Friday, April 28, 2006

Reform Plan For Congress

Congress needs changing. Everyone knows it. The question is how to do it, short of starting all over? With such a small amount of people to buy (435 Representatives), special interests find it very easy to get into a congressman's pocket. On the other hand, it is also necessary for the would-be politician to court and accept their favors if they want to get elected. The cost of elections will continue to rise as the message has to get out to more and more people thereby making the problem ever worse. Politicians needs money, special interests are able to raise money and influence and, make no mistake, Constitution-eroding "campaign finance reform" wont solve the problem. It wont even make a dent in it.

The Constitution says that representation "shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative" Currently there is one Representative for every 646,947 people. That is 21.5 times less representatives than the Founders envisioned. This is the reason that they are non-responsive to the Citizenry as well as beholden to special interests. You dont know your Congressman, and he doesnt know or care about you. How could he? How can you hold someone you dont know accountable for their actions? It simply isnt possible.

A quick and easy solution would be to get representation much closer to what the Constitution says. Granted, the Constitution doesnt require only 30,000 people to 1 Representative but our Founding Fathers were wise enough to know that much more would isolate the representative from the Citizens and make him something other than their Servant. Opening up the House to say 5,000 Reps would give us a representation ratio of 1:56,284 or if we went to 1:30,000 there would be 9,380 seats in the House.

Objections to the plan
Three objections would come up over this plan.
1) The increase in # couldnt be held in the House.
2) Representatives would be easier to buy.
3) It would be next to impossible to pass anything.

To this I would say, #1 is irrelevant. There is nothing keeping the House meeting where it does. A new building could be created to hold these new Representatives, the cost would be a pittance considering how much the Gov already spends. The second objection is rather ridiculous as Reps are extremely easy to buy now. But as they would be accountable to the Constituents back home it would be much harder to purchase influence and there would be considerable extra expense with the vastly greater number. Objection number three is my favorite. It is in fact, one of my reasons for supporting such an action. It would be hard to pass bills. There is a reason for that, it is because it would have to pass through a lot of people's BS filters as well as their conscience and beliefs.

To recap: increased Representation would provide for a more responsive (to the Citizenry) and accountable legislature. It would work to free the House from PACS and Special Interest groups (it is impossible to fully end the influence of the monied elite and it is foolish to try) It would result in more gridlock and at the same time legislation that truly represents the people would be easier to pass. As an added bonus, it would be much harder to pass the pork that is currently passed. It is highly unlikely that the 6-10 representatives from Colorado Springs would vote for a toe-nail clippings museum in Pennsylvania, nor would Pennsylvanian Reps vote for funding for our Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. This is just as it should be.