While addressing the popular sentiment necessary to tax carbon in the United States, Chakrabarti argues that political will is masked by a representative system that fails to represent how people live today. "People say, ' [a carbon tax] is politically impossible." Well, why is it politically impossible? Because communities have taxed themselves to create more mass transit. There are clear examples of it. It's happened in different parts of the country. Your populace isn't stupid, so why is it impossible at the federal level?
"It's impossible at the federal level because... seventy percent of the country now lives in regions that cross state borders. Those regions have virtually no political representation at the federal level. Fundamentally at the federal level we don't live in a representative democracy, because we have a huge mass of the country that has fewer than thirty percent of the population in it, that's decanting population at a very rapid rate, yet still has two senators in every state, still has gerrymandered congressional districts.
"And so you have this enormous mismatch between how the populace experiences the world versus how its representative democracy works, which is, I think, at the heart of a lot of the frustration with government at both the left and the right, because they're looking out at a set of representatives who don't really understand them anymore. So you've got this crazy stuff like Ben Nelson, Senator from Nebraska, who got all the "corn husker" moves in the heath care bill. I mean, Nebraska has a rapidly decanting population. Whereas you look at the Char-Lanta corridor, the strip between Charlotte and Atlanta, or Dallas and Houston as city pairs. To me it's not just about the Northeast Corridor. The Northeast Corridor, yes, it's the big 800-pound gorilla in the room, but there are other major corridors here. And in some ways the leadership comes from the West. They've got the state bond issue in California for high-speed rail. Seattle and Portland are both much, much more advanced in terms of figuring out how to tax themselves." Underdome Interview