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Last month, the New Republic ran a piece arguing that Wyoming should lose its two senators. “It is the least populous state: California has 66 times as many people, and an equal number of senators,” wrote Nate Cohn, the magazine’s own in-house Nate Silver. “And Wyoming, along with the other small states, is 90 percent white. The Senate reduces the representation of nonwhite voters, who are concentrated in the most populous states, by about one-third… I’m not sure if I saw anything more than isolated gas stations and a few McDonald’s when I drove the nearly 400 mile length of I-80 to I-25.”
Rather than boot Mike Enzi and John Barasso from the Senate, though, here’s a better idea: Change D.C.’s name to Wyoming, and then just steal their representation in Congress.
Most of TNR‘s arguments against Wyoming getting two senators don’t apply to the District: We’re not 90 percent white. We’ve got about 10 percent more people (we also have 1 percent more people than Vermont, based on the last Census Bureau estimates). We’ve got more than a few McDonald’s. And while Liz Cheney may have an uphill race to beat Enzi in the Wyoming GOP primary next year, District voters can virtually guarantee that we won’t elect any member of her family to either house of Congress.
So once Wyoming, D.C., becomes reality, how would we muscle in on that sweet, sweet representative democracy action?
It’d be easy: Our elected senators and voting House member would be able to get to the Capitol to be sworn in faster as the official choice of the people of Wyoming. Fly from Cheyenne, Wyo., the state’s capital and largest city, to any of the three D.C.-area airports, and it’ll take you at least one stop and at least five hours. Hop on a Capital Bikeshare, though, and Sen. Vincent Orange (D-Wyo.) can be answering quorum calls in a matter of minutes! Yes, Wyoming has the highest gun-ownership rate in the nation, but there are more of us than there are of them. Besides, surely law-abiding Wyoming residents wouldn’t dream of illegally carrying weapons here in the District, even to protect their state’s federal lawmakers, would they? There’s even some precedent for substituting representation in the name of fairness: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party tried, though not successfully, to be seated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention instead of the all-white official state delegation.
The rest of the country might not even notice; is Wyoming’s impact on national policy really that different from that of neighbors like Montana, Colorado, or South Dakota? One sparsely populated Western state delegation vanishing from Congress would barely register for the average American, who knows shockingly little about government.
As for locals, sure, we’ll have to get used to being Wyomingans, instead of Washingtonians. But maybe the Wyoming Nationals would be having a less disappointing season than the ones from Washington. It’s a small price to pay for democracy.