I had this notion a few years ago, and checked through the U. S. Constitution. That document sets an upper limit on the number of Representatives in Congress (1 per 30,000 people), but no lower limit. The actual number of representatives is set by Congress itself. What we need to do is badger them into increasing their numbers from a paltry 435...to about 9,000. I'm serious. The goal is to have the maximum number of representatives allowed under the Constitution, "meeting" in cyberspace on moderated USENET groups (everyone could read them, but only Representatives could post messages), and living at home among their constituents.
What are the benefits?
I'm soliciting comments from anyone who reads this. Send email to the address at the bottom of this page.
with only 30,000 constituents, and residing in his district, a representative could (and should) be accessible to any resident of his district who wanted to talk to him with 9,000 representatives, it's not worthwhile to bribe one (you still have to get 4,499 more); a secondary effect is that campaign finance laws can be relaxed (who's going to pay millions to elect one politician out of 9,000?) with Congress scattered all over the country, being a lobbyist becomes incredibly difficult; we might expect Congress to become less reactive to special-interest groups, more responsive to us with the House meeting on the internet, anyone can monitor the debate...and bitch to his representative if he doesn't like what he's reading lower salaries for representatives; after all, he doesn't have to buy/rent a house in D.C., and he only represents 30,000 people, anyway... re-districting every ten years becomes a lot easier; the current process is complicated by the need to set up some districts with a majority population of a minority group. At 30,000 people per representative, that's not just easy to do; it's almost unavoidable. it separates the policy-makers (Congress), from the executives (the President and the bureaucracy)...Congress should be close to the people, not the government it disperses representatives across the country; no single attack could kill off the entire House...maybe the Senate should also function this way?
Mark Hagerman 2001-July-21