By Robert Buccellato
The title may seem like a joke, and I suppose it is a bit pie in the sky to think that the work “cheap” would ever be included with the word “congress.” But, the growing level of partisanship and gridlock could all be resolved if the nation’s congressional districts were smaller in size. As it stands right now the average congressional district has one representative serving the needs of over 600,000 citizens. If you look at the few combative districts like the Florida Second, the representative has to spend their miserably short two year term during two main tasks. Raising a disgusting amount of money and turning themselves into some kind of bipolar freak show as they attempt to appease everyone in their district. The sad fact is that hardly anyone is accurately represented now of days.
In 1911, Congress passed the Apportionment Act of 1911, also known as ‘Public Law 62-5’, which capped the size of the United States House of Representatives at 435 seats. During the next reapportionment, the size of the House was again limited to 435 seats, with the seats divided among the states by population, with each state getting at least one seat. Yet, now the congress has gotten to the point that the average member of Congress can’t possibly improve the lives of those they serve. Heck they really can’t do anything but raise money for re-election.
Congress is vastly more conservative, white, male, and older than the average american. To make matters worse America is the only advanced nation on earth that has such a complete lack of representative. In India the Parliament is over seven hundred members strong, even with a voting public of several million, they are still more diversely compatible to the needs of the voting public than we are. The UK elections are also very telling, the average amount of political parties that hold seats in the chamber is usually five or six major or minor parties. This requires the majority to be far more moderate than their members would prefer and the minority has to be far more innovative.
Plus the members of Congress are paid far too much, over five times the median income in the country. Both issues (congressional districts and income) are difficult to solve, yet not impossible.
State Conventions would solve the issues and both national party conventions could promote it next year as they are nominating their presidential candidates.
Solution? Pass the The Wyoming Rule. A Proposal, which would add over one hundred members of congress and create eight new congressional districts in Florida instantly. But, to those of you who think such an idea is too revolutionary, I have something for you to think about. In his only speech as President of the Constitutional Convention, George Washington pleaded for the adoption of the First Article of the Bill of Rights. This Article deemed that no congressional seat should exceed thirty thousand citizens. So who can really argue with the father of our nation? By the way since Congress did not set a time limit for its ratification, the Congressional Apportionment Amendment is still technically pending before the states. Ratification by an additional 27 states is necessary for this amendment to be adopted. So come on Florida House! Talk about pie in the sky.
Robert Buccellato is the author of several books including Jimmy Carter in Plains:The Presidential Hometown and Finding Dan McCarty