I like the proposed "Wyoming" rule. That each representative will represent no more than the population of the smallest state.
Today that would mean about 562 reps, which is manageable, in line with most of the other major world democracies, and would make the electoral college much more fair and balanced as originally intended.
You could even go one step further and allow the top two or three vote-getters from each district to have a seat in the House, but their voting power is weighted by the number of votes they got.
...in which case the Dems would be the minority party, but the left in general would still hold a majority of the votes (assuming 2nd + 3rd > 1st + 4th).
> The framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights intended that the total population of Congressional districts never exceed 50 to 60 thousand. Currently, the average population size of the districts is nearly 700,000 and, consequently, the principle of proportionally equitable representation has been abandoned.
That was not originally intended, in addition to not trusting the people to directly elect leaders the electoral college was intended to give smaller states more power than they would have as a result of their population size alone. This was part of the deal, and it made the union agreeable to smaller states. If you wanna back out of the deal, it seems only fair to give any states that want to a chance to back out of the union.
Thanks to the 3/5's compromise...
But "0/5ths" for slaves would have been consistent with them being slaves. It's not like they were 60% free.
Then what were they compromising on? The formation and continuation of the US Government. Without the compromise there is no Electoral College.
Even if slavery didn't exist, the small state / big state dynamic still required a mechanism to balance the voting power between states. (This is often referred to as the Connecticut compromise.)
6,300 is manageable with modern technology; the capabilities are there to organise and make transparent large public voting system for thousands of politicians that would have been impractical even as recently as the 60s.
Non sequitur, and in the first paragraph. I mean, yes, if we had more districts, you could get closer to exactly equal population per representative, but a difference of a factor of two in a few districts is not an "abandonment" of the principle. It's the principle not working perfectly, which is perhaps not ideal, but is far less end-of-our-democracy than this tries to make it sound.
And if we did expand the House to 6,000 members, what would we get? We'd get 1000 self-important committees, or we'd get more members per committee, or both. Can you imagine the impeachment hearings if the committee had 500 members, each demanding their 5 minutes to grandstand with each witness?
Isn't the obvious answer to devolve more powers? Decide fewer things federally, and let states (or perhaps there should even be formalised voluntary groups of states?) diverge more in their approaches?
Perhaps not in the ceremony-heavy, grandstanding inviting format we currently use, but that sounds more like a problem that lies with the format, not the size of the governing body.
If if divides up the 6000 into smaller numbers, maybe with some hierarchical structure... then that's not one body of 6000.
A few hundred seems like the biggest room in which you can have something like a debate. And perhaps more importantly, many of them can know each many of the others, so that they can talk directly outside in the hallways, make deals, figure out who will support what.
The framers were smart enough to know their vision for the Government wouldn't be the best forever, or even the best a few decades from when they designed it. It was designed to be replaceable and update-able as needed.
Far from being outdated and past their time, the ideas behind the electoral college are greatly underutilized. The electoral college is thought by many to be somehow uniquely American, but this is not the case. Similar mechanisms — sometimes called "double-majority" systems — have been used in many different times and places in political history.
The current confusion about the mechanics of the electoral college appear to be largely a function of the fact that it is now widely forgotten that the United States is intended to be collection of independent states, and not a unitary political unit.
For an illustration of why a system like the electoral college is so essential, we can look to the European Union. Consider, for example, if the European Union were to hold a union-wide election for a single chief executive. (The EU does not hold such an election, however, because the EU is controlled by appointees, and because there is no president in the conventional sense.)
If the EU were to do this, we would immediately notice that a small handful of large and populous member countries could dominate election and policy decisions union-wide. Without some sort of mechanism to even out these disparities, smaller states wold continually be at the mercy of the larger ones.
For instance, Germany, France, and Italy by themselves constitute 47 percent of the population of the European Union (not counting the UK). The member countries with interests at odds with the large dominant states would be at a lopsided disadvantage. Small countries like the Czech Republic, for example, contain a mere two to five percent of the EU population and would be largely irrelevant to building a majority coalition in any sort of majority-rule system.
