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View Diary: Unrepresentative Democracy − The House of Representatives and the American Vote Not Represented (147 comments)

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  •  Thank you (27+ / 0-)

    This needs to be seen far and wide.

    Tip'd, Rec'd and Shared.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 08:43:15 PM PST

    •  Representative government is a mere fantasy (10+ / 0-)

      I agree this needs to be widely shared. I'm not confident the Supreme Court will take action on gerrymandering, but there are other ways in which the current Congress's composition is unrepresentative as well.

      There are only 435 seats in the House, currently, a number established a century ago (1911). Meanwhile, the US population has more than tripled since then.  And when the Constitution was created, districts were set at a population of 30,000 people, of whom fewer than half (men) would ever be eligible to vote. Which means that they were extraordinarily representative of eligible voters by today's standards. (Slaves were counted differently based on the notorious 3/5ths clause, and Indians were not counted at all).

      The Senate is also highly unrepresentative, which hurts populous, and incidentally, more progressive, states.  For example, 40,000,000 California voters get the same representation in the Senate as 500,000 Wyoming voters, though it's got nearly 80 times the population.

      States could conceivably pass laws to divide themselves into smaller, more representative units, to gain federal representation, I suppose. Would states go for this? Even if they did, though, the House would have to approve, and this House is opposed to representative government, as we know only too well.

      The last change to the number of districts came during a very progressive political moment. Perhaps it's time to renew that discussion?

      •  Yes, I think it is time to renew that discussion. (3+ / 0-)

        Another reason for doing so is the lack of representation by gender, etc.

        As one of the millions of women who make up over half of this country's population, I find our lack of representation extremely telling.

        A conversation on all of the factors that create a lack of truly representative government and what can be done to correct it is needful.  

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Onomastic on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:07:53 AM PST

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      •  So, if we still had the 30,000 to 1 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        political junquie, Lujane

        ratio then the House of Representatives would have over 10,000 members. That would make a difference.

        Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

        by hestal on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:51:26 AM PST

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      •  Oh boy, here we go. (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Onomastic, Bon Temps, hmi, Lujane, nominalize, bunsk

        I've got to speak up for us small state folks (or in my case, empty state - Montana) here.  It's the Senate that allows us to have any voice at all.   I live in one of the few states that is represented by a single Congressperson.  If not for the Senate, nothing I cared about would ever see the light of day in Washington.

        Poor remote Montana is actually undrrepresented in the House.  If we say that roughly the US population is roughly 315 million, then each House member should represent roughly 724K people.  At just over 1 million citizens, Montana comes up short.  Now, our neighboring empty state, Wyoming, has a population of just under half a million, and also has a single representative, which makes them completely overrepresented.  In places like New York City and Los Angeles however, you can drive twenty mintues and cross four Congressional districts.  

        The Senate is a hot mess, to be sure, thanks to this ridiculous filibuster thing, but I digress.

        Take a careful look at who has won where in the last election, particularly statewide races (governorships, Senate) compared to local races (House, state legislatures).  Then take a look at which of those ultimately red states has any sort of population center at all.  In states (outside of the South of course) that have the bulk of their population centered in "liberal" communities such as college towns (Montana is one), Democrats have won statewide offices, while Republicans control the legislatures and House seats.  This is of course the larger communities combined havemuch  larger populations than all the small ones put together.  It IS in fact the House of Representatives that truly reflects the divisions in our nation.  Here, for example, you will say, "Ah, but the sole Congresscritter from Montana is a Republican."  Yes, but here's why.  Even in the blue areas of my state, Democrats only won narrowly.  In the vast open spaces, Democrats didn't even register on the scale.  And so it goes across the nation...

        When do I get to vote on your marriage?

        by jarhead5536 on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:24:07 AM PST

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        •  Oddly, you sparse states (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mindara, Laconic Lib

          benefit greatly from the Federal system because you can't support all the needs you have because of your small tax base. Some things don't work well on a small scale and are vastly more expensive. Yet, you get all rugged individualist on us, when cooperation cuts costs.

          I live in the small state of Maryland and we have over 6M people. We've been doing stuff longer and better for a long time. We get kind of tired about hearing about oil subsidies and BP spilling oil when we are forbidden to even lose a drop on our driveways lest it make its way to the great Chesapeake.

          Sure we gerrymandered. We got rid of the ancient Roscoe and kept the illiterate shore people happy. We could have drawn the map all blue if we wanted though......easily. They will still get all the benefits we continue to provide, like the best hospital system, the best schools, best libraries.....because we have the density to support all of it.

          Your congressmen live here and in northern Virginia and benefit from all of it while you have to sit there back in the big states. They know where they have it good.

        •  You shouldn't have a voice (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MarciaJ720, Laconic Lib

          or at least one which can be noticed. The idea that your personal voice should be heard 80 times louder in the senate than say a person from California is a complete betrayal of the American principal of equal voting rights.

