The anchor of white privilege is America is the US Senate and there's little to nothing that will change that anytime soon.
Data for Progress, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization, is trying to raise alarm bells about the issue. In a new memo, co-founder Colin McAuliffe writes that “the Senate is an irredeemable institution” that’s biased 3 percentage points in the GOP’s favor and systematically underweights the interests of nonwhite Americans.
Of course, the fact that the Senate gives extra weight to the interests of people who live in low-population states is not news. That’s an undemocratic, inegalitarian principle that was deliberately baked into the Senate from its inception. What’s new is that changes in American life have made its disproportionality more consequential.
A key issue is race. As the US has gotten more diverse, that diversity has spread throughout the country unevenly. It’s not impossible for a state to be both small and diverse (Hawaii) or even small and heavily urbanized (Rhode Island), but lower-population states tend to be whiter, more rural, and less educated than average. The result is a system of “racism by proxy” that overweights the interests and opinions of white voters over those of black, Hispanic, and Asian voters.
The growing polarization of the white vote along the lines of population density and educational attainment has also supercharged the once-modest partisan skew of the Senate, making even the most popular changes to health care or minimum-wage policy an extremely heavy lift.
...For most of America’s history, meanwhile, nonwhite participation in the political process was suppressed so dramatically that the racial skew of the Senate was a non-issue. In the contemporary US, that’s not the case — America’s large and growing nonwhite minority enjoys, in theory, equal citizenship rights. But today’s Senate overrepresents white voters and significantly underrepresents nonwhite ones.
...The disproportionality of the Senate has long mattered in American politics. But it didn’t matter in a particularly partisan way until recently. Overrepresentation of rural voters manifested itself mostly in bipartisan support for things like farm subsidies, the Universal Service Fee that’s charged on phone bills, the Essential Air Service, and other relatively small-bore ways in which the federal government caters to rural interests.
But the drift of white, working-class voters into the Republican camp has increased the scale of the tilt.
...Part of what makes the current situation difficult to cope with, however, is that it’s one thing for elected officials to shy away from commitments that are clearly unpopular (like same-sex marriage in 2006). It’s another thing entirely to avoid positions that actually are popular but just don’t play well on a skewed electoral terrain. Nevertheless, the fact remains that rural whites’ generally conservative views — especially on topics related to immigration and gun control — are given exaggerated power in the electoral process.