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bernorange

covid19 potentially opening door to proportionally equitable representation?

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I was skimming the DT Coronavirus thread and saw a reference to this story:

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The entire state legislature of Georgia is being urged to self-quarantine after a state senator who participated in a vote on Monday has tested positive for the coronavirus.  ...

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/entire-georgia-state-legislature-urged-to-self-quarantine-after-positive-coronavirus-test/ar-BB11pwm6

I got to thinking about the drive for many businesses and industries right now to implement systems for remote working as people are trying to stay home because of covid19.  I haven't really heard anything about governments (state or federal) trying to implement the same, but I wonder if examples like Georgia might get some inertia moving. 

If covid19 ends up forcing governments to build out and normalize the use of remote working technology - like holding legislative sessions via some structured webex type system, perhaps some real good might come from it.  Because that foundation would make it feasible to re-establish proportionally equitable representation.

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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.
...

https://thirty-thousand.org/

Suddenly, having more legislators wouldn't be a problem.  They don't need to occupy the same physical space.  Running for office would be cheaper and legislators would be more accountable to their constituents.

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So you want to dramatically increase the number of Congress critters we have running around DC?

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1 minute ago, conVINCEd said:

So you want to dramatically increase the number of Congress critters(1) we have running around DC(2)?

(1) Yes

(2) No

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3 hours ago, conVINCEd said:

So you want to dramatically increase the number of Congress critters we have running around DC?

They wouldn’t be in DC. 

They would be in their districts. 

What was so difficult to understand?

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Entrenched interests are frightened of a more democratic society. 

The House (House of Commons) was always intended to be a counterbalance to the Senate (House of Lords). That balance is out of whack. 

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16 minutes ago, Napoleon said:

They wouldn’t be in DC. 

They would be in their districts. 

What was so difficult to understand?

My fault.  Browsing lots of stuff and didn’t reread for clarity before responding.

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Posted (edited)

I hope so but I doubt it. @bernorange you know I have been in favor of this change for a very long time. Fewer constituents per legislator means a legislator who is more responsive to their constituents. And a very nice byproduct is that it makes it a whole lot more expensive for well-moneyed interests to buy off enough legislators to guarantee passage or rejection of a bill.

Concentration of wealth, increasing population, and stagnant number of representatives is a triple whammy that makes oligarchy more possible in a representative republic.

Edited by Huckleberry

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* bump *

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The House’s vote on Friday to allow lawmakers to work from afar will fundamentally change how Congress operates.
...
... With Friday’s party-line vote, 217 to 189, as long as the public health emergency persists, lawmakers from Alaska to Florida need not leave the safety of their own homes to question witnesses at a hearing, sign subpoenas or vote on legislation.

The new rules immediately allow for any member to vote remotely by giving precise, binding instructions to a proxy who is able to be present on the House floor. They also provide, pending certification, for a process in which lawmakers will eventually be able to cast their votes technologically from home, either via a secure online portal or a video conferencing system.
...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/15/us/politics/remote-voting-house-coronavirus.html

This is a huge step.  As of the moment, it's supposedly a temporary measure (without a specific end date), but much like private sector business embracing work from home as the new normal, it might end up sticking. 

 

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There really isn't a reason, in this day and age, that we can't do better than 1:750,000 or whatever the ratio is right now. We don't have to have tens of thousands of seats in the house, but even expanding to something like 3,500-5,000 would bring us down below 1:100,000, which is in line with, say, the Austin City Council. *pauses, thinks about whether or not you want the federal government to be comparable to CoA in any way*.

You can still assemble that group physically in DC for one-off occasions like State of the Union or Inauguration too. Plenty of arena/convention space that can be used temporarily, retrofit the house chambers to be more of a dense auditorium for the long haul. The cybersecurity concern is valid given how outdated/neglected a good chunk of federal technology infrastructure is, but we are/are going to be looking at a decent amount of laid off coders that will work for relatively cheap. Now is the time for such a project.

It'd make congress more accessible, both to constituents and candidates. It'd sure as fuck make congress younger. It'd make it logistically more difficult to buy votes, and you'd actually have a chance for some minor third party blocs to emerge, which could help make things less polarized.

Keep the senate at 100 seats if you want. The point is equal representation for each state, who cares what the number is. But the house should expand dramatically.

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Need to fix districting. I don't trust assholes with server farms and exabytes of data to draw districts in any sort of equitable manner.

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Posted (edited)

I don’t understand why we don’t have legislators that work remotely with maybe a few committee heads in Washington. It would allow them to have much more equitable representation and it would also force representatives to live in and be apart of the community they represent. They would work from their district office and can do Webex or zoom or whatever for any meetings.

Edited by hobbes2702

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Quote

Republicans in the House are planning to challenge in court a proxy voting procedure Democrats pushed through earlier this month for colleagues who are in quarantine or otherwise housebound during the coronavirus pandemic, according to three Republican officials.

The first proxy votes are set to be cast this week when the House considers several pieces of legislation, including modifications to a popular loan program for small businesses and an extension of the federal government’s surveillance authority.

During House debate on the rule change, which would enable a single lawmaker to cast votes on behalf of up to 10 colleagues, Republicans had denounced the move as unconstitutional.

Democrats, led by Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, cited opinions from constitutional law experts in support of the change. At least 50 Democrats have filed with the clerk’s office saying they plan to use the system this week.

A House Republican aide said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will be the lead plaintiff along with other House members and four constituents in the suit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House officials.

The GOP likely faces an uphill climb in a lawsuit because the Constitution lets the House set its own rules.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-26/gop-plans-court-challenge-to-house-move-to-allow-proxy-voting?srnd=premium

I know most people are focused on other issues of the day, but I really think in the decades to come that history could judge this as a pivotal issue that changed the status quo in DC.  We'll see.

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