Congress Is Broken. So Let's Make it Bigger


Originally each House member was to represent no less than 30,000 citizens. Today each House member represents about 650,000 citizens. Doubling the size of the House would be a good start, but expanding it by a factor of 20 would restore the original proportions.

On the state level our local House members represent only about 70,000 citizens each. The difference in accessibility is noticeable. I've talked in person with each state House member and received personal responses to letters I've written. I can't say the same for any of our federal congressional delegation.
Not a bad idea, but wouldn't it have to wait until some time in the future when the Democrats control the House again? How would you propose forcing a Republican-held House to pass a law increasing the size of the House?

@2 Yes, but you need to start having the conversation now, so that Dems can run on it.

This is asinine, we don't need twice as many partisan chucklefucks driving the country into the ground. We certainly don't need more politicians, it is bad enough we have the ones we got.

I say fire everyone in the District of Corruption.
@4 We do fire 'em. Every two years. And then, thanks in part to gerrymandering, we hire them all right back again.

I was thinking, "We need some kind of visual proof demonstrating why smaller districts would be less gerrymandered." And here is is Exhibit A. This proposal has to be explained better so the groundlings can understand what it does.
7 is stupid not to try to fix it.

Thank you for typing "to try to" rather than "to try and..." I seem to encounter that everywhere lately, and it drives me crazy.
I'm more interested in how the districts are drawn than how many at this point.

The real "gerrymandering" is using physical location of any sort to define the group of people who get to vote for a "representative".

In this way, they keep any vaguely innovative or dissenting opinion out of Congress.

Imagine if any 500,000 anywhere in America could get together, online, and form a voting bloc and elect a representative who was truly that.

So, a kickboxer in Iowa, an Uber car driver in Seattle and a gun club owner in Texas, all of whom were left of center social liberals and fiscal libertarians could elect someone close to their views.

Why not? I mean, when someone asks me where I live, I say "The Internet". It is true. I can travel anywhere on a cheap Southwest flight, find a room in a Holiday Inn Express with free WiFiand HDMI, used the gym and find the nearest modern open air, "towne" style shopping mall. I live everywhere. So let me choose my House Representative in that way.
The Founding Fathers were very suspicious of "naked" popular representation, hence the Electoral College, and the original selection process for Senators.The House was envisioned as the radical lower populist chamber. (Ha!) Electing House members per overall %rate of party votes per state would also achieve a better balance, without 50 states fighting over district boundaries.
I've got a counter-proposal which (I think) is more feasible: enact a law requiring congressional districts to align with zip code boundaries. Zip codes are efficiently distributed across the map and sized proportional to population density, and are not gerrymandered. They are relatively much smaller than congressional districts, so many of them would be needed to build each district. Gerrymandering would still be possible, of course, and in some cases it is even desired to ensure equitable representation.

I think this proposal would add a small measure of sanity to the process.

Heck, representative democracy is obsolete. Born in the days of Committees of Correspondance sending messages in satchels carried by horsemen.

We "vote" with dollars every night on Amazon in the 2010s.

No one questions the safeguards.

Why can't we vote every night online directly?!

"direct democracy" usually refers to citizens making policy and law decisions in person, without going through representatives and legislatures. The classic example of this is the New England Town Meeting where anyone from the town who wants to show up to debate and vote on town policy can do so. Until recently, this worked for scores of communities, but low attendance at many modern town meetings has raised questions about whether they are truly democratic.…
What you are proposing sounds like the very first proposed amendment to the Constitution.…
1. you can gerrymander small districts as easily as larger ones.
2. if corruption in districting the problem, aim at that, as the solution.
3. could pass a federal law creating a way to challenge based on gerrymandering.
4. if we can't end the filibuster, there's no hope for any other reforms, and most of the time the problem isn't the R's it's some D standing in the way of sensible reform.
5. isn't it weird that folks hate things like gerrymandering,k which diminishes the one person one vote principle, yet are perfectly content to allow DC residents to be ruled with 600,000 persons and NO votes in congress, and Puerto Rico with 5.5 million persons and NO votes in congress. I mean come on, you're complaining about D voting strength being diluted but 6.5 million have no basic voting rights in the first place.
Gerrymandering is also why we are so polarized. The lopsided districts means that the extreme candidates make it through the primary. A simple solution is to require that each district is a polygon of no more than six sides and one side maybe a natural border such as a river.
If congressional districts aligned with zip codes (and if zip codes were all approximately the same population) it would be about 15 minutes before they went gerrymandered. In any case congress seems hell bent on destroying the postal service so zip codes may not

I like the bigger congress idea. The physical size of the chamber isn't even a big problem. The British parliaments house can't hold everybody and they've managed to get by for a long long time. I do wonder how 800 plus could get anything done though.

Gerrymandering is also at the root of Republican-backed proposals in several states to switch to a Maine-style electoral vote apportionment system (by majority of each district, and the other two by the majority in the state).
Goldy, there's a huge difference between non-partisan and bi-partisan! Our state redistricting process is bi-partisan, and the result is total gerrymandering in favor of incumbents of both parties.

