The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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The United States Senate should be dissolved

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,493 times Debate No: 36845
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)




This is intended to be a broader philosophical debate on the effects of an institution that expresses power disproportionally to individuals in favor of geographic areas (the senate). It will be assumed and not stressed that the pro position would displace the hypothetical lost power of the senate into the house, but the merits of doing so aren't for debate unless con argues that there would be a strong impracticality of dissolving the senate (by any possible means, since 'shifting all congressional powers to the house' isn't the only possible solution). Finally, this isn't a constitutional debate.

The pro argument is won by demonstrating that undesirable effects of the senate's structure outweighs any desirable effects and should therefor, be dissolved as a political body in the United States.

The con argument is won by doing precisely the opposite.

The burden of proof lies equally on both sides. The first round is for acceptance of the debate.


Interesting debate topic. I will be arguing that the Senate is a needed and neccesary part of Congress.
Debate Round No. 1


Assuming we are to keep the republic form of democracy, that is, representative democracy, it is important that each individual withhin the system maintains equal and proportional power by their vote and the vote of their representative. My opening arguement is as simple as this: the senate disparates power between individuals in favor of arbitrary geographic lines. An individual from Wyoming has more power over the federal government than an individual from California does as a result of the senate. This defies the purpose and parameters of a democracy. As such, the senate should be dissolved.


Dissolving the United States Senate would be a short-sighted and impractical move. Unlike many other senates (such as the Canadian Senate), the United States Senate provides a number of roles that cannot be handled or replaced by a single house.

One of the most important roles is impeachment. Under the current system, impeachment, like the court system, is split into two parts - the grand jury, handled by the House, and the actual jury, handled by the Senate.[1] This prevents a conflict of interest, because the same group that is accusing the individual of a crime cannot then remove him for that crime - instead, the case must be thoroughly reviewed by a completely separate group of people from those who instigated the charges. Further, the Senate is, by definition, smaller than the House - meaning that the process is expedited by not having 435 different people to potentially ask questions or the like.

Another unique role the Senate provides is that of advice and consent - in other words, the House cannot pass a bill without Senate approval, and vice versa.[2] This role is uniquely important, because it means two different bodies of people must agree upon something, increasingly the likelihood that it is better. The two bodies must work together to pass bills, rather than giving all the power to just one body.

These two roles cannot be equally used in a proper maner in a one-house system. By having such checks and balances, the stability of our political system remains and important things such as laws and impeachments cannot be rushed through.

As to my opponent's point, his only argument seems to be that he doesn't like that the Senate is divied up by state rather than by overall population. I disagree entirely - while he would have a reasonable complaint if the Senate was the only house of Congress and thus people were being disenfranchised, it is not the only house. The existence of the House of Representatives - determined entirely by population - negates these complaints entirely. Within the world, both a one-state-one-vote system (like the UN General Assembly and the Australian Senate, or variations such as the Canadian Senate) and proporational representative systems (like the House of Representatives and the House of Commons) are used - no international court has ruled one-state-one-vote systems are contrary to a republican form of government, and even if courts did rule as such, it is not enough reason to abolish the Senate entirely. Why? Because you could adjust the Senate to be proportionally represented too. Simply put, this is an extreme reaction to a problem that most people would say doesn't really exist.

Debate Round No. 2


Let me begin by addressing an underlying semantical issue. Any debate like this, where we are discussing if some institution or another should be kept or removed, anyone could subvert it with the semantic foil, "well we don't have to get rid of it, we could change and alter it but still call it the same thing." Yes, it may very well be the case that one non-essential duty allocated to the senate should be kept, it doesn't mean it couldn't be delegated to the same effect. At any time the house could have a specific committee among it who handles the prosecution and investigation of an impeachment charge leveled by the remaining body.

