so that residents who lived in small towns and rural areas had meaningful representation. Urban interests complained that members of these chambers represented “places not people,” which violated voting apportionment laws, but these members actually represented county governments, just as the U.S. Senate originally represented state governments. Without this type of legislative chamber, many states would be totally controlled by one or two large urban areas.

Eventually, urban interests brought lawsuits demanding that the membership in both chambers be proportional to population. In Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the Supreme Court held that membership in both chambers of state legislatures must be based primarily on population and the delicate balance of power collapsed.

For example, the state of Illinois eventually was replaced by the Chicago metropolitan area; aka Chicagoland. Likewise, the state of California became the SF-LA-SD Coastal Cartel.

Virtually all large urban areas are now governed by socialist political machines and their politically correct authoritarian ideology. In stark contrast, many small towns and rural areas still choose to live by traditional American values. Without a state legislative chamber whose membership isn’t proportional to population, small towns and rural areas have little power to protect their culture from the onslaught of urban socialism.

This lack of power is also why most of the economic benefits (spoils) that state governments can steer to political cronies go to large urban areas which has accelerated the pervasive decline of small towns and rural areas, that have scarcely been touched by the “recovery” since 2009, while most large urban areas have grown richer.

Neglected rural areas could regain a measure of sovereignty from large urban areas, that are ruling their states, by reconfiguring their senates so that each county elects one senator, or creating a new state, within their current boundaries, that excludes their large urban areas.

Both Illinois and California are well under way in their efforts to implement the second option. Unfortunately, success will require cooperation from their state government and Congress. The first option could be accomplished without any action by Congress, if their state legislature is willing to use the nullification process, but it’s difficult to believe that large urban areas will cooperate with either process and give up their current control of their states.

The only real hope may be a lawsuit that reverses Reynolds.

Tragically, Reynolds allowed large urban areas to gain control of many states and has made life in the hinterlands often seem hopeless. If nothing is done to restore the balance of power, many rural areas may relive the days of the Great Depression.

David Stanowski lives in Galveston.


(7) comments

Bailey Jones

If people wanted to live in rural areas, they would. Americans vote with their feet. There's nothing more democratic than that.

Diane Turski

People move where the jobs are. More jobs are available in the urban areas, so many formerly rural residents move to find work and become urban residents. These are the same people, just voting in their new home areas, which are urban instead of rural. This "nullification" argument is nonsense.

Gary Scoggin

So an individual who lives in a small town should have more political power than a person in a big one? That already happens with the Electoral College, where small states have more electoral votes per capital than large states. That’s enough small representation for me.

Gary Miller

A correction is already underway. Nearly all large cities in the US are loosing population. Big and small businesses are relocating to the suburbs and taking their workers (voters) with them. The 2020 census is expected to move one or more congressional position out of each large city. Some big cities are trying top offset population loss by adding illegal immigrant residents.

Jim Casey

This piece is so full of claptrap it is difficult to know where to begin. Politicians like to portray rural areas as models of independence, hard work, and can-do spirit. Maybe that was true in the days of "O! Pioneers," but it hasn't been true for a long time. Rural areas do not support themselves, except those where oil and gas drilling are active. Farming, mining, and logging do not provide a high standard of living. Most rural areas receive net benefits from state and federal government in the form of agriculture subsidies, disaster insurance and aid, Medicaid, and other welfare benefits. Rural areas also benefit from military bases, state colleges, and state and national parks located there. If these areas—like Illinois south of the Chicago metropolitan area—were independent countries, they would be in a class with Poland. Rural culture? Poverty, low educational attainment, high unemployment, drug and alcohol dependency, and shorter life span.

Jim Casey

As for having a state senate with one representative per county, many states have a hundred or more counties. Texas has 254. That hardly makes for a productive legislative body.

Stuart Crouch

One person, one vote. Spin it however you like, but your reference to "traditional American values" is somewhat telling. I can guess what that includes, but I won't; nor will I allege that you might be a tad racist, rather the position of your article is.

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