The United States Constitution specifies that no state can be involuntarily deprived of equal representation in the Senate, which I take to mean that any state that refused to ratify a constitutional amendment establishing proportional Senate representation would be entitled to as many senators as the most populous state. Some have proposed that we amend the Constitution to remove that stipulation, but doing so may give rise to the legal paradox of a constitional amendment that is itself unconstitutional.
One idea that is not given adequate attention is that there is a number of senators that is at once equal for all states and proportional to their population: i.e., zero. Reducing each state’s number of senators to zero would hence fulfill the requirements of the above stipulation while satisfying the demand for more democratic representation. In order to bring about this outcome without causing constitional deadlocks, all the duties and powers of the Senate would first need to be either abolished (as in its role in creating legislation) or transfered to another branch of government (treaties, presidential appointments, etc.). Once that was done, emptying the chamber of all members would seem only appropriate.
Particularly interesting in this connection would be the position of the Vice President, whose sole specified constitutional duty is to preside over the Senate and cast tie-breaking votes when necessary. Given that the Senate would now be a purely notional legislative body with no members, powers, or duties, the Vice President would become the most deeply Agambenian political figure in history — a true embodiment of inoperativity. What’s more, the Vice President is not a member of the Senate and hence is not allowed to introduce legislation, only to vote in the case of a tie. Hence the Vice President would be radically unable to do anything other than to convene and adjourn meetings of the null set of all senators, which does not include the Vice President him or herself.
This is a proposal that I could get behind — indeed, enthusiastically. If we’re going to have a nonsensical system of government, let’s at least push the ontological boundaries.