In the US, there is a similar imbalance with the 4 largest states (California, Texas, New York, and Florida) constituting one-third of the US population. The top-ten largest states total 54 percent of the US population. Thus, a citizen of, say, New Mexico, might find himself in a similar situation to the Czech voter if ever national political trends go against local needs and preferences.
In both the US and in our theoretical EU, double majority requirements have been — or could be — constructed to enhance the importance of small and medium-sized states. Wyoming's population for example — because of the way the electoral college is constructed — is more than four times more influential in the electoral college than in a nationwide popular vote. While being a small minority is always a problem when it comes to projecting political power, a system like the electoral college lessens the minority's disadvantage. Voting schemes like the electoral college, in other words, function as a check on overwhelming numerical advantages while giving a nod to geographical, cultural, and economic diversity across a large confederation.
Not surprisingly then, double-majority systems (or variations on the theme) have long been used to prevent the centralization of political power. A current example is the double-majority system used in Switzerland. Under the Swiss system, voter ballot initiatives must win both an electoral majority, and a majority vote in more than half of the member states (i.e., cantons).
Were such a system employed in the US, for example, any winning candidate would have to win both a popular majority and more than 25 states (or D.C.).
As it is, the electoral college rests on a modified "multiple-majority" system which nonetheless somewhat evens out population differences between small states and large states.
This could, of course, be extended to the states themselves. Politics would be quite different in California, for example, if gubernatorial candidates had to win both a popular majority and a majority of the state's counties.
Expand the Electoral College to Other National Contests
Double-majority and multiple-majority systems mandate more widespread support for a candidate or measure than would be needed under an ordinary majority vote.
Unfortunately, in the United States, it is possible to pass tax increases and other types of sweeping and costly legislation with nothing more than bare majorities from Congress which is itself largely a collection of millionaires with similar educations, backgrounds, and economic status. Even this low standard is not required in cases where the president rules via executive order with "a pen and ... a phone."
In response to this centralization of political power, the electoral college should be expanded to function as a veto on legislation, executive orders, and Supreme Court rulings.
For example, if Congress seeks to pass a tax increase, their legislation should be null and void without also obtaining a majority of electoral college votes in a manner similar to that of presidential elections. Under such a scheme, the federal government would be forced to submit new legal changes to the voters for approval. The same could be applied to executive orders and treaties. It would be even better to require both a popular-vote majority in addition to the electoral-vote majority. And while we're at it, let's require that at least 25 states approve the measures as well.
Those laws, regulations, and treaties that fail to obtain widespread geographical approval from a large number of states will automatically fail, and the elites in Washington will take to condemning elections and public political engagement as "cumbersome," "costly" and contrary to the wise decisions of the "experts" who know better.
When Civil War is being unironically thrown around by pundits, elected officials and the electorate itself, I don't think we should be saying any problem is not "end-of-our-democracy" worthy.
One of the few things both sides agree on is feeling that their votes don't count and that their beliefs are not represented. Whether this perception is based in reality or fantasy is irrelevant; the fact that so many who disagree on so much agree on this gives it credibility in my mind.
I think we have so many people right now that feel like they're not well represented by the folks who are currently representing them. And they feel like broad changes to the system we currently have will give them that representation.
I challenge the validity of the problem. Why do we believe they're not currently represented? I have a small state, but I do feel like we have had the opportunity to elect a representative as a group that mostly represents and is tied to our interests.
I think we're just lacking in decent representatives. Can we find people who are able to model conflict resolution instead of perpetuating this cultural war? As a leader, I'm responsible to represent everybody. Not just the people who put me in that position. And there are bound to be hard choices.
(disclosure: I intend to run for office and I'm currently putting together my plan)
You have to assume that if you changed the size of the committees, their behavior would change, too.
It probably would have given them a lock on the House, and the presidency too in close elections such as 2016.
