A 10,000 Member House of Representatives?

This is a fun diary. I've added a poll about it to the main page--Chris

Okay, this one is a little over the top, but it isn't an April Fools joke. No question it would be hard (politically) to implement, but it's overdue for discussion, and I was asked if something like this followed from yesterday's diary. It does.

It's time to reorganize the Congress.

The House of Representatives has been stuck at 435 members for close to a century, resulting in members of the "People's House" who barely know the people, and whose campaigns cost so much, they spend all their time talking to contributors, not voters. This was not the intent of the founders, as can be seen by reading the Constitution.

The Senate's "all states are equal" status is a vestige of the Articles of Confederation. Years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that election districts should represent "one person - one vote". That is grossly violated in the Senate, and because our electoral system for President allocates Electoral votes according to representation in the House and Senate, less populated states are grossly overrepresented in the selection of the President.

House of Representatives

Under the original Constitution, the Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand. If that held today, Congress would number over 9800. Needless to say, the "People's House" is more remote from the people than it was then, and so long as membership is frozen at 435, it continues to grow more remote. The only thing stopping us from having 1000, or even 10,000 Representatives is the size of the House chamber. In this era of electronic voting and networks that is not an issue, except for ceremonial occasions like the State of the Union, which could take place at a sufficiently large auditorium away from the Capitol if necessary.


The Senate's "two Senators for every state regardless of size" is in marked contrast to "one person-one vote". Instead, one person in a small state may have 50 times the representation of one person in California. Senators should be allocated to the states by population, with the smallest states having one, and the larger ones allocated Senators by population. The size of the Senate should be enlarged to accomplish this, although not beyond a certain point in order to maintain the smaller and more collegial atmosphere of the upper house.

Tags: (all tags)



And I thought
10,000 Maniacs was just a band from the late 80's.
by Rabid Child 2005-04-01 03:40AM | 0 recs
gives us the opportunity to do all sorts of things..

We 'reengineer' corporations.. why not 'reengineer' the legislative branch of government..

We could have direct democracy now with the net.. People could get as involved as they wanted via the net..

No more smoky back rooms... Lobbying should be illegal.. the lobbyists should be making thir cases directly to the people..

Check out http://cbpp.org to see if the governments priorities match yours..

I bet they don't...

by ultraworld 2005-04-01 10:07AM | 0 recs
I have read serious discussion
that the House should, at least with the centennial census, return to the ratio at the turn of the 19th century of 100,000 voters per district.  That would make Gerrymandering pretty much moot.  But you would need a new building to meet in.
   It also occurred to me, that if each state and each district from around the country would provide a permanent official residence for its senator and representative, that there would be less upward pressure on salaries. That is, congressmen would not have to support two residences.  University professors receive that benefit.  
by prince myshkin 2005-04-01 05:08AM | 0 recs
Glad to know about the university professors
My university-professor wife must be holding out on me about that one.  Of course, the vast majority of universities do not offer any such benefit.  

However, you make a great point about congressional salaries.  We expect a great deal of a congressperson -- maintain contact with the home district and keep a residence there (and let's face it, you don't want that residence to be a hotel room, a la GHW Bush) as well as a DC-area residence in close proximity to the Capitol.  That's serious money we're talking about.  Congressional salaries are not at all out of line for what we expect of them.  

by Thirsty Gator 2005-04-01 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Glad to know about the university professors
Hey, sorry.  I meant university presidents.
by prince myshkin 2005-04-01 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: I have read serious discussion
wouldn't it make Gerry-mandering easier?

The more districts you have, the more you can divide people up.

by srolle 2005-04-01 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: I have read serious discussion
Can you get me information on that?  Intuitively I would have thought that the more representatives, the less likely it would be to draw the kind of district that followed I-85 through North Carolina.  A representative would have to be closer to his or her constituents.  If now, for example, a representative knows personally 10,000 voters, that is only 2% of the residents in his district.  Or maybe 4% of the voters.  That would multiply by five, to 10% and 20% respectively.  You would have a resonable chance of getting his or her ear, or becoming a thorn in his or her side.
by prince myshkin 2005-04-01 08:55PM | 0 recs
It's a political impossibility, of course
But I like it. I read something along these lines once before, I think, but had forgotten it.