With that said, the same could apply conversely, as you hinted at by stating "you could adjust the Senate to be proportionally represented too." If I would have anticipated the debate would have gone in this direction, I would have explicitly stated (more so than I already did) that the intention of the debate was to investigate if the principals embodied in the senate are worth keeping. However, to conclude this part of my rebuttal, I'll at least say that adjusting the senate to be proportional to population would be redundant or pointless beyond the semantics of it, where as dissolution would not, as a real change beyond names assigned to bodies with certain tasks would be involved.

Next, on the notion that two bodies increases the likelihood that a bill will be 'better' is, with all due respect, utterly devoid of logic. Just because one group is arbitrarily differentiated from the other doesn't mean they have any different interest or approach when it comes to evaluating bills. The only things that makes the house a "different body" than the senate are 1, powers that aren't in any meaningful way related to bill-writing or determining its content; and 2, the size of their constituency. These are both either once again, just a semantic or arbitrary line draw within a group of people, or something perfectly solvable by re-delegating within the house, and then refer to the opening part of my response.

Now to get to the heart of the debate. The co-existence of the house does not negate the disenfranchisement caused by the senate, it half-negates it which is far from justifiable. Consider simple mathematics and an example for a moment. California is more than 30 times the size of Wyoming in population. When it comes to the federal government, any individual in either of those states is represented twice by two equal halves, their senators and their congressman/woman. When it comes to the senate, a group of 1 million people are allowed as much power as a group of some 30 million, for absolutely no other reason than an arbitrary line on a map was drawn around them. This means that in the senate, someone from Wyoming has 30 times more power than does someone from California. But they are on par footing in the house, so surely this negates it? Certainly not, it means in sum, a person from Wyoming has a mere 15 to 1 advantage over their peer from California, being that on one half they are equal, 1 to 1, and on the other they are 30 to 1. No amount of disparity, if even "half-negated", should be considered justified or proper to a democracy.

In closing, the senate is an institution that uses fractions to covertly disenfranchise people merely because they live between some lines with a lot of other people compared to another group. Giving someone 1/15th the voting power as one of their peers in a system designed to address and protect them equally on matters that effect them equally is an affront to both equality a democracy. Multiplying the amount of bodies in the government that differ only arbitrary names doesn't have any logical effect on the efficiency and reliability of the people tasked with representing a citizen in our government. As such, the senate as it is should be dissolved, with its worth-while powers and duties being appropriated by other bodies that can as easily perform them.

Thank you to my opponent for engaging me, you actually came from an angle I wasn't expecting which is the best I could have hoped for.

These sources may be a bit gratuitous, but for anyone who feels skeptical on my figures about the populations of Wyoming and California (the real ratio is actually a bit wider than the simplified figures I used):


Before I begin my closing statements and rebuttal, I would like to note that my opponent spends much of his last round saying I missed the point of this debate and that the point of this debate was to see if "the principals embodied in the senate are worth keeping". This sounds like an incredibly cheap cop-out to me - this debate was not about principles at all, but instead about whether or not the favorable aspects of the Senate outweigh the negative aspects of the Senate. In fact, my opponent explicitly lays this out in defining the winning conditions:

The pro argument is won by demonstrating that undesirable effects of the senate's structure outweighs any desirable effects and should therefore, be dissolved as a political body in the United States.

The con argument is won by doing precisely the opposite.

In my arguments, I have done precisely that - I spent my debate arguing that the desirable aspects of the Senate outweigh any negative aspects. I urge voters to reject my opponent's incorrect semantical ploy - I did not violate any rule of this debate.

Now, my opponent argues that changing the Senate's rules is an incorrect argument "adjusting the senate to be proportional to population would be redundant or pointless beyond the semantics of it, where as dissolution would not, as a real change beyond names assigned to bodies with certain tasks would be involved". This argument makes no sense whatsoever. Despite the clearly laid-out win conditions, which say nothing about absolutes, my opponent is trying to retroactively frame this debate to make it so that abolishing the Senate is the only way to fix any potential problems. This makes no sense whatsoever and should be rejected in its entirety.

