(VIA HOT AIR)
We Need a Bigger House
The remedy for an undemocratic system: more democracy.
By Jonah Goldberg
Watching the House of Representatives on late-night C-SPAN, you might have any number of reactions, including seppuku-inducing boredom. Depending on who’s talking, you might also feel disgust, rage, contempt, or, in rare cases, inspiration. But one reaction you probably won’t have is: “Gosh, if only there were more of these jokers.”
That’s too bad. Because what our political system may be lacking more than anything else is enough members of Congress. No, really. Seriously, stop laughing.
Except for a brief effort to accommodate Alaska and Hawaii, the size of the House has been frozen at 435 members since 1911. A 1929 law, driven in part by a desire to keep immigrants underrepresented, has kept it that way.
But there’s nothing sacred about the 435 number. In fact, the Founders would be aghast at the idea that the “peoples’ house” is filled with pols speaking for hundreds of thousands of citizens.
... Under today’s apportionment system, the “ideal” congressional district is 700,000 people, with some districts reaching nearly 1 million. Montana, with a population of 958,000, has just one representative, but each of Rhode Island’s two districts has about 530,000 people.
There is, of course, an important principle here, and if all of Montana’s residents were black, it would be easier for everyone to see it. Montanans’ votes don’t count as much as Rhode Islanders’ — in fact, a Montanan’s vote only counts for about three-fifths of a Rhode Islander’s. That America’s slave population was counted by the same ratio under the original Constitution is usually cited, rightly, as one of the document’s greatest sins. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Mississippi last month hopes to force Congress to remedy the status quo’s assault on the one-person, one-vote principle by increasing Congress to as many as a paltry 1,761 members.
THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS - FOUR YEARS AGO:
REGULAR READERS KNOW THAT WE ARE WAY OUT IN FRONT ON ISSUE AFTER ISSUE AFTER ISSUE.BOTTOM-LNE: The number of representatives was capped -BY STATUTE - in 1929; therefore, it can be undone by statute.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
A SIMPLE IDEA TO MAKE AMERICA'S GOVERNMENT EVEN MORE REPRESENTATIVE AND RESPONSIVEGlenn links to a review of the new Larry Sabato book which recommends 23 - YUP TWENTY-THREE! - amendments to the Constitution.
I have a simple idea which would improve both the responsiveness and representativeness of the federal government, and it would NOT require a single solitary change to the Constitution!
I would INCREASE the number of Representatives in the House to 600.
I would assign the new seats by using the US DECENNIAL CENSUS figures - exactly the purpose for which the Census was designed and put into the Constitution by the Framers.
These new seats would not be attached to an incumbent of any party and would therefore be open seats more readily contested fairly - (since incumbents have great electoral advantages and are returned to office so frequently).
Having more Representatives would make each district smaller and reduce the committee responsibilities of each representative and thereby allow her/him to do more constituent work - BE MORE RESPONSIVE.The number of representatives was capped -BY STATUTE - in 1929:The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929 capped the Membership at that level, creating a procedure for reapportioning state delegations in the House under “the then existing number of Representatives” (see Act of June 18, 1929, ch. 28, 46 Stat 21).It can be undone by statute. A simple majority vote by each body of Congress and a signature by the POTUS.
A body with 600 members is much more manageable now than a body with 420 in 1929. Many representative bodies in the USA and around the world have 600 members and function fine.This change would also have the added benefit of making the electoral college more representative and more accurately reflect the wishes of the people.
Friday, December 02, 2005
DECENNIAL RE-APPORTIONMENT AND THE CENSUSPOLIBLOGGER posted on an article by FRUITS AND VOTES. F&V suggested we expand the House of Representatives and make it more representative and responsive and districts more equal in population size by using "THE WYOMING RULE": Under the ‘Wyoming Rule,’ the standard Representative-to-population ratio would be that of the smallest entitled unit–i.e. currently Wyoming. (Poliblogger rans the numbers.) I AGREE: we need MORE Reps. But maybe not that many. Here're my thoughts:(1) The US CENSUS was specifically designed to allow for the ORDERLY EXPANSION of the House so that districts would be equal in size, and the number of districts would expand as the population expanded.I DARE A BRAVE CONGRESSMAN TO INTRODUCE THIS. It should get BI-PARTISAN SUPPORT, becasue open seats are VERY COMPETITIVE, and the GOP is VERY COMPETITIVE in the CITIES AND COUNTIES which have had the most growth.
(2) The problem is that since 1920, the number of districts has been frozen at 435. This was done by an ACT OF CONGRESS; it can be undone by an ACT OF CONGRESS, too. It doesn’t require a constitutional amendment.
(3) Since 1920, every decennial census has led MERELY TO RE-APPORTIONMENT: changes/shifts of Reps withing the 435. Some states get more Representatives other states get theirs reduced. Sometimes a state which has grown in population may have their number or Reps reduced because all states must have at least one Rep.
(4) The total number of Reps in the House could be and should be expanded - if not by the "Wyoming Plan" how about just increasing the number od reps in the House to a NICE ROUND NUMBER: 500 - by adding an additional 65 seats. (I think that 500 has a nice ring to it - especially for a nation of 50 states!) These could be/would be apportioned by population. Every ten years we dicide the population by 500 and distribute the seats accordingly.
(5) Average district size would be each smaller - and more representative, AS THE FOUNDERS ORIGINALLY PLANNED. More Reps would mean fewer committee assignments for each Rep and more constituent time. (Also, the advent and pervasiveness of hi-tech communications makes the management of a larger House less encumbering than in 1920, or since 1920. In fact, MANY national and state legislatures all over the world have many more mebers than we do and are larger than a mere 435. If they can mange it, then so can we.)
(6) As these 65 NEW SEATS would ALL BE OPEN SEATS, they’d be VERY competitive races at a time when most seats are NOT COMPETITIVE. That’s a good thing too. This would be A NEW BIRTH OF REPRESENTATION, which would NOT make government bigger, but make it MORE RESPONSIVE AND MORE REPRESENTATIVE.
ALSO: (7) This would change the ELECTORAL COLLEGE - making it even more reflective of the population.
- Posted by Reliapundit @ 5:22 PM ; Permalink; 22 Comments; Links to this post;
- DOING IT WOULD UNSETTLE INCUMBENCY AND CREATE A REBIRTH REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT.
- THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE.
- THE COUNTIES IN STATES WHICH HAVE HAD INCREASES IN POPULATION WOULD GET MORE SEATS.
[ER UM.... YES: THEY'RE MOSTLY RED STATES.... AND GEE: I WONDER WHY!? COULD IT BE THAT BLUE POLICIES OF HIGH TAXES AND LOW STANDARDS HAS CREATED HIGH CRIME/LOW PROFIT COUNTIES?! YES.]
- Posted by Reliapundit @ 6:44 PM ; Permalink;
AND THEY KNOW THAT WE REGULARLY POST ON EMERGING NEWS ITEMS BEFORE ANY OTHER BLOG -
AND WE ALWAYS DO SO WITH THE HARDEST-HITTING, LEANEST AND MEANEST ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY ANYWHERE.
SPREAD THE WORD.