Of course, if you want a truly representative body (and something even more impossible), you could go all the way, and randomly select 10,000 Americans to serve in the House for one session. Sort of a legislative draft. It would prevent politicians who have never been anything but politicians from making the laws. Of course, you'd also get some pretty weird people there too...

by Fitzy 2005-04-01 05:22AM | 0 recs
Not impossible at all.
We just have to flex our collective political muscle. Try it, you'll like it.
by rUD luvs U 2005-04-01 07:42AM | 0 recs
Powers that be
They aren't going to give up the stranglehold they have on our government.
by jcjcjc 2005-04-01 06:00AM | 0 recs
Whatever happened to the spirit of Can Do in the
by rUD luvs U 2005-04-01 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Whatever happened to the spirit of Can Do in t
When it comes to Can-Do, I try to look for things that can be done.

This can't.  I''m not convinced that corporations are really prepared to spend even more KStreet bribe money paying off 10,000 reps rather than 435.

Plus, with the current number, you figure there's a good chance that by seeding them with about $1 mil each, they're all thoroughly corrupt.

If you spread the current bribery pool out over 10,000, you're going to get fewer corrupt reps, and and even a few who might get UPSET about corruption.

by jcjcjc 2005-04-01 08:33AM | 0 recs
870 members
Glad to hear a little discussion on increasing the size of the House of Representatives.  The number has been stuck at 435 since the early 60's.  Before that, it routinely changed with population growth.

During the mid-term election, the democratatic leadership should go out on limb with this one and propose increasing the size of the House to around 870.  This number assumes that you would split each house district in half.

And for those concerned about reforming the  electoral college, increasing the number of representatives would easily solve many of the problems associated with the current imbalances.  And it would not require a constitutional amendment.

by d 2005-04-01 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: 870 members
This is a very good approach.  I like that number.

10,000 is just an unbelievable number.  The massive alteratiopn suggested would frighten potential supporters off.

by jcjcjc 2005-04-01 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: 870 members
Although going to the original Constitutional proportion would take us close to 10,000, you're probably right that that's too big a step. I think doubling the sixe of the House is too small a step, it doesn't bring the Representatives close enough to the people. Some folks have suggested one Representative per 100,000, and that may be about right.

New Hampshire by itself has a 400 person House. Everyone up there knows his representative. He's probably a neighbor. Maybe we can't get there ub the US Congress, but we should get closer.

by rich kolker 2005-04-01 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: 870 members
"the original Constitutional proportion would take us close to 10,000"

Well, the original Constitution included slavery, and ignored state systems where citizenship meant being part of the landed elite male.

So . . . clearly the Founding Fathers were wrong on a number of counts.  It's no big deal to tinker with what they left us.  It's like when your parents gave you a $400 car.  

by jcjcjc 2005-04-01 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: 870 members
the size was set by law in 1911, and has been at 435 since that law.  not since the 60s.  though it briefly went up to 437 to allow for hawaii and alaska to join.

the house passed the measure (dem house) in large part to dilute immigrant voting strength in the northeast.

by flavorflav12 2005-04-01 09:40AM | 0 recs
Electronic real-time democracy...
I think that we should (as an intirim measure) increase it to at least 1000, and study ways to allow the people to vote on laws directly.. (say, via the Internet)

We should also put all past and PENDING legislation online at least ten working days ahead of voting for comment, and if it is changed, restart the period..

And we should make metrics available in real time on hours in attendance, voting record and all contributions..

Contributions from corporate 'persons' (corporations, which are given the rights of people constitutionally) should be limited to the same size as contributions from natural persons.

by ultraworld 2005-04-01 10:02AM | 0 recs
10,000 is probably too many
But 750-1,500 might work. Everyone would benefit.
by Chris Bowers 2005-04-01 06:37AM | 0 recs
Re: 10,000 is probably too many
Right now its about 1 Representive for 630,000 people, I think it would make sense to make that number around 1 for every 200,000 people.  So that Congressional districts wouldn't streak for over a 100 miles in most cases, which would be a benifit to all.
by Painter2004 2005-04-01 06:58AM | 0 recs
Great way to fix the Electoral College
This would be a great way to fix the disparities in the Electoral College. Wyoming gets way too many electoral votes per person. You would not have to change the Senate--leave them with two senators each. Having the House be much bigger would dilute the effect of the Senate on the Electoral College. The small House is what is giving the small states too much power.
by TJonBergman 2005-04-01 07:17AM | 0 recs
by JamBoi 2005-04-01 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Great way to fix the Electoral College
The fairest way to set the representation rate for a  member of the House is to establish what the state with the lowest population is and set 1 Rep's value at that level.  The House total can be set at some fixed number as it is now or allowed to increase.  At least such a procedure establishes a floor for what a Representative's constituency should consis of.  Right now, it allows low population states to be over represented in both the Congress and the Electoral College.  Of course, such a procedure will gut the influence of the Mountain and Plains states,making all of that "red" territory even more worthless.
by VizierVic 2005-04-01 12:08PM | 0 recs
Would it make any difference?
Until the rules are changed to allow easier access by third parties to the ballot, I don't know if it would make any significant difference. You would still have two major parties largely representing the same constituencies.

