Mock Constitutional Convention nixes 6,000-seat House

The resolutions considered by the Mock Constitutional Convention have been posted here by Eric Byler. Most of them are reasonably self-explanatory, but I think one could use a bit of explanation, because even though it didn’t achieve a consensus, it’s an interesting idea. It’s the proposal to increase the size of the House from 435 to 6,000 Representatives.

This proposal has its origin in the drastic increase in the number of citizens per congressional district from 33,000 in 1790 to almost 700,000 as of 2008 (according to Wikipedia). The proposed remedy would reduce the number to around 50,000. Its proponent envisages representatives spending most of their time in their districts, conducting congressional business mainly by videoconferencing and traveling to Washington perhaps as few as four times per year. They would be in much closer contact with their constituents, and hopefully more responsive to their needs and wishes.

Particularly interesting for the Coffee Party’s campaign against big money’s political influence is that congressional election campaigns would be much less expensive. Representatives’ dependence on special-interest money would be reduced, and the dispersal around the country of the target-rich concentration of 435 congress(wo)men in DC would make lobbying more expensive and less effective.

I don’t recall the arguments of the mock conventioneers against the proposal. Perhaps they agreed with James Madison, writing in The Federalist #55 (and quoted in the same Wikipedia article):

Sixty or seventy men may be more properly trusted with a given degree of power than six or seven. But it does not follow that six or seven hundred would be proportionably a better depositary. And if we carry on the supposition to six or seven thousand, the whole reasoning ought to be reversed. … In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason.

About Hamilton Richards

I retired in 1966 as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. These days I volunteer technical support for Citizens' Climate Lobby (Austin chapter), Common Ground for Texans, (CG4Tx.org), Integrity Texas (IntegrityTexas.org), and several friends.
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2 Responses to Mock Constitutional Convention nixes 6,000-seat House

  1. Diane Owens says:

    Have to admit that the thought of having 6000 members in the House of Representatives spending 30 to 70% of their time holding fundraisers and begging special interests to give them money for their campaigns is tempting. It would, no doubt, require a 1380% increase in the number of lobbyists to shovel the money at the members, assuming I did the math correctly. A simpler way to get the 435 member Congress and 100 member Senate to pay attention to their constituents would be to pass the Fair Elections Now Act. Now how do we convince the professional politicians?

  2. Dave says:

    Well, it was originally the very first article proposed to the states as amendments to the Constitution. The version that made it to the state legislatures was defective, though. The original would’ve proposed this number as a minimum at this point in time. The maximum is around 10,000

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