How representative is Congress?
The Brookings Institution

How representative is Congress? It isn’t at all because our present system of government isn’t constructed to be representative. The reasons go far beyond the examples given in the article, which are symptoms of the dysfunction.

Our Founders specifically stated in the Constitution the ideal ratio between elected representatives and the number of citizens they could reasonably represent. As stated, that ratio was one elected representative for every 30,000 citizens.

However, by 1910, Congress decided that as the U.S. population grew, too many representatives would have to be added to the House. Therefore in 1911 Congress passed the Apportionment Act of 1911 which capped the number of House representatives at 435. The consequence was that each member of the House would then be representing more and more people as the population grew. If the Apportionment Act hadn’t been passed there would be more than 7,000 House representatives today.

Now, instead of each rep representing 30,000 we have some who represent hundreds of thousands. There’s no way that one person can adequately represent that many people in a society as diverse as ours. Thus we’re a representative democracy in name only.

Moreover, the Apportionment Act not only changed the House from being a representative body but it also made obsolete the Electoral College. Now the EC encourages a tyranny of the minority over the majority instead of the opposite which was the intent of the Founders. Electors are chosen based on the number of representatives each state has in Congress. Therefore a state with a smaller population has much more influence through their electors than a much more populous state. We have to look no further than the last election for proof.

The Electoral College decided the 2016 election based on less than 80,000 votes in 3 counties east of the Mississippi River before California’s votes were even counted. In other words, our nation’s most populous state with the world’s 6th largest economy had no say in who their President would be. That’s neither a democracy nor a republic no matter how one defines them.

There are many solutions being offered one of which is the DemocracyOS movement. Essentially, each citizen serves as their own representative. DemocracyOS is presently being experimented with in Brazil so the jury is still out but it does offer a viable alternative to our undemocratic government at present.

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