They eventually did exactly that but only for judicial confirmation.
Fast forward and Arlen Specter, a fairly moderate republican.. actually arguably more liberal than Lieberman, switched parties in April 28, 2009 and gave the democrats +1 (to 57 +2 independents who caucus with democrats). Al Franken didn't get seated until about 8 months after he was elected due to it being contested with lawsuits. And then Ted Kennedy died. Again then there was always that issue that there were about 12 democrats in the Senate that called themselves "blue dog" democrats
It was during time when they did have 60 seats that they passed Healthcare reform, known as Obamacare. It was the best reform they could do to get everyone in the democratic party to sign on, with the moderates blocking a public option. The rollback of which (which includes medicaid expansion) has (arguably) helped cause the recent losses for republicans seen in Louisiana and Kentucky.
April 30, 2009
57 + 2 independent (Specter)
July 7, 2009
58 + 2 independent (Kennedy in the Senate still, but at home sick, as he had been for sometime)
August 25, 2009
57 + 2 independent (Kennedy died)
September 25, 2009
58 + 2 independent (Kennedy's Replacement, seated - Paul G. Kirk (D))
February 4, 2010
57 + 2 independent (Paul G. Kirk, a Democrat was defeated in a special election, in Massachusetts.. you know that same state where Elizabeth Warren is a sitting Senator)
So considering all that, especially that the democrats lost a seat in an election in Massachusetts, you better believe the public sentiment was against democrats at the time and those that were moderates didn't want to do sign onto anything that would have them lose their seat in a purple-ish state.
I found a slightly more in depth commentary on this here:
The reasoning behind it is a little confusing and when I try to remember it I usually state it wrong, but I think it's because the states won by Trump had more people (not voters, people) than the states won by Clinton.
The Democrats have ran the country like idiots, where they have repeatedly made good faith assumptions about the republicans and been betrayed every time.
When the system is broken, the least you do is fix it.
Also, blatant gerrymandering (Which is a far more anti-democratic version of this phenomena) has been heavily practiced in the US for many, many decades, and has, to my knowledge never resulted in bloody riots in the streets. 
 Most recently, the Supreme Court has ruled that if you're not happy with how your government gerrymanders, you should vote it out. It's a wonderfully ironic non-solution...
States rights and the phenomenon of some small states having large sway in elections was originally intended to stop highly populated cities from dominating the rural plantation/farming states way back when. We continue to see this now, California is left partly because of the huge amount of international immigration it has seen in the last 50 years. I want to emphasize that I am not anti immigration, I am just pointing out that it has a massive effect on the future of elections, and ignoring this effect is intellectually dishonest. Using electoral college as a voting system acts as an aqueduct from any one area completely dominating the national voting. Without the electoral college, all the left would need to do (which they are trying to do now), is to flood California with poor people from mexico, and then capture their children's votes/their votes in national elections. We will still see this play out in 20 or 30 years, but the system so far has stopped anti democratic attacks like this
This all sounds very reasonable, but if this is the case, why was the House of Representatives ever supposed to be proportional to population size?
That's what the Senate is supposed to be for. We aren't talking about the Senate.
> Without the electoral college, all the left would need to do (which they are trying to do now), is to flood California with poor people from mexico,
People aren't cattle, and nobody is 'flooding California with them' to win elections.
Ironically, for some reason, they are allowed to benefit politically from disenfranchised people (Stripped of their voting rights due to crime, or due to inability to demonstrate sufficient documentation, or due to being permanent residents, as opposed to citizens), while not allowing them to vote. For some reason, though, the right rarely takes issue with this idea (While harping non-stop about legal and illegal immigrants skewing California's representation.)
If you truly want to be fair, the number of seats each state gets should be determined based on voter turnout, as opposed to population. If a person is not permitted to, or does not care enough to vote, why should their state benefit from their representation? 
Consider how morally reprehensible, and hypocritical the three-fifths compromise was.
