Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 4:20 PM
Subject: Article the First - restoring representation to the people
Comment: I found another article on this very important subject:
We Need Representation to Return the Government to We the People
by Rev. Robert A. Vinciguerra
20 September 2013
In 1791 the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, went into effect, having been ratified by two thirds of states. One of the original articles in the Bill of Rights, the first one, was not ratified. It is this article that can save America.
It is a little known fact that there were originally twelve amendments proposed. What we know today as the First Amendment was really the third proposed.
Had all twelve been passed the NRA would be an ardent lobby for Fourth Amendment rights. There would be rallies to “Restore the Sixth.” The Third Amendment would grant freedom of religion.
The first two articles, however, were not passed. One of them, having to do with congressional raises, would be ratified in 1992, a full 203 years after its 1789 proposal. What was at the time the second proposed amendment is now the Twenty Seventh Amendment.
Article the First
Today the federal government is run by an elite two party system that acts as one party more often than not, catering only to corporations and the special interests that fund their campaigns. They are locked in perpetual war, fighting not for what is in the best interests of their constituents, but what is in the best interest of their party and their party’s big donors.
Even before the Constitution was adopted this outcome was feared. The Founding Fathers foresaw population growth and the potential for corruption in the government. They knew that for a people to be free that they must govern themselves. The people of the republic must elect representatives to congress; people who literally represent the community from which they were elected.
The original size of the House of Representatives was to be only sixty five, with Article I, Section 2 only prescribing that there be not more than one representative per 30,000 citizens. This was so disturbing to the anti-federalists that James Madison penned Federalist No. 55, in which he declared the anti-federalist concerns to be moot, because, among other things, the number of total representatives was to increase every ten years following the census.
When it came time craft the Bill of Rights, it was feared that the number of representatives might not increase with the growing population. Therefore they crafted an amendment to the constitution that was so important that it was put first. Article the First, as it is known, caps the size of a congressional district to 50,000.
However, there was an error in the final language that invalidated the calculations. It needs to be corrected and ratified. The correct version reads as such:
Article the first... After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.
Size of the New House
The effect of recognizing and honoring the ratification of Article the First would provide great benefits to citizens of the United States.
The House of Representatives would be forced to increase in size from the current arbitrary number of 435 to over 6,100. This is not a matter of increasing the size of government. It’s not solving the problems of government with “more government.” It’s placing the control of the government correctly in the hands of the actual people.
The number of 435 was settled on in 1911. Up until that time, every ten years, following each enumeration, the House of Representatives added new seats. But we haven’t added any new seats in over 100 years.
At the time, Republican Representative Edgar Crumpacker of Indiana, who chaired the House Committee on the Census argued against freezing the number of House seats:
“Members are… supposed to reflect the opinion and to stand for the wishes of their constituents. If we make the ratio [of persons per Representative] too large the idea of representation becomes attenuated and less definite. The personal interest of the voter in his representative becomes less important to him, and we may lose something of the vital strength of our representative form of government.”
Indeed, he was correct. With a population of over 313 million only 435 people is far too few, leaving one representative per 721,609 people. To contrast, Great Briton enjoys one representative per 96,523 citizens in their lower house alone. The tiny state of New Hampshire, having the largest lower chamber of any state at 200 members, achieves one representative per approximately 3000 people.
Asking for one representative per 50,000 citizens and increasing the size of the House of Representatives to over 6,100 members is not unreasonable, especially when considering that there are already over 15,000 people running Congress, and we only elected a small fraction of them.
Despite the large number and the addition of members, gridlock would ease, not escalate. The reason why the current House stagnates as it does is because a few individuals have enormous power through financial backing, the backing of their party, and the power of their personality. One voice among 6,100 is much less powerful than one in 435.
With Article the First in place, our representatives would actually represent us. Imagine having the cell phone number of your representative. Knowing them from the neighborhood, having gone to school together. They would not be beholden to a faceless special interest and they would need not fear reprisals from such. They would only have a duty to their neighbors who elected them. Special interest groups and lobbyists would not be able to afford to buy off enough congress members to make a difference.
Gerrymandering congressional districts would be a thing of the past. It would be impossible to draw a legislative district that stretches hundreds of miles negate the voting power of one block or another as physical size of districts would become too small.
Up until 1911, there were twenty third parties in the United States that, at given times, controlled over five percent of the House. With 6,100 representatives, third party candidates would be viable because constituencies would have a choice between more than two candidates including a third party that better represents them, therefore breaking the two-party system and forcing the compromise among them. Along those lines, it would be increasingly difficult for a fraction of a party to hold the rest of the party at ransom, rather they could break off into their own, more ideologically pure, party.
As it stands today, each congress member has 27 assistants. The overwhelming majority of our law makers are not elected. This requires a lot of money, as do elections where over 700,000 people are voting. With more members of congress actually doing the work, there would be less of a need for staff.
With a smaller constituency, the cost of an election would drop by 70 percent or more. The need for national or outside groups to fund elections decreases exponentially. Congressmen and women would be able to fund their campaign from donors in their own districts alone. There would still be money in politics, but the “big spenders” are unlikely to spend more than twice as much on elections than they currently are, and at that price, they could not afford to own enough members of congress to have significant influence.
America Needs More Representation and Less Politicians
Increasing the size of the House of Representatives is the one thing that allows all other things to happen; less partisanship, a stronger Constitution, a Congress that is in check by those who represented them, and overall, an America where freedom is self-determined by people, not by politicians.
Ratifying Article the First is only one method of increasing our representation to the point where the federal government will function. Perhaps 6,100 reps, as the amendment prescribes, is too many. Maybe another number, like 3,130, a little under one representative per 100,000 citizens, would be a better start. Congress has the power to increase the number of representatives at any time. However, this is unlikely to happen because it definitely means each individual member losing power and influence.
At this time, however, Article the First has already been ratified by eleven states, (some argue that Connecticut did ratify it, making it technically the law of the land), leaving 27 more to go.