Would increasing the number of politicians do anything to increase the diversity of viewpoints in Cogress? Would more representatives mean broader representation or increased complexity for lobbyists to take advantage of?

Complexity is one of the major obstacles to citizen participation now. Complexity hinders transparency. Would this change make the process more transparent or less transparent? Would this change make the process more open and accessible or less?

Theoretically, representing a smaller bloc of voters would magnify each individual voice, but I have seen little evidence that city councils are any more responsive to citizen concerns or any less responsive to the concerns of developers and other corporate interests.

Would we be doing anything except making a big problem even bigger?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-01 07:27AM | 0 recs
We need that too! Its not an either/or
by JamBoi 2005-04-01 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Would it make any difference?
It seems whenever I (or someone else) suggests a change to the system, someone pops up and says "Yes, but that won't really change anything unless you do X as well."

Perhaps, but you have to start somewhere, and increasing the size of the House of Representatives doesn't rule out something like the adoption of IRV.

Better is the opposite of Good
Joe Shea

by rich kolker 2005-04-01 07:32AM | 0 recs
Yeah, waz up w' dat?
by rUD luvs U 2005-04-01 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Would it make any difference?
I'm not opposed to the idea. I favor anything that improves citizen access and representation. My concern is that the increased size and complexity would give professional lobbyists even greater control and influence on the process than they already have.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-01 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Would it make any difference?
Would increasing the number of politicians do anything to increase the diversity of viewpoints in Cogress?

yes, the diversity of viewpoints would increase... and you would be more likely to have splinter parties, or small voting blocs, which would work across party lines to build majorities.

increasing the number of representatives would make it harder to build majorities, which would mean more deliberation, more inefficiency in decision making, and of course, more democracy.

by flavorflav12 2005-04-01 09:45AM | 0 recs
We seriously DO need to visit this issue. This has
been a concern of mine for a long time!  We need to figure out some way to get closer representation happening (and in a way to dilute the power of the individual congressperson -- because today as you point out it totally doesn't match the constitution or what the Framers conceived of).
by JamBoi 2005-04-01 07:28AM | 0 recs
Powers of the Individual Congressman
One of the really bad things with the current House is that the individual House member is basically a nonentity.  Power has gone upward into a very few hands (DeLay, Hastert).  Would a larger House have any effect on this?
by David Kowalski 2005-04-01 08:31AM | 0 recs
Simple Math
Enlarging the House would dilute the power of an individual House member.
by SLinVA 2005-04-01 05:48PM | 0 recs
MCI (or maybe Qwest?) Center as hall of govenance
Hmm... well... it's better than the old Capital Centre... the sightlines in the Capital Centre were dreadful. Least angled/tiered major sports arena seating area I ever went to.

MCI Center has lots of luxury boxes for the corporate sponsors of Congress and to watch over the legislative process. Good deficit reduction money available for rental of theose luxury suites to K Street lobbyists.

I'll bet you guys can't wait to see Hastert and DeLay on the video wall, too.

"Washington, D.C.'s dramatic landscape of patriotic and inspirational icons welcomes a building of motion and energy worthy of a place in the heart of the nation's capital-MCI Center. Area residents and millions of tourists will experience a unique combination of sports, entertainment and interactivity every day, all day. Located at 7th and F Streets NW, MCI Center is the state-of-the-art home of the NBA's Wizards, NHL's Capitals, WNBA's Mystics, Georgetown Hoyas plus big-time concerts, family shows and sporting events.

At 12 feet x 16 feet, MCI Center's SACO SMART VISION System is the largest video scoreboard of its kind to be placed in an arena. The SMART VISION System is an LED (light emitting diode) video system recognized for greater brightness and clarity. The 500 line resolution is equivalent to that of a true television image. LED systems are comprised of pixels that form the video images on the scoreboard.

Luxury Suites

Beginning just 19 rows from the playing surface, MCI Center's luxury suites feature a remote control television, private restroom, wet bar and access to all sporting events, family shows and concerts. There are 110 suites and 4 executive suites in MCI Center. Suite holders can enjoy membership at the exclusive Capital Club Restaurant catered by the award winning Levy Restaurants.

