When an information system breaks down, there are two fundamental ways to fix it. The first and easiest is to simply write more code to counter the erroneous behavior. The more this solution is used, the more complex the system becomes and the more the real problem is obfuscated. The second way, the correct way, is to dig down into the system and locate the source code that is causing the problems. Then, correct that code. It takes longer in the short term, but it solves the problem permanently and keeps the system functioning efficiently, clean, easy to maintain and to understand.
Our governmental system is breaking down. It has been for over a century. Each time the House changes hands, more and more legislation is added to correct the problems generated by the previous generation of legislation.
Programmers like to write code, legislators like to write legislation. To date, Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals alike keep imposing more and more legislation to fix the problems. But it never gets solved because no one has gone back and examined what caused the deterioration in the first place.
I have now done that research and analysis because I couldn’t see where anyone else has. The problem and solution follow.
I am contacting you with this information because I am confident that you are more interested in solving our nation’s problems than in exploiting them. Please do your part.
Recipe for Tyranny
In 1911, House membership reached 435. Two years later, in 1913, the 16th Amendment granted the Federal Government the right to tax “income” (though the exact definition of “income” remains in some dispute). In 1929 the number of Representatives in the House was limited to 435 by a House Rule.
These events created two divergent statistics that have reached critical mass in their relationship.
The two statistics are:
1. Per capita representation in Congress which is going down. At present, with a population of over 306,000,000 and approximately 435 members of in the House of Representatives, we have 1 legislator for every 700,000 citizens. When the Constitution was written, it stated “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;”
2. Federal revenues from income tax are going steadily up. The liberal desire to “spread the wealth” may have some merit. By one revenue chart, in 2006, 40% of the GDP of our entire nation under the unilateral and discretionary control of 535 people who are more answerable to campaign contributors and lobbyists than to their constituents.
This is a recipe for tyranny. Whether it results in an oligarchy that engages in socialism, communism or any other ism is immaterial. Losing our right to control our individual and national destiny is a problem that warrants attention and action. Our Representative Republic is already gone. It has already deteriorated into an oligarchy. Until it is restored, our nation will continue to deteriorate despite the best of intentions. Even under conservative leadership it will continue to deteriorate as we saw under the Bush administration.
The Citizen Statesman and Self-Government
The purpose of the lower house, the House of Representatives, is to ensure self government by the Citizens of the United States of America. The House was to be composed of citizen statesmen, not professional or career politicians. The term is only for 2 years for multiple reasons, to prevent too long of an interruption in the citizen statesman’s career, and also to prevent complacency and self indulgence from taking root.
This body of citizen statesmen is the only arm of the government empowered to introduce new legislation to raise revenues. Yet, our President has just this year demanded such of them, and they have complied against the will of the people they allegedly represent.
The Constitution was so designed that all laws are to originate with the people, via Congress, not the President or the Courts.
The upper house, the Senate was to be composed of longer term, career statesmen who can provide balance and guidance to the members of the House. Neither the executive branch nor the judicial branch is empowered to introduce new legislation, only Congress. And that lower house was to be composed, not of politicians, but of citizens.
With each Representative representing a constituency of over 700,000, it is no longer possible for a common citizen to communicate effectively with enough of these people to acquire a majority or plurality of votes. Thus, in 2008, we saw the majority of incumbents in Congress, with record public disapproval ratings; retain their seats in both houses.
Only career politicians or the independently wealthy are able to run for office successfully. People who need to work fulltime jobs are prohibited by logistics from office. This is the greatest tragedy and the single greatest reason for the deterioration of our republic to an oligarchy. We must reduce the ratio of citizens to representatives to a level which will enable an average working citizen to campaign and fund-raise on a part-time basis and be able to win. If it means enlarging the House of Representatives to a full 10,000 members, to the level of 30,000 citizens per representative, then so be it.
Antidote to Tyranny
1. Repeal the House Rule that restricts membership to the House to 435 members.
2. Split each district 7 ways to achieve a ratio of 1 Representative for every 100,000 citizens.
a. The redistricting could be done all at once, or gradually, first splitting a district in half and double membership, and one or two terms later, split the new districts again until the designated ratio is achieved.
3. The Representatives for each supra-district would elect from among themselves a Speaker of the District, who would represent the District in Washington.
a. Each district could determine the frequency of rotating the position of Speaker for the District. It could be every 6 months, annually, or for the duration of each 2-year term.
b. The pay/salary for Representatives could be significantly reduced, and the Speaker for each district could be issued a per diem and/or expense account to cover the costs of residing in Washington.
4. All other Representatives would office in their home districts and participate in voting and debates electronically.
5. When a roll is called, each home district representative would submit his vote to the Speaker for the District, and upon being called, the District Speaker would call the number of Ayes, Nays and Abstentions.
1. Restore the concept of the citizen statesman. At present it is nearly impossible for an average citizen to successfully communicate with 700,000 voters to achieve a majority. Only the independently wealthy and/or career politicians can mount a successful campaign thus logistically prohibiting the participation of true citizen statesmen and women in the House.
2. Eliminate the abuses of lobbying. With the entire membership of the House in Washington, D.C. for most of the year, constituents have very little access to their representatives, but they are all in one place where lobbyists have nearly exclusive and cost effective access to the Representatives of the people. By distributing the vast majority, 6 out of 7 Representatives per supra-district, throughout the nation evenly, it would be cost prohibitive for lobbyists to exert influence over our Representatives.
3. Eliminate back-room deals. It would become nearly impossible for the administration or any group to successfully create voting blocs as the Speakers for the Districts would have no control over the voting of the local Representatives.
4. Effective communication between Representatives and their constituents. All citizens would be within 1-2 hours drive of their representative and could visit them easily to communicate their concerns and wishes regarding current legislation.
5. Pre-empt the need for term limits.
This is a rough outline of how we can restore our representative republic with the smallest and most dramatic change possible. The details can be worked out by the House once it is again composed of true citizen statesmen and women. There are many Representatives right now who do meet that description despite the odds, but with the existing structure, corrupted nearly a century ago, they remain under chronic, heavy assault by special interests and inaccessible to their constituents despite their best efforts.
Please think these thoughts through. Perhaps this general program can be refined and improved. The goal is simply a representative republic, with the lower House composed of true citizen statesmen and women. If there is a better way to accomplish this, I would support it. But I do not see how we can restore our representative republic as long as the House of Representatives is beyond the reach of more than 99.99% of the citizens.
The beauty of this solution is that all that is required to make it happen is the revocation of a single house rule. We don’t need to amend the Constitution or engage in extreme or complex legislation. Repeal that rule. Restore the Republic.