A Whole New District
The elimination of districts and addition of proportional representation will give everyone a say in the House of Representatives.
- The House of Representatives should be elected directly by the people through proportional voting for political parties.
- The Federal Government needs to be out of the business of defining what is a political party in order to break the Democrat/Republican oligopoly.
- 4.4 million people living in the Territories should have just as many rights to representation as those living in States.
One of the core arguments I have been making is that the “Winner Takes All” system through districts is not getting us anywhere near the breakdown of the American populace. While we have looked at education, wealth, age, race/ethnicity, gender/identity/sexuality, and other measures, the core one is political affiliation. The purpose of a political party is to group together like-minded people into a single force. Yet, the two main parties in America are so large that there is no way they can cover these nuanced and various viewpoints. And this can be seen in States where one party dominates the legislature and there is still great discord.
Though the Founders wanted to avoid political parties, it is just not in human psychology. Humans will create groups no matter what, and we must accept that this is going to always be the situation. While there will be outliers that are complete loners, even that is a group of just one (or often, few similar minded people). Most other western democracies have accepted this fact and allow legislatures to be proportionately driven. That is why earlier I said to think of the House of Representatives as the “Legislature of the People” because that is what it is supposed to do. The House should be the reflection of the people’s will at the Federal level, and the only way to do that is with direct votes of a party and eliminating other factors.
In order to make that happen, we need to start making Amendments to the Constitution right near the beginning. For this and all Amendments, additions are in Bold and removals are shown as <strike>striked out</strike>. Sections that have already been removed or modified by prior Amendments are not shown and are assumed to already be the current version of the text, though can be reviewed in the Appendix. Any Amendment, law, reference, or statement throughout this document that uses a seemingly masculine singular pronoun should be considered to represent all people — it is just that this author prefers using a singular pronoun (and not multiple singular pronouns slashed together, which could be read plural and still be exclusionary) that cannot be confused for a plural one (especially when keeping in line with the original language of the Constitution and law) and English lacks a generally agreed upon gender-neutral singular pronoun, otherwise.
By Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 1 shall read:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every <strike>second</strike> fourth Year on the even years opposite elections for President and Vice President by the People of the several States and Territories<strike>, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature</strike>. Political Parties shall create Lists of one hundred persons in order of preference to be considered for Membership. The Government of the United States and the Governments of the States and Territories shall provide no support to Political Parties for determining their Lists and the Political Parties are solely responsible for determining the method of developing their Lists. Nor shall the Government of the United States nor the Governments of the States and Territories provide any other type of support or resources for internal Political Party decisions. The people of the United States and its Territories shall vote for the Political Parties directly. There shall be no criteria for a Political Party to appear on the ballots save producing the List of candidates, though the List must be limited to those people who meet the criteria for the House of Representatives as written in the Constitution.
Let us go through these various revisions in order.
First, currently the entire House of Representatives is re-elected every two years, with plenty of special elections to fill vacated seats. Because of this two-year cycle and the focus on individual races, most Representatives spend a majority of their time campaigning and fundraising. This is hardly a way to govern, so let us first aim to smooth out the schedule to make it every four years for elections of the House of Representatives. Later, this same recommendation will be made for the Senate, meaning that the entire legislature will be replaced on a four-year cycle.
That is why the next point is on the timing to have these elections be opposite the elections for the Executive Branch. That will give the people a voice during the middle of a President’s term to have a say about what priorities are: do they want more legislators in line with the President and push forward the Executive agenda, or do they want to rein the office in? Since the legislature truly creates the laws and processes of the country and the President is supposed to execute those rules, this means the legislature will always be a check just by being elected. Additionally, with both the House and Senate being completely re-elected, it makes every election very important as all locations will be having their major races at the same time. This will maximize voter turnout in each of the Federal election cycles with so much at stake each time.
Next is a small change in the wording of who elects the House of Representatives. Right now, the Constitution talks about the “People of the several States” and similar phrases not just here, but repeatedly throughout. The issue is that around 4.4 million Americans live in “Territories”, not “States” (though this number may be several hundred thousand fewer as people have fled Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria — and other disasters that have followed — and have not returned). When the United States came together, the States controlled territory that might not be contiguous (IE, Massachusetts controlled what is now Maine) or was in conflict with neighbors (Vermont was carved out of disagreements between New Hampshire, New York, and others). However, over time, the United States via partition, purchase, treaty, and warfare acquired lands that were not part of any States.