 This would, of course, make efforts at voter suppression delightfully counter-productive. If that's the can of worms we want to open, I'm fully behind it.
Furthermore, it is a lot harder/more expensive to lobby (or bribe) thousands of representatives versus a few hundred. It is harder for unethical activity to be undertaken without scrutiny.
While we're at it, let's also have runoff voting of some sort and get closer to issue-based voting rather than coalition/party-based tribalism.
As for those calling out the downsides of a direct democracy and exposure to uninformed voters - I would say we are already exposed to the risks of uninformed voters, and we are also exposed to all sorts of expensive political gamesmanship. To me it feels like our current democratic process (in the US anyways) is more of a popularity contest reflecting who has the biggest expenditure of [time/effort/money] and strongest populist ground game.
An alternative to live meetings is to move any procedures involving the full House to a web-based medium, similar to HN. Policy discussions can happen in comment threads. Representatives can travel to DC for committee meetings, but otherwise they can stay in their districts where the constituents they are representing actual live, and comment and cast votes online. Any representative can introduce a bill, and they can be passed quickly if they have the votes without a whole lot of procedural scheduling nonsense.
Legislation is created and negotiated behind the scenes usually by a small number of lead sponsors who then build a political coalition of support before the bill ever gets to a Committee hearing. Many(most?) committee hearings are perfunctory nonsense attended by just a handful of members and the vote count is an open secret beforehand.
I agree that Congress should explore online voting, but I don't know that the ultimate equilibrium would look that different than what we see today. The typical Member spends Monday to Thursday in DC, Thursday evening to Sunday + August recess + multiple weeklong recesses in district or on the road.
If online voting was adopted, smart Members would still strike a balance between spending time in DC building relationships with their colleagues (and raising money) and campaigning back in the district.
Perhaps committees are an outdated idea, that when you get down to it they're only a roadblock to getting stuff done and an impediment to democracy. (We can still have committees for hearings, and things like that. That's fine.)
Most of the 'work' they do happens in hallways and outside the actual committees.
And that's hard to do if you can't just call Joe or walk to his office to see him.
Can't wait for $PARTY party to yell "Conspiracy!" when their comments aren't showing up on the congressional web message board, while $OTHER_PARTY says they were simply "accidentally" deleted by the spam filter. Also something about Russian bots and hackers.
If some third party wants to mirror the site and let ordinary citizens post comments on their mirror, they could do that.
This isn't solved by having more representatives. It could best be solved by having a voting method that actually elects the "consensus candidate", which I would define as the first choice of the median voter.
As it is, Duverger's law forces it into a binary choice. (Parties arise mostly as a defense against the vote splitting that happens in plurality, and it inevitably converges on two dominant parties)
The federal government was never supposed to be this important. Four-hundred thirty-five representatives only have a hand full of responsibilities outlined in the Constitution. Somehow though they're concerned about who I'm married to and what I grow in my garden. The obvious solution is not to expand representatives, but to push power down to the local level where it belongs.
And two senators per state regardless of population is a feature not a bug.
Such a system can work well: some MPs are noble, forthright people, genuinely working for a better society. Plenty are just in it for themselves and private interests so far as I can tell, and happy to pay off the electorate with promises of milk & honey, better services and simultaneously low taxation.
Before Brexit I was very much for a more direct democracy, but honestly it seems that too many voters won't put in the work needed to wade through the mire of misinformation; really they are voting for three benefit of themselves only; or just lack the intellect to properly address the complex issues.
Until we get lobbyists and politicians locked up for lying, or purposeful misrepresentation then things can't improve.
That all said I still think something like the Swiss system (other places have similar) whereby referenda can be triggered by the people without backing of "representatives" is necessary.
Also, greater reflection of the breadth of the population through proportional representation is essential (but because it weakens the power base of those already in power is very hard to achieve).
Before the American Civil War, members of Congress did not have staff assistance or even offices, and "most members worked at their desks on the floor."
