Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Let me say right from the outset, this is one of those postings that is going to make my children cringe. Fortunately, it’s a free country and no one important really knows they’re related to me. Fearlessly, I’m saying for the record what I concluded years ago, that the Congress has too many members, too constantly engaged in the process of getting elected, to be an efficient or effective decision-making body.
I recommend making three changes, each of which requires amending our Constitution. Without question, I cannot overstate my reluctance to tamper with this historic document. Unfortunately, as the decades long historic and current debates over healthcare reform legislation affirm, it has gotten to the point where any concerns I may have about changing the Constitution are outweighed by the adverse social and fiscal consequences of Congressional inaction and ineptitude when they finally do get around to doing something.
The American people don’t trust or respect their Congress, and for good reason. That’s got to change. No democracy can endure if the people hold their legislature in such low regard.
First, I want to do away with the Senate. (Okay, everybody, breathe.) I understand that our founding fathers needed to acknowledge states rights as part of some process of compromise. More than two centuries later, it’s time we recognize that states have no inherent rights to representation. Lincoln said that we are a nation “of the people, by the people, for the people.” States were nowhere mentioned. The enclosed table shows 2008 state populations estimated by the Census Bureau. It is ludicrous that Wyoming, with only 532,668 people should have representation in the Senate equivalent to California’s 36,756,666 citizens – unless you believe in states’ rights, which I don’t. I believe that a representative government should be based on the singular principle of one person, one vote, period.
We now have a single house Congress.
Second, I’m recommending that we reduce the number of Representatives from the current 435 to 304 – even though it will mean that some states will have to share Representatives. I don’t care, because I don’t believe that states have any right to be making laws. That 532,668 people have a whole state to themselves is irrelevant. The residents of Wyoming, our least populous state – including the District of Columbia – are citizens just like the rest of us, deserving of no more or less representation in Congress.
The average number of people represented by the current 435 Members of the House is 698,988 based on Census Bureau estimates of 2008 population. Based on those same estimates, our current population is just over 304 million. I’m recommending that we increase the number of people represented by a Member of the House to one million. 304 is a more manageable number which is still plenty large enough to assure independence and diversity.
Third, I recommend changing the term of our Representatives from two to six years, one third of them to be elected every two years – so that they’re not as distracted by the need to be constantly running for office.
We now have one President, nine Justices of the Supreme Court and just one house of 304 Representatives. Maybe we can get some work done.
If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to call my children before they change cell phone numbers or enter the witness protection program. With luck, nobody will read this and everything will be fine.