You are not being effectively represented in Congress by your elected official - We need to increase our representatives to historically proportionate levels

You are not being effectively represented in Congress by your elected official – We need to increase our representatives to historically proportionate levels

You are not being effectively represented in Congress by your elected official. Even assuming a best case scenario in terms of integrity and effectiveness, no matter how hard your congressional representative there is simply no way. If we break down the numbers, this is not at all surprising.

1790 was the first congressional appointment based on a census.  There were 105 representatives for the estimated 3,579,638 people in the united states. Even if we are super generous and ignore the fact that this number includes women, children, and slaves, this has each congressman representing approximately 34,000 people.

How do things stand today?  The population clock produced by the U.S. Census Bureau has us at just under 316,000,000 people. Just a tiny bit more than in 1790. We have, fortunately, updated our congressional appointment numbers over the years. Currently there are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives. This gives us a grand total of, on average, over 725,000 people for each congressman to represent.  This is over 20x as many people as the representatives in 1790 were representing. Also, do not forget that those original numbers from 1790 included women, minorities, and slaves who most certainly were not actually being effectively represented in government. Today representatives are expected to go to bat for an immensely more diverse constituency that is 20x as large as originally designed.  No wonder things are going so poorly for just about everyone.

What can we do?  We can increase the number of representatives in the house for starters. We did so a number of times over the years as we grew increasing from 105 to 435 over many small increases. There is no reason we can not do this again.

Lets run the numbers and see how many representatives would be needed to bring things up to historically proportional levels. According to the United States Election Project out of George Mason University there were 221,925,820 individuals eligible to vote in 2012.  For these individuals to be proportionately represented at the same level as individuals were in 1790 we would need over 6200 representatives (221,925,820 / 3,4000 = 6,233.11).

6,233 is quite a bit bigger than our current 435. I freely admit that having over 6,000 representatives might be a little much and there likely is not really a need to bring things up exactly to historically proportionate levels. But what this does do is give us a lot of wiggle room.

Surely 18 year old individuals have significantly different interests than 85 year old individuals. For starters, someone who is 18 years old can expect to be personally impacted by long term planning and policies 10, 15, 20, 50, maybe even 80 years down the line.  For someone who is 85 years old this is not as much of an issue. While it is nice to think that the older portion of the population would be taking into consideration the impact various decisions and policies might have on their children and grandchildren down the line the evidence seems to indicate otherwise. To me, it makes absolutely no sense to have someone who is in their 20s represented by the same person who represents their grandparents.  Fortunately we have lots of room for more representatives and breaking things up by age seems like a great place to start taking advantage of these extra seats. Further, men and women have significantly different interests as well. Why not have men and women elect their own representatives?

Lets run some numbers and see how many representatives we might need for different age groups and sexes to have their own congressional representatives.

If we break the voting population up into 4 year age blocs this this gives us 20 blocs from age 18 through age 96 with one more for everyone over 97.  For each of these blocs to have their own representative in every state we would need 1050 representatives. Yes, this is more than double what we have now but it is still a far cry from historically proportionate levels. This still gives us a lot of wiggle room.  What if, as mentioned above, men and women each had their own representatives.  Well, we simply have to multiply our last number by 2 and we still only have 2100 representatives.

One of the amazing things about this strategy is that I believe it would help encourage younger members of the population to participate in elections and their government and that it would help being balance in terms of women in elected positions as well as age of politician.

What do you think? Should we increase the number of representatives in the House? If so by how many and in what way? Let us know in the comments!


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