Monday, January 4, 2010

A Thought for the Night

I was reading in the Federalist Papers, the introduction essay by Charles R. Kesler, and it occurred to me two things:

  1. Kesler writes, “These robust institutions (House, Senate, POTUS, SCOTUS), each shaped to its function or task, make republican government responsible in a larger, higher sense than the Anti-Federalists had in mind, and encourage the public to judge government not only by its immediate actions, but by its long-range policies and tendencies.” This encourages us to keep a strategic vision while evaluating current events. I quite concur. It is not the immediate actions in this form of government that are the problem in the long term. It is the general trend or precedent that these action promote or create that is cause for concern. Our public discourse should be focused upon the long-term philosophical implications of policy-making, and not the immediate political benefit. This thought reminded me why I think the 17th Amendment should be repealed; States rights have been eroded severely and a Senator that is completely beholden to the State legislatures for his/her position is a lot less likely to vote against the interests of the States. The 17th Amendment reminded me of another thought I had a while back;
  2. How many people does each congressman represent? So I looked it up. It is hovering around 693,000 according to Wikianswers. Do you know how many the Constitution talked about? “The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative”. That means anywhere from 30,000 to the entire population of the smallest state, Wyoming would be a good range, but the only true constraint is the 30k. 30,000 people vs. 693,000. Pretty stark. Are communications really THAT much better? In some ways even better that those numbers suggest, but I think there is something to be said for representation from someone that actually knows who you are. I wonder if there is any benefit to re-examining the number of Representatives in the House? Would it have been easier or harder for Congress to pass bad legislation with more members? In 1911, Congress fixed the number of Reps to 435, regardless of the population size that they represent.

Now for a final thread to stitch it all back together and complete my thought;

Wouldn’t our current political climate be more dynamic and responsive to our condition had we simply kept closer to the model of the original Constitution? Let me clarify. If we delete the 17th Amendment, then Senators are beholden to State governments and local business leaders much more so than today. They are less nobility and more ambassadors for their States. They represent the vested, landed, power of their States.

If we made the House more responsive to the people by making more Representatives, i.e. adjusting the rules so that there were only 100,000 per Rep, wouldn’t the likelihood, or at least the severity of the disconnect that the public have with its elected officials automatically diminish?

The Senate would represent the “rich” and the House would represent the vox populi of the immediate moment. Ostensibly, any bill that made it through the conference process would be pretty well balanced between individual freedoms and private property rights, the state vs. the individual, etc.

Interesting to think about anyway. Goodnight.

1 comment:

  1. I think an originalist interpretation and enforcement of the 10th Amendment would be a Good Thing.