With the Freedom Caucus, we've seen what that a relatively small (approx. 30 members) coalition can buck leadership and drive their own agenda. If you expand Congress, I'd guess the likelihood of these coalitions increases (for better or worse).
At some point, you can't fit enough people into a chamber usefully. What do we do then?
If they had a platform like reddit where members could weigh in on bills by 'channel' and have discussion online -- they could do 95% of their jobs remotely maybe even 100%. They may need to travel for small things but that's a non-issue.
Why people are so afraid of change when ANYTHING is better than what we're currently dealing with in Washington. The entire system is one fucked up Republic just waiting for the fate of Rome to befall it. If it's not already too late. We've already lost our place as the #1 country in the world on SO many levels where it really matters: Education, Healthcare, Freedom, Journalistic Integrity, Propaganda, Human Services, etc...
I also don't take dissenting opinions from a 1920s Missouri representative seriously
or that Geocities website
but in the spirit of not immediately discrediting the sources or ad hominem attacks, it does at least makes me wonder if the 435 cap was arbitrary and capricious
The solution is keep representatives local. At the age of internet, there is no reason why they need to be in DC to allow lobbyists to access all of them in 1 place.
Direct democracy is the only real democracy, and there's no good reason why we don't have 100% direct democracy in 2019 aside from the fact that a bunch of wannabe celebs would lose their jobs (aka politicians).
Politics is mostly about self service, and boosting your own ego and influence. Politicians have historically not voted on legislation in ways that are aligned with their constituents. Instead, they vote on legislation which helps keep them in their positions of power (i.e., to appease lobbyists and campaign contributors).
There's a good podcast about this very issue: https://www.npr.org/podcasts/481105292/more-perfect
Imagine all of the low information voters you know being asked to vote on complex technical issues that even most representatives can't grasp, most of whom have completed many years of post-graduate college.
Direct democracy is great in theory but the representative part play an important role in balancing the flighty whims of the masses with reality.
But, of course, it also allows the government to lose touch with the will of the people.
Now imagine that you were expecting the sorts of people who become Reddit moderators to do that on behalf of all the low information voters. Well, actually, you don't have to imagine it because that's basically what we have with congress.
And I agree college should be government funded. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of lack of interest.
If we instead focused on bringing MORE people to the table, increase diversity, you'll find diverse views want more/better education. Better education brings progress. I mean it's the educated who are touting climate change and it's effects not the uneducated. The uneducated believe everything on Fox news, while the rest of the world watches in disbelief.
But if those Fox news watchers wanted to run for one of 6k seats more power to them because they might learn something as a representative, maybe they'd even change their view points as they get mire in politics. Maybe they don't change. Warren, Scarborough, many on the left once were on the right and moved their entire view points. So it's possible to change political outlooks.
I don't think direct democracy would work but MORE representative would. direct would just be hard to control. Liquid democracy would be the ideal, but also a hard system to implement.
(Maybe we're already there!)
May as well be advocating for a benevolent dictatorship.
Just like California. And that system has arguably caused many problems in California. The budget is a mess because of the referendum system. And California has a population four times that of Switzerland.
There are many issues that our representatives vote on that are impacted by knowledge that the general public does not and likely should not have. Top secret information does have purpose, even if, in many cases, it has be twisted for a small group to maintain power.
Citizens should be expected to keep up with affairs, understand issues, and vote on every issue that comes up.
They don't have to be experts on issues: actual experts can present the different sides of an issues. Judges are not experts on the things they decide over either (neither are jurors), and a CEO is rarely an expert on the technicalities of the stuff their company produces.
Besides, it's irrelevant whether they "correctly" understand an issue or not. Since the result of a vote affects them too, they should get a say, like everybody else.
Democracy is not some process to select the "right" decision. It's a process so that everyone participates with their choice in the decision.
Liquid democracy works better...where I trust Bernie Sanders so I delegate my vote to him. Say he has 50 million votes, and Nancy Pelosi has 25 million... Sander's votes in congress on issues would be 2x more effective/powerful than Pelosi's.