Video Walls
MCI Center's two video walls are located on the main concourse with two situated just inside the F Street entrance. The video walls are comprised of 40-inch cubes or 27-inch monitors, stacked three by three like a tic-tac-toe board. The Electrosonic walls can display one large image utilizing all nine screens or several smaller images made up of varied screen groupings. The video walls will present a 30-minute programming loop featuring upcoming event videos and a series of shorts highlighting historical moments in the worlds of Washington, D.C. sports, entertainment and politics.

Locker Rooms
Backstage at MCI Center includes seven performer's dressing rooms, the Wizards, Capitals, Mystics and Hoyas locker rooms and NBA and NHL visitors and officials locker rooms. The Wizards area includes a locker room, training room, steam room and hydrotherapy. The Capitals locker room includes a changing room, dressing room, training room, hydrotherapy and team lounge. The teams share a fitness room."


by afs 2005-04-01 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: naming rights
... sold in 2, 4, and 6 year contracts...

The Halliburton House... formerly the White House.

The Right Wing... formerly the West Wing.

The 700 Court... formerly the Supreme Court

The HMO/Pharmaceuticals Senate Office Building... formerly The Dirksen Senate Office Building

The Finance and Insurance Capital Building...

The Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrup-Grumman, BAE Systems, Raytheon Pentagon... formerly The Pentagon.

by Andrew C White 2005-04-01 09:06AM | 0 recs
Like and dislike
I like increasing the house, but support the 2 senators rule.  That compromise was important and gives all states an equal say.  However, decreasing their influence in the house would be neat to see.  
by yitbos96bb 2005-04-01 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: 10,000 member HofR?
Would it help if we could double the number of Senators from each state? Intuitively, it seems like that would increase the power of the small states compared to the larger states. I'm not sure.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-01 08:10AM | 0 recs
New York's 20th CD
consists of about 400,000 citizens spread out over all or parts of 10 counties. Case in point.

100k per district makes much more sense to me. It also opens the door much more easily to a system of proportional representation. The two combined bring the peoples house back to the people and make it that much more likely that regular people become representatives themselves and that all the myriad voices and points of view in this land are actually represented in government (in proportion to their prevalence within society).

In regard to the Senate... if we alter its makeup to be in relation to the population then why have a Senate at all?

The problem with the Senate makeup lies in the electoral college and not the Senate itself. This problem is mostly alleviated by making electoral college voting proportional as well.

by Andrew C White 2005-04-01 08:15AM | 0 recs
Why a Senate at All?
Even if a more proportional Senate was created:

  • Every state would be represented
  • Terms would still be longer and offset, leading to institutional memory and a more long term view of things
  • The body would still be much smaller, leading to a more collegial atmosphere
  • The rules would still be different
by rich kolker 2005-04-01 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Why a Senate at All?
This one...

"Terms would still be longer and offset, leading to institutional memory and a more long term view of things"

... is a good argument.

Every state is represented in the House as well. The advantage of the Senate is that every state is represented equally. A case can still be made for the validity of that (a case which cannot be made for the electoral college).

The rules... well... the rules appear to be dependent upon how corrupt, greedy, and blinded the party in power is.

I very much like your idea about expanding the House (though 10k seems impractical). I think the Senate should be left alone but that the electoral college votes should no longer be winner take all but rather proportional to the vote within each state.

Further, the House and state legislative districts and elections should be handled through a balanced system of proportional representation that allows for a mixture of geographic and proportional representation (for reference see Australia amongst other democracies)... so that states with large metropolitan areas as well as large rural areas can be justly and proportionaly represented.

Good stuff Rich.

by Andrew C White 2005-04-01 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: 10,000 member HofR?
I understand what you are saying, and I am speaking loosely when I say it is a vestage of the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles, each state had one vote in Congress. As you said, the small states (by population) liked this, the bigger states didn't, and the current system was a compromise when the Constitution was written.

The question is, in an era of "one person - one vote" it is still they way we want to run the nation. This is not an abolishment of the the states, and every state would still be guaranteed a voice in the Senate, but my voice in Virginia would be (more or less) the same as someone's voice in California or Wyoming. Right now, a Califonian has less voice than I do in the Senate, and a Wyomingan (Wyomingite?) has more.

