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A “People's House” or an oligarchy?

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JEQuidam Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-15-08 10:35 AM
Original message
A “People's House” or an oligarchy?
Many people do not realize that our total number of congressional districts (and therefore our total number of Representatives in the U.S. House) has been limited to 435 ever since 1913 (except for a four-year period when it was temporarily increased to 437).

In 1929, this number (435) was made permanent by an act of Congress. During the debates preceding that act, Missouri Representative Ralph Lozier stated:
I am unalterably opposed to limiting the membership of the House to the arbitrary number of 435. Why 435? Why not 400? Why not 300? Why not 250, 450, 535, or 600? Why is this number 435 sacred? What merit is there in having a membership of 435 that we would not have if the membership were 335 or 535? There is no sanctity in the number 435 ... There is absolutely no reason, philosophy, or common sense in arbitrarily fixing the membership of the House at 435 or at any other number.

The challenge posed by Representative Lozier in 1928 is still valid: is 435 a sacrosanct number or should it be subject to debate?

Many of those who framed and ratified the Constitution & Bill of Rights expected that the population of congressional districts would never exceed 50,000. Today their average size is 700,000; by 2100 their average size will be 1.3 million. As a result, it is no longer possible for federal Representatives to faithfully and honorably represent the diverse interests of their constituents. This could be the root cause of why our government has become “broken” and, in any case, violates the principle “That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed” (from the Declaration of Independence).

Related to this matter is the fact that the very first amendment proposed in our Bill of Rights was never ratified. As proposed by the House, “Article the first” was intended to ensure that the district size never exceeded 50,000 people. While this amendment was in the Joint Committee, a subtle error was somehow introduced into it that rendered it inexecutable. It is not known when this error was eventually detected, but the amendment was ultimately ratified by all but one state. This very interesting and important story can be found at:
http://enlargethehouse.blogtownhall.com/default.aspx (for red people) or at
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/11/2/151816/917 (for blue people)
Both articles are identical and contain links to supporting materials.

This is a non-partisan issue.
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mac2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-16-08 05:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. I have always wondered why
Edited on Fri May-16-08 05:23 PM by mac2
we have less representatives than Germany and Britain when they are a lot smaller than us.

Forget getting in touch or talking with your representatives in large states such as Illinois, NY, and CA...

They have so many constituents they complain they can't answer all or please all of them (Obama the most recent). They do act like little Lords. Bush says his job is so hard (well he's king). I'd like to tell them to get out of the kitchen but I can't get near them.

You are right we have to increase representation and have a Presidential election by popular vote with primary on the same date across the nation. That way small states such as Iowa can't decide before the rest of us.

"Many of those who framed and ratified the Constitution & Bill of Rights expected that the population of congressional districts would never exceed 50,000." That way we can have citizen representatives not lifetime egos in power (who steal and betray us).

That is a worthwhile ratification to reverse what was originally there in the first place.

I like the ranking of candidates who win too.

It's the only way to save our democracy from oligarchy type rule like today.

Thanks for this interesting post. It's something I wondered about in the past.

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JEQuidam Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-17-08 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. More information...
>>> It's the only way to save our democracy from oligarchy type rule like today.

Exactly right, and thank you for that reply!!

It is important for people to understand that as a result of these 435 congressional fiefdoms, we the people have become subjects instead of citizens. Today, the Representatives' primary constituents are the powerful special interests which can deliver huge sums of money and/or large voting blocks. The citizens have become (on a good day) the Representatives' secondary constituency.

There is one thing upon which people across the political spectrum agree: our government is broken. We are kept busy arguing amongst ourselves about why the government is broken, while the real underlying cause is the massively oversized congressional districts. This misunderstanding of the problem contributes to the excessive polarization in the political discussions among the citizenry. (Most people are not all "right" or "left", instead we are a complex mix of views on many subjects.) The two-party duopoly on political power depends on maintaining this polarization which is largely artificial at the generalized level (though, of course, it may be real for any specific issue within a complex mix of many issues being debated).

Please read the 15 Questions & Answers on the Thirty-Thousand.org home page at
http://www.Thirty-Thousand.org (No ads or pop-ups.)
This page provides the arguments for why we should replace 435 politicians with 6,000 citizen representatives.

