It’s time to restore the People’s House.
Thomas Jefferson observed that “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Recent history demonstrates the threats posed to our liberties when our government, and in particular our elected representatives, no longer fear the people. In fact, most of them don’t even respect us.
As explained in this web pamphlet, increasing the number of federal representatives – by replacing 435 imperial-sized congressional districts with several thousand community-sized ones – will restore political power to the people by ending incumbent domination of reelections, diminishing lobbyists’ influence, overcoming political-party control of our government, maximizing individual liberty, and reducing the size of government.
This is not a new idea: Historical documents reveal that our nation’s founders intended that the number of Representatives in the U.S. House be increased every ten years to keep pace with the total population. For example, Federalist 58 states that one of the “unequivocal objects” of the population census is “to augment the number of representatives … under the sole limitation that the whole number [of Representatives] shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand inhabitants.”
Most significantly, the intended purpose of “Article the first” – the very first amendment proposed in the original Bill of Rights – was to limit the number of people represented by each Representative to 50,000. This would ensure that the number of Representatives forever increases along with the population, thereby maintaining the viability of our representative democracy as the nation grew. Unfortunately, and as explained in this website, a defective version of this proposal, rather than the intended version, was submitted to the states. As a result, it was never ratified, and the solution intended by the founders subsequently disappeared into America’s memory hole.
However, reflecting the founders’ intent, from 1790 to 1910 Congress regularly increased the number of Representatives in order to reflect the growth in our nation’s population. Congress last increased the number of Representatives to 435 after the 1910 Census when the total population reached 91 million. Over a century later, we still have only 435 federal Representatives even though the total population has more than tripled! Consequently, each congressional district currently contains, on average, over 760,000 people! Not only are such massive districts contrary to the founders’ vision but, as noted in a recent report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences:
“The chamber’s lack of growth over the last ninety years has had serious and harmful consequences for both representatives and the voting public. One result has been that the connection between constituents and their congresspeople has attenuated, leading to worse representation and bolstering the feeling among voters that their voice does not matter.”
In order for the citizens of America to take back our republic, we first must regain control of the House of Representatives. The only way to achieve this is by significantly increasing the number of congressional districts.