I had not thought of increasing the size of the House as a way to fix (or at least make less broken) the Electoral College without a Constitutional amendment, but that would be the effect.

by rich kolker 2005-04-01 08:17AM | 0 recs
Every time there is one of these...
"Let's change things" ideas, I frequently see a very narrow focus on the perceived advantages without any consideration on the possible side affects to other aspects of the institutions of our government.

So the idea is that we increase the number of members, we will bring them closer to the voters, thereby diminishing the influence party leaders and interest groups will have in our government..

And it sounds like a good idea, if you only consider the aspect of representation.

But what about organization? What will be the result in the House of increasing members? How much harder will it be to get on Committees? How much harder will it be to get time on the floor for debate? How much will it slow down the amount of legislation that can be considered (remember, the overwhelming amount of business is non-partisan and necessary for the running of our government)?

Who will gain power as a result? The very people you are seeking to preclude from the process!

Party leaders will gain more control over their party rank and file as being able to get to all those choice situations will still be controlled by the party.

You will make it even easier for the interest groups to control the process as they can now spend their money more efficiently as you have narrowed the power beam for them to control...

And finally, you have given the Executive more power in relation to the legislative body by increasing the collective action problem within the House.

Don't even talk about the impact on the Senate! Goodby filibuster, hello committees, limited debate and majority party rule....

by Nazgul35 2005-04-01 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Every time there is one of these...
That's my initial impression as well. It seems like a solution that adds complexity and reduces transparency. I don't see the advantage from a process point of view.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-01 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Every time there is one of these...
a major advantage is the procedural safeguards a greater house provides.  moreover, there are likely to be less expensive congressional races as a result... thereby encouraging more direct campaigning.  plus you get to lay off a lot of staffers since the congressman of a district smaller than most cities can answer his or her own damn phone!
by flavorflav12 2005-04-01 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Every time there is one of these...
What are the procedural safeguards?

Less expensive congressional races, but more of them?

I'm not aware of many city council members who answer their own phone. I think it is more likely that we would get duplicative staff bureaucracies.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-01 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Every time there is one of these...
I frequently see a very narrow focus on the perceived advantages without any consideration on the possible side affects to other aspects of the institutions of our government.

Your criticism also has its own shortsightedness.

So the idea is that we increase the number of members, we will bring them closer to the voters, thereby diminishing the influence party leaders and interest groups will have in our government..

And it sounds like a good idea, if you only consider the aspect of representation.

That is what Congress is all about, remember? Representation. The closer the representation is to the people, the better, I think all would agree.

But what about organization?

By this you are referring to caucusing. I think that with a larger population representing more diverse interests, you will see caucusing that reflects local common interests. That is as it is now. With more members, the more diverse the caucusing and the more diverse the input and debate into legislation.

What will be the result in the House of increasing members?

Better representation.

How much harder will it be to get on Committees?

There will probably be more committees to go around, and a larger pool of qualified legislators to populate them. Committee structure will follow the needs of the members and their constituents.

How much harder will it be to get time on the floor for debate?

First, let us consider the notion of floor debate. If technology is leveraged in order to allow representatives serving from home, then you simply don't have an actual 'floor' to 'debate' on.

Second, have you ever watched C-SPAN during debate? The chambers are usually empty. The way to get floor time seems to be to show up and have something to say. Everyone is out at committee meetings or raising cash.

Third, a great deal of debate today is so much grandstanding, and we rarely see orators of note handing down speeches for the ages from either chamber of late. Let them post opinions and votes on their House/Senate member blogs. The best writing/argument will be rated up. It will (I actually should say, it COULD) naturally drive healthy debate.

How much will it slow down the amount of legislation that can be considered (remember, the overwhelming amount of business is non-partisan and necessary for the running of our government)?

I think a great deal of legislating that goes on has less to do with writing good law than with scoring partisan points. A lot of it is a waste of time. I don't see a need for national-whatever-it-is day proclamations taking up 'floor' time. When you really think about how much time is spent in debate, you have to wonder why we send them to live in DC full time ANYHOW.

Who will gain power as a result? The very people you are seeking to preclude from the process!

Okay, let's knock these down... First of all,  the people will gain from this.

Party leaders will gain more control over their party rank and file as being able to get to all those choice situations will still be controlled by the party.

The rise of local power and local issues will drive power to the local level. Party bosses will face a harder time getting elected by pulling in favors, as fewer will be available to hand out, and favors would carry less sway.

You will make it even easier for the interest groups to control the process as they can now spend their money more efficiently as you have narrowed the power beam for them to control...

I think this is completely wrong. With a large increase in House members, all serving from home, you price special interests out of the game: rather than a central DC office, they have to set up thousands of local offices. Et voila, bye bye special interests.

