The Project To Fix Congress

Was stumbling around the web (so you don’t have to) and came onto a site called TCOT (Top Conservatives On Twitter).  I’m not on Twitter.  I’m waiting for the #1 daughter to come back from school later this month to help her hipsterless old man through the process.  But I digress.

One of the topics on the TCOT website is called “Conservative Activists Can Get Involved in These Projects:” and lists a series of topics and fun activities.  One of them is, “The Project To Fix Congress“.  Their goal is to cut congressional districts in half, double the number or representatives and, so the theory goes, “return to representative government.”  This will not work.

  1. It will not affect the Senate.  If the goal is to actually create a proportionally representative government, you have to get rid of the Senate.  I don’t want to go there.  The Senate serves the purpose for which it was created, which is to stifle the populist tendencies of the representative body, which would be aggravated by making it larger.
  2. I believe originally, each representative represented about 33,000 people.  If you tried to to maintain that ratio today, the House would have over 9,000 members.  What’s the value of a deliberative body if it’s so big, the first thing it has to do is elect a representative legislative body to represent itself?
  3. Decreasing the size of legislative districts will only increase the political stratification in the House.  There is a reason that House members from small states tend not to be the hard core radical partisans some other representatives are.  It’s because the representatives from small states have to appease all or most of the state, just like the state’s senators.  The hardcore partisan representatives come from highly populated areas with very small congressional districts.  Through decades of gerrymandering these districts have come to represent one party or local interest group to the exclusion of all else.  Those representatives have absolutely no need to compromise because their hand picked constituency will keep sending them back for as long at the representative chooses.   Increasing the number of representatives will result in even more polarization since the smaller districts will allow even more focusing on single issue constituencies.
  4. The problem with Congress is not that there aren’t enough members.  The problem is that only a dozen or so matter.  All of the power is concentrated in the hands a few members who owe their power to their seniority.  And since those inbred gerrymandered districts so reliably return their chosen (or chooser) representative back over and over, the seniority system concentrates the power into the hands of the most partisan hacks.  Freshmen representatives are powerless in this system and to increase their power, they have to play along with the inbred political hacks who run the place.  Increasing the number of representatives will not reduce this tendency.

The cure for most of what ails Congress is term limits.  Before any other modification is made there, making members stand in the corner if they don’t read their bills, imposing means tests to keep rich people from running for office, or whatever…term limits need to be imposed.

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