Well, specifically, make the House of Representatives’ membership bigger. It’s an interesting idea from NRO’s Jonah Goldberg. The premise is that the Founders did not intend for members of the House to represent so many people as they do now — about 700,000 apiece, on average. Ergo, we need more representatives so that they will better represent the people. (Nothing would change about the Senate’s two-members-per-state arrangement, though numerous people have argued that repealing the 17th Amendment’s direct election of senators would also bring Congress closer to the people.)
Goldberg argues that effectively watering down the House would accomplish what term-limit supporters seek to do, without depriving voters of the right to elect whomever they choose:
The trick is to swamp Congress with new blood and new ideas. Want more minorities in Congress? Done. Want more libertarians? More socialists? More blue-collar workers? Done, done, done.
In free-speech debates, it’s often said that the cure for bad speech is more speech. Well, the cure for a calcified Congress just might be more members; the remedy for an undemocratic system, more democracy.
When you look at the congressional corruption scandals of the last 20 years, it’s hard not to see them as stemming from a system that has, in fact, led to the “permanent elevation of the few on the depression of the many.”
If the House were to expand to 1,761 members — as sought in the lawsuit in Mississippi that Goldberg mentions — Georgia would go from having 13 members to having something like 55. Metro Atlanta would have 30 or so representatives. There would be no more districts that stretch from Trenton to Gainesville in the north, or from Valdosta to Savannah in the south. Rather than increasing the amount of pork-barrel spending, Goldberg posits that there would be less: “If there’s not enough for everyone,” he suggests, “nobody can have any.”
He also touches on a topic that interests me and, judging from the comments I’ve seen on here, a number of you: The ills of the two-party system:
I’m not convinced that [ending the two-party system] would be a good thing, but wouldn’t the best way to do that be for smaller parties in Congress to champion fresh new ideas? Rather than have some billionaire egomaniac who, in effect, creates or co-opts a ridiculous third party just so he can indulge his presidential ambitions, why not have third, fourth, or 15th parties test their wares in a smaller political market and build themselves up to where they could field a president?
European countries offer some lessons about the pitfalls of multiparty systems. But if you would like to see a new party supplant one of the two major parties, this is probably the most likely way for that to happen. Of course, Congress is highly unlikely to expand itself; this kind of change would probably require action from the states, something I’ve written about before.
So what do y’all think? Would more members of Congress bring Washington, D.C., closer to the people or farther away, more likely to limit government or expand it?