And finally, you have given the Executive more power in relation to the legislative body by increasing the collective action problem within the House.

I think the opposite is true: by increasing the house, it balances what has become an imperial presidency.

I think we can leave the Senate alone. It serves its purpose fine. It is meant to balance a large house, anyhow. Again, I refer people to http://www.thirty-thousand.org/index.htm.

by pjt48108 2005-04-01 02:39PM | 0 recs
Every one of your points
runs counter to actual the studies of institutions....

I invite your to browse through the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Electoral Studies to start....

Names to look for: Krehbiel, Rohde, Cox and McCubbins, Weingast, SInclair....

Topic areas: Institutional rules, legislative process, committees....

After you are done with the American aspect, I can point you to much that has been done in a Comparative vein....

by Nazgul35 2005-04-01 05:01PM | 0 recs
Here's how you do It...
Direct proxy Democracy. The 10,000 member house would naturally get divided up into other workable units. The current building would be used as a media center only.

This this description of Direct proxy Democracy by James Armytage-Green. His idea is a whole country non-binding one but that's for do-ability's sake.

Direct Democracy here

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-04-01 08:58AM | 0 recs
Why couldn't this work?

Here is one way:

Each state would send two representatives (one for each party- they could even be paid staffers) to represent their parties votes in the House Chamber.  

So, let's say Kansas has 80 Representatives, 60 Republican and 20 Democrat.  The Republican Rep in Washington ensures he is able to either record the vote on the spot or that each of his people is on-line and available to vote electronically.  Same with the Dem.

Delegations could even elect "Majority leader" and "minority leader" to represent the state in Washington itself-- this would provide a great stepping stone for House members seeking higher office-- while votes are held over a secure electronic network.

As for the Senate- perhaps if the House really is the "People's House" then it works to have the Senate remain as is.

by jgkojak 2005-04-01 09:16AM | 0 recs
Amendment Nine
Blogger Federalist X is actually doing research on this very topic.  I'll let him introduce his own argument, but for my part, I would say that you are getting one thing very wrong in your prelude to the idea when you say:

Under the original Constitution, the Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand. If that held today, Congress would number over 9800.

What you're missing is that "that" did hold, currently the number of Reps does not exceed 1:30K.  Its 1:600K, which is less.  A small, but nevertheless crucial thing to get right.  Also, note, that the 1:30K ratio was argued up from 1:40K after George Washington bitched that the latter was too big.

Finally, according to the research Fed. X has shared with me, it seems that Congress grew in direct proportion of the population, following the cube root line on the population, over the first 100 yrs of America.  Do that today and you'll end up with a Congress of just under 600.  Not quite 9800, but then again, a good deal better than 435.

by flavorflav12 2005-04-01 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Amendment Nine
Hm, another interpretation of the Constitution issue.

I interpret "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand," as that the 30K shall not be raised, but I can see how it might (maybe even should) be interpreted the other way.

In either case, I'm in favor of increasing the size of the House substantially, although even I don't favor a 10,000 person House.

by rich kolker 2005-04-01 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Amendment Nine
well, i think by interpretation, you mean: "understanding", because honestly you are just misunderstanding the issue here, it isn't a question of legal interpretation, its a question of fact.  you simply have it wrong.
by flavorflav12 2005-04-01 09:55AM | 0 recs
Well, I'll be damned
I was just going to suggest a cube-root rule, but you beat me to it.

Although I had in mind applying it to the entire U.S. population, not just the portion eligible to register to vote. That would result in a House of about 670 members.

by Mathwiz 2005-04-01 10:40AM | 0 recs
10,000 Congressmen?
While it's true that having more Representatives would force them to be closer to the people, it would make the body so unsustainable that the President would have so much more power.  Individual Reps would be virtually powerless, because their vote would be 1/10,000, and corrupt leaders like Tom Delay would be running the show even more than they are now.

Having 10,000 Representatives makes me think of that scene from "the Phantom Menace" with the vast Imperial Senate of the Old Republic.  

But it's clear that we need some balance.  At least expand the House to 600 members -- for now.  

by Paul Hogarth 2005-04-01 09:33AM | 0 recs
Re: 10,000 Congressmen?
an additional solution, after increasing the raw size as your propose to 600, would be to elect congressmen at large from each state... that would effectively increase each congressman's individual leverage as to the executive, especially in the tight electoral atmosphere we find ourselves in today.
by flavorflav12 2005-04-01 09:48AM | 0 recs
"At large," or by PR?
Be careful. If by "at large," you mean the whole state gets to vote on every Congressmember, you'd ensure practically all-D or all-R delegations from each state. Not to mention destroying any chance for minorities to influence any of the elections. Might as well just repeal the Voting Rights Act and be done with it.