          Next time you have a bunch of friends over try buying a megaphone and just do all your talking via it. See if any of your friends like you after that.  Thats how the small states are viewed by many.

          I do not care if its California Vs Hawaii, New York Vs Road Island or Nebraska vs Texas.  Small staters have no moral right to greater representation.

          As a constitutional right they do. So the simple solution is, start removing the title "state". I think we need more territories.

          That or merge states, or break states up.

          The best answer is to merge states for economics of scale issues with governance.

        •  You keep beating this drum (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laconic Lib

          Last time, I told you: you have three representatives in government, one for every 333k citizens. What's more, the Senate is more powerful than the House, and everyone knows it, and each individual Senator is more powerful than any given Congressperson by roughly an order of magnitude. (One Senator can and frequently does block any law he or she wishes to, with no repercussions, and even the rather weak filibuster reform won't stop this, it will just make it a bit less convenient.) So basically, you have two powerful representatives and one much less powerful representative in government, for your 1 million people.

          California, meanwhile, has 53 congressional districts, and two senators, for its 37 million people. That's one representative of any kind per 675k citizens. So you have twice the representation that Californians do.

          But it's worse than that, because your 1 million citizens have veto power over more or less anything that California's 37 million citizens want to do at a federal level. Just as an example, one Senator, by himself, was responsible for the failure of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which would have dedicated federal funds to trying to figure out why the California sea otter is starting to die off again. One Senator destroyed that bipartisan legislation, supported by a 2/3 majority in the House and at least 70 Senators. (Yes, they could have passed it, but it would have taken several weeks of the Senate's time, during which they could have done nothing else, and there were other things that were more urgent on the agenda. And, of course, since then, it hasn't even been brought up.)

          And even if that were reformed, since the Senate is closely divided (and likely to become more so in 2014) it is frequently the case that, even on a straight up or down vote, 50/50, your Senators will have the power to decide that the government should act against the wishes of over 70% of the population of the US.

          And yet your main thrust is that because you only have one House member when you really by rights should have 1.3 House members, you are woefully underrepresented.

          Tell you what: when California gets 72 Senators, then you guys can have 2 House members. Sounds absolutely fair to me.

          •  Here's my answer, (0+ / 0-)

            and I haven't said it publicly because it won't ever happen.  House members should not be identified with states at all, rather regions.  Every ten years, a computer program should construct 435 compact and contiguous districts of equal population regardless of political lines like city limits and county or state boundaries.  That way, I can shut up about poor "Montana", and you can shut up about poor "California" having inadequate national influence by population.

            I have always believed that the idea to make Senators popularly elected was a mistake.  Senators represent the entity of the state, while House members represent actual people.  That was the way it was supposed to be, and we should go back to it...

            When do I get to vote on your marriage?

            by jarhead5536 on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 11:59:12 AM PST

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      •  we wouldn't have gotten the constitution (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Onomastic, Bon Temps, O112358, MarciaJ720

        ratified in 1789/1791 without the Senate as it is.  However, back then there were few 'small' states and they were all relatively bigger than today's 'small' states.  Maybe it needs to be reexamined, but that would take a new Constitutional Convention ;)

      •  The Senate was never meant to be representative (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hmi, Onomastic, nominalize, slothlax

        You are complaining about the very feature that distinguishes Senators from House members and it's reason for existing!

        That's the whole point.. 2 Senators per state was set so that the smaller states would have equal standing.  State sovereignty has been all but forgotten in this day and age, but it was paramount to the framers and original states.

        •  The whole point was to bribe a bunch of selfish ** (0+ / 0-)

          You are right there is a Constitutional right.  But wrong about the morality. The morality from the get go was simple bribery.

          But ya there is nothing preventing us from forming one big "empty state"

      •  We should at least add 200 reps (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MarciaJ720, happy camper

        To put the number about 1 for every 500,000 people.  

        Not to mention, it would force redistricting, and it would inject a lot of new blood into the process.

        Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

        by nominalize on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 05:58:35 PM PST

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      •  I was just at Huffington Post and posted this (0+ / 0-)

        1 second ago ( 9:21 AM)
        This comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

        The Republicans have Gerrymandered their way into being a people in power of the House at least until 2020. That is 8 more years of total anti-legislation (unless it is theirs), anti-working folks in the House. Boehner & Company are worthless as legislatures. All because a certain colored person occupies their precious White House.

        Then I come over here.....  It is picking up people who are concerned enough that the R's are playing dirty.....

        Then again, I think of Florida....  That Governor, Rick Scott, came in and changed things up only to LOSE big time.  But in the meantime, places like Michigan, Texas, etc., are not well represented and are being bullied by the the Bullies.

        -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

        by MarciaJ720 on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 06:27:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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