• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post
  •  

    Final edit

    Yesterday Clayton Cramer posted about the size of the average congressional constituency and about its implications:

    The Constitution provides that in the lower house of Congress “the Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative.” The last change was from “one for every forty Thousand” to “one for every thirty Thousand.”

    The more people that a legislator represents, the easier it is for him to disregard the interests and concerns of his district — simply because he knows that no single person’s irritation or upset is likely to lead to his removal at the next election. In addition, the more voters there are in a district, the less likely it is that they will know the character of a candidate — because you are not likely to know him.

    For more than a century, we stuck with that ratio. The first House of Representatives had 65 members. Every ten years, a growing population meant a growing House — until in 1911, there were 438 members, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for such a large legislative body to operate. Congress went ahead and set the maximum size at 435 members.

    Today, a member of the House represents almost 700,000 people. If 40,000 people per member of the House in 1787 was “insufficient security for the rights & interests of the people,” why are we surprised that Congress is doing such a horrible job at seventeen times that ratio? Did Americans get seventeen times better at watching our Congresscritters between now and then?

    Well, we probably have at least seventeen times the exposure to them. Kind of sad that it’s gotten both more difficult for the average citizen to pressure legislators and more difficult for the same citizen to avoid their attention-whoring and yammering.

    Leave a Reply