If a politician votes against someone's interest they can revoke that person's voting power. It doesn't even have to be politicians..I could give my vote to a neighbor or friend or Bill Gates or Elon Musk.
As for the meaning of the word, it simply means that the people are ultimately the ones that are answered to. Just because you can imagine some ideal that you consider "more democratic" doesn't mean the rest of us have to use the word that way.
Interesting. Did people actually tested this and showed that it doesn't work? Was anybody asked what system to use? Did anybody vote for it not to be applied (even through representative democracy)?
Where's the proof that it "doesn't work in anything of any size"?
And why can't this "anything of any size" be broken down on smaller pieces where it works?
Who said once in four years is ideal? Who asked for N congressmen and not more, and who tried it experimentally to find the right number?
>As for the meaning of the word, it simply means that the people are ultimately the ones that are answered to.
It was coined to refer to a specific system. Not any system where "people are ultimately the ones that are answered to".
In fact, in modern "democracy" people are not "ultimately the ones that are answered to". They're just the ones who get to select candidates put forward to them, once every four years. Nobody answers to the people. At best, you can do what you like, break promises, etc, and you just wont be re-elected.
In the original version you could be immediately thrown out of power, exiled, or even executed if the people didn't like any particular action you took at any moment.
>Just because you can imagine some ideal that you consider "more democratic"
It's not some "ideal", it's an actual instance of the thing as it was put in practice.
In fact it's earlier, more original, and more pragmatic than the current system.
I'd think a good starting point would be a local club or something. Don't elect officers, just vote on every issue. If you're lucky, you'll find that every issue you'd want to vote on easily distills down to a binary choice, and it will be obvious what the two choices will be, and what issues there will be to vote on. If not, maybe you can come up with some way to vote on what will be on the ballot. Maybe you'll find yourself rapidly descending down a rabbit hole, or maybe it will work out swimmingly. I'm sure we'd like to see.
As if the current plan asked people to get "on board"?
You just go with the system that was there when you were born and what you were told to accept, and even learned to justify it as if God given.
Well, the US system didn't happen without some degree of public support, but that's neither here nor there. A significant number of people had to be convinced that it was a good idea (i.e. better than what had existed before), and they were willing to hash through the details. Generally if the end result is to be a radical change in government, a whole lot of people are going to have to die. Historically, anyway.
"You just go with the system that was there when you were born and what you were told to accept,"
Well I've got a public history that goes back nearly 20 years that says otherwise. (see a few samples below). I am happy to say our current system is very broken. But any system I propose, I go to effort to show it is fairly well thought through. Notably, my proposals don't try to redo everything, but concentrate on something that actually could be changed realistically. Without a war, would be my preference. (and even if you are the type who says "I'm ok with war", well, you still kinda have to convince more than a few people to join your side)
So...I am very curious how you address some of the questions about how democracy (or, what I would call "direct democracy" as opposed to "representative democracy") would actually work. How do you decide what is on the ballot? (do you vote on that too? How?) Do you turn everything into a binary choice, and use a simple majority vote? Do you have more than two choices, and just pick the one with the most votes, plurality style? Or, better yet, rank them or do Approval voting?
And possibly most importantly, to what granularity are you going to go? When a decision is needed, such as whether to put up a traffic light (or just stick with stop signs) at a particular intersection, does everyone need to vote on it? How about a sick tree on the sidewalk, that needs to be removed or treated? Do you hire employees (i.e. representatives) to make decisions? Or does everybody need to vote on it? And again, what if there are more than two options?
My view is that all proposals for direct democracy I have seen are poorly thought through. (and tend to be proposed by dichotomous thinkers) I challenge you to write a detailed proposal up and defend it. (if you prefer, base it on a "starting from scratch" premise, here's one you can use: http://www.karmatics.com/petridish/ )
I suspect there is a reason it's never been tried at scale, because anyone who suggests it tends to run for cover when they are asked "what exactly do you want us to try?"