I think what you really want is to elect Congressmembers by proportional representation, so people would vote for party lists. If, say, Texas goes 60% R to 40% D, the R's get 60% of TX's seats and the D's get 40%. No more need for gerrymandering.

Proportional representation would also help minor parties win a few seats, at least in the larger states.

by Mathwiz 2005-04-01 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: "At large," or by PR?
no, i mean at large.  and i don't think it would eliminate minority representation because the majority votes would split over a wider selection of potential candidates.  its just a secondary idea anyway, not something that is really necessary.  however, increasing the size of the house is necessary.  if we applied the same level of representation we have today to the house of 1789, there would be fewer members in the house than in the senate... clearly not the intent of the system.
by flavorflav12 2005-04-03 07:21AM | 0 recs
Re: 10,000 Congressmen?
Right.  The same image came to mind for me:


by pammo 2005-04-01 11:02AM | 0 recs
there are drawbacks
Does it really increase participation and decrease money-dirven politics?

The more representatives, less media coverage of individual members get around big votes. It would make selling votes much easier. House members are heavily influenced by money, but compare that to the  state senate here in Illinois. Special interests used to hold up color-coded flash card on the balcony to instruct their guys how to vote.

No meaningful power means less civic activism. Think about the difference in attention a house , a senate, a presidential candidate gets. The less a politician's vote counts, the less people care about who is doing the voting. The only groups that have a lot at stake in a election would be a group who could back a chunk of candidates. The only people who can back a chunk of cadidates are special interests.

by srolle 2005-04-01 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: there are drawbacks
Is it possible that, given a reasonable campaign finance reform law, that representatives wouldn't need a great deal of money?  They would need to be plugged into their local area.  It may be different in blue states, but in my red state, there is very little coverage at all in the press, or any media of where any candidates stand on issues.  Campaigns are largely word of mouth. Candidates visit the Rotary Club and start out on the school board or city council.  The only issues people even seem to notice are what "pork" the congressman can bring in.  Which may explain the way red states vote.
by prince myshkin 2005-04-01 09:37PM | 0 recs
food for thought ....
If every Congressman represented 30,000 people, that would mean that an individual Congressmen from Chicago would represent less than half of the people currently represented by an aldreman on the Chicago City Council.  

Of course, here in California, State Senators currently represent more people than members of Congress.  Which is insane.

by Paul Hogarth 2005-04-01 10:54AM | 0 recs
Yes, Yes, Yes!
10,000 is a good number, though any expansion would be a move in the right direction. It would:

  • Make the House too unwieldy for effective top-down control;

  • Reduce District size to make Representatives more accountable to constituents; and

  • Increase House size so that it can't all meet in one room any longer. (I would take this opportunity to move state delegations to state capitols and let votes take place electronically by remote. This increases the decentralizing effect and keeps the government closer to its constituents.)
by catastrophile 2005-04-01 11:09AM | 0 recs
Small Increase
1,000 Representitives is just unimaginable, and incomprehensible, but I do think there should be more.  Washington DC and Puerto Rico should both be given statehood or fair representation in Congress (both Houses).  
by Max Friedman 2005-04-01 12:01PM | 0 recs
Glad to see this meme spreading...
I have been racking my brains over this topic for the last four or five years, now. A few months ago I was doing web research on it, and found a web site that pretty much summed up my thoughts. I advise you all to surf on over to http://www.thirty-thousand.org/index.htm and check it out.
by pjt48108 2005-04-01 01:46PM | 0 recs
Compared to other countries...
the U.S. has a very uncharacteristic lower legislative body:

U.S. House of Representatives...435 seats, 281 million citizens, hence 647,000 citizens/seat, with $31,059 per capita GDP yields $19.7 billion/seat

Australia House of Representatives...148 seats, 19.1 million citizens, hence 129,000 citizens/seat, with $20,125 per capita GDP yields $2.6 billion/seat

Great Britain House of Commons...659 seats, 59 million citizens, hence 89,500 citizens/seat, with $23,934 per capita GDP yields $2.1 billion/seat

France Assemblee Nationale...577 seats, 59 million citizens, hence 102,000 citizens/seat, with $24,739 per capita GDP yields $2.5 billion/seat

