18 January 2011

The Myth of Representative Democracy in America


Obviously, more legislators doesn’t equal more freedom, or even less restrictive government. All of the countries on this list are arguably worse off than the US in some ways. But these numbers do undercut the mythology that the US is somehow uniquely democratic-republican in its government. The US House is one of the least “representative” assemblies in the so-called free world.

It seems ludicrous, at least to me, to think that 435 people would do anything even resembling the idea of adequately representing 300 million people.  It also seemed ludicrous to the founding fathers:  the constitution required that there be a representative for every 30,000 in population, which would require nearly 10,000 representatives.

More representatives may not lead to a better government, but it seems difficult to see how it would lead to a worse government.  There are undoubtedly some who would complain that the democratic process would be drawn out.  To me, that sounds like a benefit, not a downside.  Plus, it would be very expensive to corrupt the thousands of representatives, in the event that a politician or corporation wanted to receive special favors.

While there is no way America will ever revert to the original system outlined in the constitution, it is interesting to think how things would be different if it did.

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