Despite Urbanization, Cities Lose Politically

The Imbalance Between Urban and Rural Politics

America has been undergoing a period of rather rapid urbanization for about 100 years, but politically it seems not to matter. Political power in America tends to favor less populous areas; this is true both on the federal level and at the state levels. For example, voters from Vermont see their votes technically weighted several times more than in Ohio because for a state of 620,000, they receive 3 seats in Congress, approximately 1 for every 200,000 citizens. Ohio on the other hand receives 18 seats for a population of 11,000,000, or about 1 for every 600,000 citizens. This happens because even the smallest states are still afforded two Senators and one Representative. Much the same is true inside states, and the consequences can prove interesting.

Unbalanced Power

Rural counties have been rapidly losing population to cities throughout the country, but they lose seats in state government much more slowly. Over time this means that the influence of cities in politics grows, but it grows much more slowly than the cities themselves. Interesting.

The problem becomes most pronounced in large states that are mostly rural but have one large city. New York and Nevada are the perfect examples. In both of these states, the major cities, New York City and Las Vegas, occupy the southern portion of the states and have vastly different concerns from their isolated northern neighbors. However, when it comes to state laws and resources, both of these cities struggle. New York City, with its nearly 16 million residents, finds itself reporting to Albany, a city with less than 100,000 residents. For those living in Upstate New York, this is great. It keeps the rural northland heard and gives them significant political power. But, more importantly, this is completely unfair to New York City. 

Urbanization is likely to continue throughout America, but we need to make some changes in our voting laws. Every citizen should have equal representation in every election, regardless of where they live.