Germany Bundestag...669 seats, 83 million citizens, hence 124,000 citizens/seat, with $26,183 per capita GDP yields $3.2 billion/seat

Canada House of Commons...301 seats, 31.3 million citizens, hence 104,000 citizens/seat, with $19,439 per capita GDP yields $2.0 billion/seat

Japan Diet/House of Representatives...511 seats, 127 million citizens, hence 249,000 citizens/seat, with $29,956 per capita GDP yields $7.5 billion/seat

Russia Duma...439 seats, 146 million citizens, hence 333,000 citizens/seat, with $1,936 per capita GDP yields $0.6 billion/seat

Israel Knesset...120 seats, 5.8 million citizens, hence 48,300 citizens/seat, with $17,041 per capita GDP yields $0.8 billion/seat

Indonesia Peoples Representative Congress...462 seats, 225 million citizens, hence 487,000 citizens/seat, with $478 per capita GDP yields $0.2 billion/seat

India Lok Sabha...545 seats, 1014 million citizens, hence 1,860,000 citizens/seat, with $422 per capita GDP yields $0.7 billion/seat

So, the U.S. House is disproportionately "dilute" in representation per citizen relative to other contries (save India), and disproportionately "wealthy" relative to anyone else.

To bring the House back to pre-1911 representative ratios would require a membership of over 1300, which would put citizens/seat and $/seat more in line with the rest of the world.  Not to mention the Electoral College fix, the negative effect on gerrymandering, and the dilution of special interest election funding.

The population ratios of the 5 most populous states to the 5 least populous states has remained pretty constant in the 30-34 range over the last 100 years, except for the 1960 census, when Alaska and Hawaii skewed the ratio to 37.9.  Hence the power of small states relative to big states in making laws would be unchanged.  The ONLY power shift would be the Electoral College.

Thanks for slogging through this long post...

by GreginFL 2005-04-01 03:10PM | 0 recs
Pie in the sky
Pie in the sky.

Changing the makeup of the Senate would take a Consitutional amendment.  Take a look around -- does anyone here think that political environment is right for such an amendment to pass?  Is it really something we should consider expending any energy on.

Amendments can be passed either retail, or wholesale.  The retail process is pretty much closed to us, with the legislature is in the hands of the GOP, so that leaves the wholesale approach: a Constitutional Convention.

Superficiailly, that sounds like a good idea, a chance to iron out any number of problems in the Constitution, but in reality it's a terrible one that we should hold off with every fiber of our being.  A Constitutional Convention held now, under the current political circumstances, would be hijacked by the right to pass all sorts of dandy changes to the Constitution which none of us would be happy with, and which would be nearly impossible to get rid of.

Wishing to make progressive changes via changing the Constitution is a mug's game right now.  Even the right, so much in the ascendant, can't get their anti-flag-burning and anti-gay-marriage amendments off the ground, and they're the ones who're running things.  We have no chance of getting ours passed, no matter hoe worthwhile they may be.

by Ed Fitzgerald 2005-04-01 05:20PM | 0 recs
And No Support
There's just no support for the idea among the general public or members of Congress. The current House members have no incentive to dilute their own status by increasing the size of the body, and the public doesn't seem to have much interest. If the idea was suggested, most folks would be appalled at doubling the spending on Congressional salaries, staff and office buildings. Not going to happen even if it is interesting on a theoretical level.
by SLinVA 2005-04-01 05:57PM | 0 recs
"order of magnitude"
The posted poll asks us to select our prefered total number of U.S. House members.  But what if it had asked voter's preferred rep/constituent ratio (without peeking at the current ratio)?  

I don't know if there is a natural ratio, but the idea that jumps out at me as a means of selling the idea is 'order of magnitude', meaning going from 435 to 4350 (as i understand the term)

This idea of House reform is attractive to me if it invigorates the institution, increases transparency and nearest-to-direct democracy (the Houses original role, no?) and addresses concerns with the electoral college.

by cargocult 2005-04-02 09:39AM | 0 recs
Late reply
I'm new here and I know this is an old subject, but I had to reply. I think the House should increase the house by 200 members and the nation be divided into regions: North, South, East and West with state  so when the census came out the districts would be allocated by region and a regional commission distribute the regions seats to states, but still be maintained within each states lines and be drawn by a regional redistricting council.
by docconnelly 2005-05-06 02:11PM | 0 recs
Re: A 10,000 Member House of Representatives?

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by jonnylee 2006-09-09 02:40PM | 0 recs


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