For further information, this page provides a list of articles and papers written by a variety of authors (across the political spectrum):
http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/Why_435.htm

And, regardless of how one feels about reducing the size of our congressional districts (and thereby increasing their number) the interesting story of Article the first should not be overlooked. Why was the very first amendment inscribed in our Bill of Rights never ratified after it was affirmed by all but one state? Why does the final version (produced at the last minute in a joint committee) contain a fundamental mathematical defect that was not in the original versions proposed by the House and Senate? Why has this interesting amendment been completely forgotten for the last two centuries? The amendment can be read (with its final defective wording) at this link:
http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/BoR_text.htm
A full report (PDF) is available from this page:
http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/QHA-04.htm (It's a lengthy report.)
(Also see the links in the original posting.)

Thirty-Thousand.org is a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
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mac2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-17-08 11:50 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. People have been rapped up in this primary for over a year.
Meanwhile we lose our democracy.

A new meeting house for the "people's representatives" needs to happen soon. A ratification process to bring us back to our Constitution, etc. We are on the brink of Fascism.
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PATRICK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-23-08 11:36 AM
Response to Original message
4. A lazy question
which I could and should research myself. What is the numerical district representation in other nations, comparable or not to our own? 6000 reps seems to have an unworkable dynamic whose implications cannot be presumed to be all positive. How does it work in, say, India though?
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JEQuidam Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-27-08 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. A lazy answer...
Almost all the work has already been done. The Thirty-Thousand.org web pamphlet provides over a half a gig of information. There is a Google search tool on the home page.

>> What is the numerical district representation in other nations, comparable or not to our own? 6000 reps seems to have an unworkable dynamic whose implications cannot be presumed to be all positive. How does it work in, say, India though?

See: http://www.thirty-thousand.org/pages/section_III.htm#B (no ads or pop-ups)
scroll down to the "donought chart" and see the link under that chart (for additional info).
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katherine20 Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-27-08 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. maybe 500?
A balance is needed. The number should be increased, but if a new cap is not put into place, politicans will keep raising it until the body becomes so large, party leaders will have all the power. I think 500 is the right number (actually, 499 and then giving DC a seat!).
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JEQuidam Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-28-08 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Increasing the number of representatives in the U.S. House
Katherine20, you said: "The number should be increased, but if a new cap is not put into place, politicans will keep raising it until the body becomes so large, party leaders will have all the power."

Actually, the politicians and the parties are quite opposed to increasing the number of Representatives. An oligarchy does not like to enlarge its numbers. This is true for both parties.

Only Alcee Hastings has proposed increasing the number of Representatives. As I understand it, he has proposed this every two years, but has been ignored by Congress. Here is Representative Hasting's House Resolution 1989 (109th Congress, 1st session):
http://www.fairvote.org/?page=863
His bill would establish a commission to “analyze the current size of the membership of the House of Representatives considering the requirement for the institution to carry out its responsibilities in an effective manner under the challenges of the new century;” among other things.

Here is Representative Hasting's "Dear Colleague" Letter:
http://www.fairvote.org/?page=866
“In the past 90 years, the U.S. has become the second most underrepresented democracy in the entire world, but the size of the House of Representatives has remained the same. In the past 90 years, U.S. population has more than tripled, but the size of the House of Representatives has remained the same.”

Unless the number of federal congressional districts are substantially increased there will no longer be any minority-majority districts. 300,000,000 Americans should be allowed to have more than 435 federal Representatives.

Thirty-Thousand.org is a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
http://www.Thirty-Thousand.org
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JEQuidam Donating Member (22 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-30-08 04:21 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. End the two-party duopoly
katherine20: "...The number should be increased, but if a new cap is not put into place, politicans will keep raising it until the body becomes so large, party leaders will have all the power...."

It is the politicians and the Parties that are opposed to increasing the size of the House. This is because increasing the number of reps will *reduce* the power of the Parties, not increase their power! This is an important point to understand.

Walter Williams, the conservative/libertarian economist, makes that point this way: "restricting the number of representatives confers significant monopoly power that goes a long way toward explaining the stranglehold the two parties have and the high incumbent success rates. It might also explain the power of vested interest groups to influence congressional decisions." Read his article at:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/19/politic... /

Thirty-Thousand.org is a non-partisan and non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
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I Am So Me Donating Member (15 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-23-10 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. We Lost Our Democracy A Long Time Ago
when we allowed conservatives to vote and be represented. Any real American is a true liberal, and only true liberals represent a true democracy. Nobodyh else should have the right to vote or be representative. Liberals are morally superior to everybody else.

Our government belongs to liberals and absoplutely nobody else.

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