I hear that California has adopted non-partisan redistricting, but I've seen nothing about how it works and what the results were. (Both of our states, alas, have the atrocious top-two primary which freezes out third parties and sets up many intra-party battles in November elections. Republicans in my legislative district could choose only between two liberal Democrats last November, essentially leaving them with no choice at all.)
Haven't 3 states tried to deal with the gerrymander issue? However, a larger House could be one way to avoid the concentration of power the way we see it today. For example, Eric Cantor has only one responsibility: to represent his 7th Congressional district in Virginia. I looked at the statistics of that district. The average house is worth $188,000. The income, and demographics of the district would indicate that they do not benefit from his presence in Congress. And his naked ambition to replace Boehner indicates that he could give two shits about his district. It's about power.

So if the caucus is larger, then there are fewer ways that just a few knuckleheads can grab power and muscle the country to its knees---callously with no regard for the actual nation.

We need our own IDLE NO MORE as it pertains to these fuckheads.

We could divvy up the house by states, and then within the states divvy up the seats by voter age. These days, most 20 year olds have more in common, no matter where they live, than the current geographic setup. Except for a couple states with very few representatives of their own ( I'm looking at you, North Dakota ), we could divvy up the voting age population by decade, and let the 18-28 year olds actually vote for a rep that would represent their interests, instead of almost all of them focusing on issues benefiting the elderly and middle aged folks.

One way to counter this political bickering would be to introduce a policy of direct democracy into the houses of both congress. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, on a major political issue that affects the American people, then the bill in question, should be put forward for the American people to decide, and for the American people to have their say.
So for example on the issue of tax increases on the wealthy, if both parties cannot come to an agreement on whether taxes should or shouldn't be raised on the wealthy, then this bill should be put forward to the American people, and if the Americans were to vote in favour of Obama's bill, a tax increase on the rich, then the bill would pass and become law. If the bill didn't receive a majority vote from the people, then obviously it wouldn't pass, and that would be the end of it.…
@17 is right on the money. It's very important that everyone understand that this is the Republicans' specific response to the "Urban Archipelago" that delivered the White House for Obama in '08 and '12 but is about to come unraveled; their strategy is as Goldy described it above, but he doesn't go anywhere near far enough (I'm glad he picked it up, though, because it seems like nobody checks SlogTips from about mid-December to mid-January). Study up:

Start with Maddow on Dec. 12th (you'll think you're watching the wrong clip because she rabbits on for three and a half minutes about telemedicine in Michigan, but after that you'll see why):…

Print articles that will illustrate the scope of the problem:……

(I should say I don't think smaller Congressional districts/more representatives as Goldy advocates are the answer; it won't really limit the nearly unlimited possibilities of gerrymandering, for one. The best thing Dems can do is wake the fuck up during off-year elections, and ESPECIALLY for the elections that coincide with the decennial census. The Republicans won big in the statehouses in 2010 while Dems snoozed, and consequently controlled redistricting in the many states where the majority has that power.)
If we double the number of representatives, can we halve their pay/perks?
I've been arguing for this solution for about 20 years. Glad to see it catching on. The founders were sorta smart and thoughtful people. Not perfect, but pretty damn good. They had small House districts for a reason. And it wasn't just because the US population was less.
"we could divvy up the voting age population by decade, and let the 18-28 year olds actually vote for a rep that would represent their interests, instead of almost all of them focusing on issues benefiting the elderly and middle aged folks."

Please tell me what the "interests" of 18-28-year-olds are. Besides cheaper higher education.
@1, Back when I was a member of the idle unemployed, loafing around mooching off Real Americaâ„¢, I had difficulty resolving a problem with the state unemployment office. I reached out to my state rep's office for help. Not only did they help fix things, I got a follow up call from the representative himself and his personal cellphone number in case I had any further problems. Now that's what I call service!
Can we simply switch to a party proportional representation by each state? Skip the whole redistricting mess altogether while giving minority opinions better chance to be heard?
@18: Yes, we do have non-partisan districts now! And I'm very happy with them. Even though the state is extremely Democratic, population-wise, for years and years the districts were gerrymandered in such a way that the Republican caucus could always block anything that required a 2/3 vote (which in California is unfortunately a lot of things). With the new districts, Democrats now have supermajorities in both state houses.

More to the point, the districts actually make sense when you look at them. And the way the system works, if the districts REALLY look like bullshit, we can reject them and make the committee start over. It's nice.
It would not be very difficult to write a computer algorithm that would create districts based solely on geographic proximity and population density. But this type of reform, along with filibuster reform will NEVER happen because the party out of power will always dream of using these practices in their own favor if and when they get back in power.
@26 Here are a few:

1 Jobs--the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is quite high.

2. Reproductive freedom, since they are both fertile and sexually active.

3. Foreign policy, because Congress starts the wars, but people 18-26 actually fight them.

4. Marriage equality, since young people support it as ferverently as old people oppose it.

5. And, by the way, affordable education is nothing to sneeze at.
6. Making sure that when/if entitlements are reformed, young people don't get screwed.

7. Climate change, since we will actually live it
The only sensible way to prevent gerrymandering is to just write a damn computer program that fairly divides up districts. There is absolutely no excuse for humans to be in the loop for a task of this sort.
there isn't enough room on the house floor for all those reps, so it can't work. GOP congress until 2022, get used to the dysfunction.
I'd rather see some engineers or mathematicians come up with a map of districts without giving them any prior knowledge of party preference. Then raise the threshold of changing those districts to 2/3, and Congress never gets to draw the borders themselves ever.