Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

A Serious Discussion

Posted by Adam Graham on January 21, 2007

Julie started a discussion on the electoral college and the discussion is excellent.

Joel Monka made a good point regarding the electoral college:

If we had no electoral college, the campaigns would spend all their time in NY and California, because the rest of us would be meaningless by comparison. The EC forces them to spend SOME attention to the rest of the country.

And that in a nutshell is why the Electoral College works. Nickle-plated JA lays another good argument as well:

I hate to say this, but it isn’t broken! There are problems with questionable election officials/processes in a couple of very large, politically competetive states (Ohio and Florida), but the system itself does what it was designed to do: Increase the influence of less-populous states over the process. It’s good for Idaho — we get counted as nearly three times the votes we would otherwise — and the Republicans here are balanced by the “weighted-up” Democratic electors in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware. On the other hand, huge states get ratcheted down slightly, so that California, with 13% of the country’s people, only gets 10% of the electoral votes. A direct popular vote would result in a process only Nick Denton could love: Candidate sightings all over NYC and LA, and a whole-lotta media buys in between!

That might go to Chicago or the State of Florida, but he’s basically correct. Unless you had a very early primary, you wouldn’t see a serious Presidential Candidate.

He then added this suggestion:

If you want to “tweak” the system, look at its underlying basis: the House hasn’t grown beyond 435 members while the population of the Country has nearly tripled! Increasing the number of seats in the House would fix A LOT of the technical political problems we’ve been having lately, from Congress being too impersonal with its constituents to the over-desensitization of the Electoral College flywheel to the ease by which national money can influence Congressional races.

There’s certainly a point there. I wrote about this 8 months ago and I think expanding Congress could be a good idea for the reasons he’s listed. I saw the following benefits:

-Accountable government. Who out there actually meets their member of Congress? Its a lot easier for must us to get in contact with our state legislators, because they have fewer constituents to deal with.

-Dillution of special interest influence. As it stands, we have 435 members of Congress, most in seats that will never be competitive. Special interests can focus on the 20-40 seats that might be. In a world of a 4,000 + Congressmen, it’d be very hard to corrupt them all, very hard to gerrymander that many seats without some consequences in court.

-Opening it up to the average person. As it stands now, running for a Congress is a multi-million dollar matter these days. In 60,000-70,000 person districts, it would instead be open for medium sized businessmen, even average people to run for congress.

-More diversity. You’d have a lot of minorities, a lot of different religions, and a variety of political ideologies represented in Congress, you could even have a third party or two get in.

The big problem is the size of the body. To be representative as the Founders imagined would put us with 9,000 members of Congress. At that point, I have to question whether people would truly be receiving effective representation. The one solution I could see would require some Constitutional Amending.

You could divide the issues the Federal Government addresses into regional and federal issues. Park Management in Idaho and Montana is not really an issue for Californians and vice versa. So, many issues that would usually be handled in Washington, DC. would be handled by the regional authority. For Regional matters, the Regional Congress would make appropriations and levy taxes on it’s citizens while the whole Congress (made up of all the regional Congresses meeting by live remote) would pass federal legislation laying out federal tax amounts from each region and the region would figure out how to collect it.

For instance, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Montana could be one region. Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico another. Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii a third. California would be split into three regions. Of course in more populated areas, states like Ohio and Florida would end up their own region. I figure we’d end up with around 31 or so regional Congresses. When the Regional Congress acts, the bills would be sent to the region’s Senate delegation for approval or Amendment. Once differences were worked out between the Region’s Senators and Congressmen, their bills would be placed before the full Senate.

Yes, there are numerous problems with the idea, but it’s not my job to work them out. That only has to happen if someone takes them seriously enough to consider it on a governmental level.


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