Earlier this week, I wrote about a woolgathering to expand Congress and how that could be done and what it would mean for Congressional size and State representation. Specifically, I noted that with the Constitutional maximum of 1 US Rep for every 30,000 people in the United States, we would get a little over 11,000 US Reps and that Cali would get a little over 1300 of them while Wyoming got 19 US Representatives rather than just Liz Cheney.
But I also alluded to an even more radical idea than that. I said I would discuss it later because that post was already at 1,000 or so words.
Now, before we proceed, I want you to get *real* familiar with the US Constitution. Maybe even read every single word of it and all of its current Amendments before you proceed. You can find it here, and I’ll wait for you to go read it and come back. 🙂
You’re back now. Awesome.
Now, if you’ll remember from just having read the entire Constitution, there are several references to what States can and cannot do both in terms of delegating Federal power, selecting the President of the United States, electing Congresscritters, etc. Right? And there is even at least one part – when the initial count of US Representatives is laid out in Article I, Section II – that specifically lists the States that existed at the time of the Constitution being written and ratified.
But did you notice what *wasn’t* in the US Constitution?
A definition of what a “State” is. Or any definitions or descriptions of State Borders, even for the States that existed at that moment – much less the 37 States that have joined the Union since 1794.
And that is where this Woolgathering, this idle daydream, comes in.
What if we took the expansion of Congress a step further. What if we declared that not only would every US Representative represent exactly 30,000 people, but that every US Representative would represent exactly one State?
You read that right. What if we declared as a nation that the existing borders of the current States were null and void and we instead crafted a new system of States. After all, as anyone who has read the book How The States Got Their Shapes (or saw the excellent History Channel mini-series based on it) knows, many of the boundaries come down to geographic markers that are no longer as defining (or near as consistent as they were seen in the era) as they once were. For example, is there any true reason that the Central Savannah River Area of Augusta, GA and Aiken, SC and surrounding areas should be divided by a State line? Is there any reason Texarkana should be split in half because it straddles some line on a map? What about the town on the Georgia-Tennessee line in the Appalachian mountains where the State line literally goes through a restaurant, and thus alcohol can only be served in part of the restaurant?
I propose instead that when we redraw the 11,000+ US Representative Districts, we also define Constitutionally that these Districts are now States. Leaving the requirement that every State has two US Senators in place, we now have every US Representative representing 30,000 people – and every US Senator representing, on average, 15,000 people. This, from a current high-water mark (that only gets higher every decade) of as many as 19.77 *million* people on average for California’s Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla or a current low mark of 288,425.5 people for Wyoming’s John Barasso and Cynthia Lummis.
This would give the People a much more direct say in their government and increase their trust that their government is at least hearing their voices. Even as compromise would truly become the name of the game, every voter could sleep easy knowing that they had a near direct line to both their US Representative and US Senator – arguably an even more direct line than to their State Representative and State Senator, and in the case of larger cities and Counties, perhaps an even more direct line than to their local elected officials!
This would also preserve the intention behind the Electoral College, particularly if every State adopted a proportional Elector allocation method similar to what Nebraska and Maine currently use – a point I made in the prior post as well.
Once again, this is a woolgathering. An idle daydream. I know there are many logistical hurdles to solve before this idea could actually come to fruition, not to mention perhaps even more insurmountable real-world human hurdles regarding tradition and power, among other issues. This isn’t a post to solve every single one of those. This is simply a woolgathering dreaming of a possibility. One that I think should at least be examined in detail, as I think it could prove potentially more beneficial than the existing larger, more centralized systems we currently have.
What say you?