I’m a very big history buff, and as we are in the middle of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, I’ve been doing research into the political causes of that conflict. As I did my research I came across an interesting number: 238.
238 was the number of seats in the House of Representatives in the election of 1858, the last normal pre-war election. The population of the United States at that point was roughly 30 million people and so the average congressional district had a little more than 125,000 people in it. In 1911 when the number of House seats was capped at 435 the average size of a district was about 210,000 people. Today we have more than 300 million people and still only 435 House seats, for an average of almost 690,000 people per congressional district.
I believe this is a travesty and that our founders are spinning fast enough in their graves to power a major city. A major reason why American political participation has declined is because most people believe that “my vote doesn’t matter” and “my <various elected official> doesn’t listen to us” and in many cases they are absolutely correct. They don’t listen because their elected officials are too busy coddling up to whatever special interest is giving them the money to get 700,000 people to reelect them to Congress. This dangerous disconnect has soured our people on politics and the allowed the poison of apathy to seep into our national bloodstream.
I think that the size of the House should be tripled, that’s right, tripled. Think of the benefits:
1: Greater contact between ordinary voters and their Congressman, allowing a better representation of the average Americans voice to be heard in Congress.
2. The new members would sweep the “Old Guard” establishment away, and create opportunities for new people and new ideas to come to the forefront.
3. Decrease opportunities for gerrymandering certain districts
4. Perhaps it would slow the spinning of the founders down some, maybe just enough to power a mid-size city….