MSNBC’s O’Donnell Whines the Senate Is Un-Democratic, ‘Represents Land, Not People’

December 19th, 2019 7:20 AM

Capping off Wednesday’s The Last Word and hours after President Trump’s impeachment, MSNBC pundit Lawrence O’Donnell boasted that the impeachment vote happened because voters took “power into their own hands and elect[ed] a new House of Representatives last year” and thus represents America. 

This was in contrast to the U.S. Senate because it “represents land, not people” and is thus both un-democratic and unfair because “Republicans are overrepresented compared to the number of Republican voters in this country.”




“Technically, there were 230 votes to impeach President Trump tonight in the House of Representatives, but those 230 votes were empowered by your votes. Your votes made history tonight,” O’Donnell proclaimed.

One has to wonder what O’Donnell thought when the U.S. Senate was controlled by Democrats. And this stood in stark contrast to the left's newfound love and respect for the Constitution and since the Senate is perfectly outlined in the Constitution, perhaps this sudden respect is disingenuous.

No way!

At any rate, the great Heritage Foundation Guide to the Constitution wrote this about the Senate (click “expand”):

The formulation of the Senate was the result of the famous Connecticut Compromise at the Constitutional Convention...By these devices, the Framers intended to protect the interests of the states as states.

Equal representation of all states in the Senate ensured that the ability of the smaller states to protect their interests would not be seriously impaired. Combined with the bicameral system created by the Constitution, it required that all legislation would have to be ratified by two independent power sources: Representatives of the people in the House and Representatives of the states (regardless of their respective size) in the Senate.

The mode of election impelled Senators to preserve the original federal design and to protect the interests not only of their own states, but, concomitantly, of the states as political and legal entities within the federal system.


On first blush, per capita voting seems, as Luther Martin argued in the Constitutional Convention, to depart “from the idea of the States being represented in the second branch.” However, the Framers knew from their experiences with block voting under the Articles of Confederation that states had often gone unrepresented because of an evenly divided delegation. They also appreciated that per capita voting could often represent a state's interests better than block voting, even if occasionally that state's Senators split their vote.

And reflecting back on the left’s attempts to ruin Brett Kavanaugh, the great Jonah Goldberg demolished their gripes in an October 17, 2018 column. Because, at the end of the day, it illustrated how much they hate the concept of federalism (click “expand”):

[L]et’s be clear: The Senate is democratic. Voters in each state elect their senators.

It’s just that it’s not as democratic as critics would like, because states with very small populations get the same number of senators as states with very big populations. (This arrangement is what made ratification of the Constitution possible in the first place.)

Thus, the Washington Post’s Phillip Bump writes that Kavanaugh was confirmed with support “from senators representing only 44.2 percent of the country.”

And New York Times columnist David Leonhardt argues that the Senate boils down to “affirmative action for white people” because overwhelmingly white states have representation in the Senate equal to larger, more diverse states such as California. 


First, these voters certainly don’t care that much, or they’d move to places like Wyoming or Rhode Island to maximize their electoral power. Normal people don’t think like that. If you start from the proposition that every hue and ethnicity must be perfectly represented in Congress, we’d have to get rid of states and congressional districts, too.

As political consultant Luke Thompson notes, most of these statistical games are a result of the fact that California is huge and hugely Democratic. Take its near 40 million people out of the equation, and the Senate becomes pretty representative. Most of the other big states are swing states.

The Senate was created to represent the interests of states as sovereign entities in our republican order. To argue that the Senate is structured unfairly is to argue that states are a relic with no inherent value.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on December 18, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
December 18, 2019
10:56 p.m. Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: But none of this was going to happen if the people of the United States of America did not take the power into their own hands and elect a new House of Representatives last year. A Democratic House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The American people did that. The American people put the Speaker's gavel in Nancy Pelosi's hand. The American people rushed to the polls in the last election and gave Democratic congressional candidates nine million more votes than Republicans. Tonight's lesson in your vote matters is that Donald Trump is now impeached because of that overwhelming vote for Democrats to control the House of Representatives. If Republicans had kept control of the House of Representatives in the last election, then Michael Cohen never would have been called to testify to Congress and explain how Donald Trump directed him to commit federal crimes in paying off a porn star during the presidential campaign in what prosecutors called a conspiracy against the United States of America. If Republicans had kept control of the House, Robert Mueller never would have been called to testify before the House of Representatives. And most important, if Republicans had kept control of the House, we would not know anything about President Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine. Republicans could have and would have pulled off the greatest cover-up in the history of the presidency. They would have covered it up now and they would have covered it up for history and the president of Ukraine would have, would have given that interview on American television in which he would have announced an investigation of Joe Biden that President Trump was secretly demanding and we would have no idea why the president of Ukraine did that, but now we do know. 

We know it all because American voters rose up last year and said no to Republican control of the House of Representatives. The United States Senate is not a democratic institution. It was not designed to be. The United States Senate represents land, not people and so in the United States Senate, Republicans are overrepresented compared to the number of Republican voters in this country. The House of Representatives is called the people's house because it represents people, not land. The House of Representatives was designed to be more faithful to democracy than the United States Senate and so tonight what you saw in the House of Representatives was democracy in action. What you saw was the power of your vote, the vote that you cast last year in your congressional district for your member of the House of Representatives. That was your vote in action tonight on the floor of the House of Representatives. Technically, there were 230 votes to impeach President Trump tonight in the House of Representatives, but those 230 votes were empowered by your votes. Your votes made history tonight.