On the second argument, my opponent asserts that advice and consent does not help produce better bills. Although I would assert that having a separate body review things is a great way to ensure higher quality, this is essentially a he-said-she-said deal, so take that as you will.

On the third argument, my opponent argues that impeachment responsibilities could be handled by separate committees in the House. To me, that is a miscarriage of justice. Why? Because a common principle in law is that the same body that brings charges should not be the body to review the law and convict you.

At the end, my opponent again continues with his only argument - that one-state-one-vote systems and variations disenfranchise people and are wrong. I have already established that no prominent, international body agrees with this view, and in fact the most prominent international body, the United Nations, uses this method in the General Assembly.[1] The system is not a violation of democracy - far from it. And abolishing the Senate because of an imaginary issue like this is simply not practical, wise, or logical.

To conclude - the Senate's practices of advice-and-consent and impeachment are vital and their existence far outweighs any potential issue with one-state-one-vote systems. As such, the resolution of this debate is negated. I strongly urge a vote for CON. Thank you.

Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by inshat 5 years ago
I am in favor of the pro
My decision was mostly in part by the pro's clear demonstration of unequal representation of the senate and how we can fix the approval system through two bodies within one. I did not agree with the con, because different committees within the house are different bodies , not the same. The con also used the example of the UN General Assembly which I thought was flawed. Why should Samoa have the same representation as China? It is unequal representation based on population and influence which is the problem in the senate the pro already addressed.
Posted by Oromagi 5 years ago
Fair enough, waxwing. I'm not convinced on BOP but I'm not looking for a debate on debate. Instead I will express my appreciation for your choice of a more erudite topic than most offerings and wish you luck in your argument.
Posted by Waxwing 5 years ago
Ultimately I'm asking the con to assert that the senate should exist. It is an assertion that needs to be justified, as there isn't an inherent justification for it simply by the fact that it is an existing body in the government.

Alternatively, think of it this way. Pretend for a moment that the senate doesn't currently exist, and the question is instead "should a senate be established?". The arguments made should theoretically be precisely the same from either side, no? So would the merits to judge the two opposing arguements. Burden of proof is really a matter of empirical claims, like asserting that there is a donkey in my garage. Lacking belief that there is a donkey in my garage is automatically justified until evidence or proof that there is a donkey there is presented. This is the real consequence of BOP. This debate isn't asking to make physical claims or assertions of reality (per se), rather ideological judgements of value or ethics. And even after all that it would be me who has the disadvantage if anyone, in this respect. I can't really make an argument that the US senate is impractical or impossible, since it ostensibly does exist and operate, while the con could possibly (however unlikely) make an argument that it couldn't work without the senate, being that the senate has always exist as long the US federal government has.

So finally, remember this, I wouldn't have any unfair advantage anyway. You're saying I could appeal to making the least-weak argument, but so could the person taking the con.
Posted by Oromagi 5 years ago
Unfortunately, the conditions of your debate establish a false dichotomy: Either the Senate's effects are undesirable and the institution dissolved or desirable and retained. You suggest that the BOP is equal, hoping that even if your argument for dissolution is weak, a weaker argument in defense of the Senate will serve as proof for dissolution.

From Wikipedia entry re: BOP:

"When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim"

Obviously, laying an equal burden on Con makes for no burden at all. If you start losing the argument for dissolution, you simply shift the burden to Con, argue that the Senate is a pain in the butt (an easy & popular notion) and then claim that you've proved the case for dissolution. This commits the logical fallacy of appealing to ignorance.

If you think dissolving the Senate is the way to go, make your case. But your opponent should not be denied the option of appealing for moderate solutions: for example, shifting some senatorial powers to the house, or modifying filibuster rules, or adjusting representation to reflect small states vs big states, or a wide range of other options. Your opponent should have the opportunity to disprove dissolution as an extreme solution without being burdened by defense of an unpopular Senate.
Posted by wjmelements 5 years ago
First glance said "United States should be dissolved." Aww.
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