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You’ve read my rant before. We live in a big state. California is geographically large (third after AK, TX), diverse (second only to HI), an economic engine (taken alone, the 5th largest economy in the world after US, China, Japan, and Germany), and population (we have 10 million more citizens than the next state, TX).

When the Founders created the US Senate with equal representation for large and small states, they never anticipated westward expansion would create even larger states that made all those originals tiny by comparison. Today the 25 largest geographic states are all west of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Today’s stalemate in the US Senate is a result of that concession to small states in the Constitution.

Five states (AK, MT, ND, SD, WY) have five times California’s number of Senators for a population less than half within Los Angeles county, alone. These large-land, but small-population, states tend to be rural and politically conservative. They carry outsized legislative weight relative to their populations.

So much for the Small States. What about the Big Stakes? Midterm elections are killers for any president’s party. That conventional wisdom is backed by long history. In the House, Democrats even lost seats in 2020 (not a midterm election year) in spite of running against the party of the twice-impeached president. With history, population shifts, and repuglicans running so many state legislations in charge of census reapportionment, Democratic House gains in 2022 seem unlikely.

On the Senate side, there will be 20 repuglicans and 14 Democrats on ballots in 2022. Four of those Democratic Senators were elected last time by precarious margins less than 5%.

Therefore, control of both the House and the Senate are “up for grabs” in the next election. (see above re midterm conventional wisdom) The current slimmest operational majority for Senate Democrats is in real danger and THAT is why we still have a filibuster rule. It’s Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s gamble, and depends on Mitch McConnell’s humanity. Uh-oh.

Famous football coach Vince Lombardi once replied when asked why his teams rarely passed the ball, “If you pass the football, only three things can happen and two of them are bad.” He was referring to the pass being dropped by his own player or intercepted by the opponent. If the filibuster rule is eliminated this year, three things could happen and two of them are bad.

First, Democrats would still need every vote to pass legislation, not a great improvement on the present, and sometimes impossible. Second, if repuglicans take the majority in the midterm elections, any negotiating power for Democrats in the minority would be lost without the filibuster they, themselves, removed.

The cynic in me sees another nasty outcome. If Mitch McConnell’s repuglicans gain the Senate majority, there is little doubt they would immediately eliminate the filibuster nonetheless, and shut out the Democrats. Some progressives say, “Do it now, Chuck, while you still can get good bills passed. McConnell’s gonna screw us, anyway!”

And now for something entirely different. The Supreme Court is moving to consider abortion rights. Abortion foes often cloak their arguments in biblical terms when we are, instead, a society based on laws. But there may be a connection. The second sentence of our 1776 Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Thirteen years later many of these same radical firebrands codified those endowed rights in the US Constitution. In 1973 the Supreme Court deemed women’s healthcare choices were among those “certain unalienable Rights.” In this case (maybe in others, too), rights can be a zero-sum proposition. When new rights are afforded to one, established rights may be taken from another. If new rights and Constitutional protections are given to nonviable fetuses as “unborn people,” counterpart rights will be stripped from existing productive members of society.

On the horizon is a scary final thought. The impeached, disgraced, and deposed ex-president is babbling about running for Congress in Florida, where anything is possible. If elected and his party becomes the House majority, he could be chosen by his sycophants to be Speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency.