Imagine a chamber in which senators were elected by different income brackets — with two senators representing the poorest 2 percent of the electorate, two senators representing the richest 2 percent and so on.
Based on Census Bureau data, five senators would represent Americans earning between $100,000 and $1 million individually per year, with a single senator working on behalf of the millionaires (technically, it would be two-tenths of a senator). Eight senators would represent Americans with no income. Sixteen would represent Americans who make less than $10,000 a year, an amount well below the federal poverty line for families. The bulk of the senators would work on behalf of the middle class, with 34 representing Americans making $30,000 to $80,000 per year.
Imagine trying to convince someone — Michael Bloomberg, perhaps? — to be the lonely senator representing the richest percentile. And what if the senators were apportioned according to jobs figures? This year, the unemployed would have gained two seats. Think of the deals that would be made to attract that bloc!
Or how about if senators represented particular demographic groups, based on gender and race? White women would elect the biggest group of senators — 37 of them, though only 38 women have ever served in the Senate, with 17 currently in office. White men would have 36 seats. Black women, Hispanic women and Hispanic men would have six each; black men five; and Asian women and men two each. Women voters would control a steady and permanent majority — making, say, discriminatory health-care measures such as the Stupak Amendment and the horrible dearth of child-care options for working mothers seem untenable.
If we take a multiverse approach, it may mean that, for continuity’s sake, a sort of Crisis of Infinite Senates is in order. And if so, my vote is for the Demographic Representation Senate to become canon.