CNN's Fareed Zakaria: Wyoming having same number of senators as California is a 'structural problem'
CNN hosts Fareed Zakaria and Don Lemon expressed their frustration with the electoral map and the structure of Congress, calling the Constitutional concept of equal representation in the U.S. Senate a "structural problem."
In a Washington Post op-ed, Zakaria weighed in on the “new dividing line in Western politics,” which he describes is the “less-educated rural populations” he calls “Outsiders’” who “feel ignored or looked down upon” and “feel deep resentment towards metropolitan elites.”
“If you look at the people who feel the most outrage… it tends to be on the older side, white men with less education who live outside cities,” Zakaria told CNN host Don Lemon. “Because in a way, their world has been upended. They lived in these small towns and they felt they had a lot of status, they had a steady job, and that world has gone away and that world has been replaced by, you know, the jobs are gone, that status has gone away with the rise of a much more diverse, heterogeneous society.”
Zakaria then pointed to a study which determined that 75 percent of the economic gains since the 2008 recession “have gone to the 50 top cities in America,” and noted that all the cities together “occupy 3.5 percent of the landmass of America.”
“So what’s happening is economic activity and opportunity is being concentrated in these small, you know, strips on the coast and a few cities in the center,” Zakaria elaborated. “And the people who are not there feel like they’ve just been left behind and they once had status and now they’re angry and resentful.”
“But that’s where the populations are,” Lemon told Zakaria, who noted that 70 percent of Americans live in cities. “That’s what has people so upset. And now you see resentment on the part of people who live in the city because they feel they’re being represented by a smaller group in the country… Next year, we’re going to have a Senate that the majority represents a minority of Americans in this country.”
“Well, another way to put that statistic is 30 percent of America is now electing 70 percent of the Senate,” Zakaria replied. “All those states with -- you think of Wyoming. It has roughly a million people. It has two senators. California with 70 million people has two senators as well. So we have a kind of structural problem here where the land is being overrepresented. The people are being underrepresented. So both sides feel deeply wronged.”
What wasn’t acknowledged by either of the CNN hosts is that in the House of Representatives, Wyoming only has one representative while California has 53, the most of any state.