I have written before about the constitutional problems arising from attempts to either abolish the Senate or create proportional representation. I now believe that I have developed a flawless scheme to achieve proportional representation with only minimal constitutional amendments. My model is the effort on the state level to make an end-run around the Electoral College. The scheme stipulates that once a number of states with a majority of electoral votes agrees to this measure, all those states would award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The Electoral College would remain formally in place, but it would be functionally irrelevant, with no possibility of a mismatch between the Electoral College and the popular vote (which has happened a disturbing number of times in US history).
My Senate scheme would be more complex. First, it would require the agreement of all 50 states in order to work. Second, it would require eliminating the constitutional amendment stipulating that senators be directly elected, reverting to the previous model where state legislatures appointed them (which weirdly happens to be a Tea Party demand, so maybe we could slip this in). The twist is that state legislatures would bind themselves to appoint their senators on the basis of a new nationwide senatorial election scheme, with proportional districts drawn either within or across state lines. (Let’s just stipulate that we could find a nonpartisan body that could be trusted to draw these districts.) Two new senate districts would be formally assigned to each state, which would automatically provide for staggered elections as in the current system. Ideally, all senators would resign en masse so that the new proportional system would come online all at once, but if not, it would only take six years (three election cycles) to clean house.
This system wouldn’t technically run afoul of the constitutional provision that no state be deprived of equal representation, because each senator would still be “officially” appointed by one of the states — they would just be doing so on the basis of the election results from the new nationwide senate districts. In a deeper sense, the convolution and indirection of the system seem to me to be profoundly in the spirit of the US Constitution itself. If we implemented this plan, the Founders would surely be smiling down on us, pleased that we developed a Rube Goldberg machine to get us out of the corner they painted us into.