Today, there are 16 recognized territories where 6 have regular populations — Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, North Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C. is actually a “Federal District” which is different than a “Territory”, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll call it a “Territory” anyway). While some may claim that these locations do not lack representation because they can send Delegates to the House of Representatives, the Delegates have no ability to vote on legislation. Nor can any of these locations except for Washington, D.C. vote in Presidential elections as they do not have Electoral College members (the 23rd Amendment granted this special status to “The District constituting the seat of Government”, which is currently Washington, DC). And to add further insult, unlike the rest of these territories the people of American Samoa (nearly 56,000) are not considered citizens and do not have the free movement rights that the other locations have. Instead, they are considered “American Nationals”, which basically means they are treated like foreigners even though they are under American control. We will come back to them later, as well.
In September 2019, the Cherokee Nation decided for the first time to enforce a clause in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota (that subsequently led to the Trail of Tears, a forced mass relocation of natives from their lands to less desirable areas and also accounted for a significant number of fatalities) that allows the Tribe to also send a non-voting Delegate to the House of Representatives. At the time of this writing, Congress has not passed the necessary legislation to accept this Delegate, but it is expected to do so. That said, it remains an open question in this redesigned House of Representatives how a Delegate like this one would fit in or if such a Delegate should exist at all. If the latter situation, the Treaty of New Echota would need to be renegotiated. Since natives make up only around 1% of the population, even if every single one voted for the same Party, it would still be challenging to get a single voting Representative elected, thus making the case to still include the non-voting Delegate.
In the meantime, it is most important to note that that among around 4.4 million people there is no representation and say. At this juncture, we are not talking about the territory system, just that people who are citizens or protectorates of the United States should have a voice in the Federal Government. They are directly impacted by every government decision yet have no say in how those decisions come together nor how they are enforced. This is patently discriminatory to a large group of people who should have some input.
Furthermore, even estimating that Puerto Rico has a population of 3.2 million at the end of 2018, that would be nearly 1% of the entire population in what would be the 29th largest State or Territory. In other words, similar and smaller states Utah (3.1 million), Iowa (3.1 million), Nevada (3.0 million), Arkansas (3.0 million), Mississippi (3.0 million), and Kansas (2.9 million) all have a say with four Representatives and two Senators each while Puerto Rico has no say whatsoever. What is the difference between Puerto Rico and the people of those States? Why should Puerto Rico not have equal representation in the Federal Government?
No, in order to get equal representation all people must be counted, and that extends further into the next and most sweeping change.
The crux of all arguments until this point have been that the win/lose by district method is eliminating representation. Many other western-style democracies elect their legislature by political party and not directly of individuals that cover specific odd-shaped slices of the country. The House of Representatives should follow a similar methodology in order to align to the will of the people directly. In other words, it will not be a zero-sum game of winning and losing, but a distribution game by the intent of the people. This would bring further engagement of the populous because people would have actual representation no matter where they live and what their beliefs are.
Here, let us return to an earlier chart with some modifications. If you will recall when we last looked at party preference, we stated that the election did not align to either how people voted nor how they identify. If we extrapolate a few assumptions, we can see a couple of different scenarios in how a straight party election would result in a very different distribution of the House of Representatives:
- Scenario 1: 95% of Democrats and Republicans vote for their preferred party, 2% of Democrats and Republicans vote for the other party, 3% of Democrats and Republicans vote for 3rd Parties, 40% of Independents vote Republican, 40% of Independents vote Democrat, 20% of Independents vote for 3rd Parties, and all Unknowns vote for 3rd Parties.
- Scenario 2: 95% of Democrats and Republicans vote for their preferred party, 2% of Democrats and Republicans vote for the other party, 3% of Democrats and Republicans vote for 3rd Parties, 20% of Independents vote Republican, 20% of Independents vote Democrat, 60% of Independents vote for 3rd Parties, and all Unknowns vote for 3rd Parties.
In this, we get two Scenarios where Scenario 1 is most Independents lean either Democrat or Republican and Scenario 2 where a small majority of Independents lean 3rd Party. This results in a striking re-adjustment of the House:
Even in Scenario 1, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans would have been able to take single party control of the House. In order to pass legislation, they would have to work with others! This, most of all, is the utmost critical element of this process: breaking up the oligopoly of the two major political parties and getting more competition and diversity. Instead of extremists of either the left or the right being able to control the agenda for as long as they are in charge, discussion and deals among many parties with particular needs would be necessary.
This brings us full circle back to the methodology. We will return shortly to determining the total number of members, but in this Amendment we establish how the Parties should prepare, and that is by creating a list of 100 members in order of preference. Since the suggestion is not to have voters pick an individual person, then they are aligning to a Party based upon a platform. Within the Party, though, there should be a list of the people intended to fill the positions in the House of Representatives and voters should be familiar with those people to make a decision on the group as a whole. The particular number will also be covered in detail ahead, however the important part here is the generation of the List in order to determine who the Parties are putting up for election. Therefore, even though it is voting for a platform, there are still specific people attached to that platform. The 100 number is also a good way to make sure a Party has enough people involved in order to stand a chance of electing a person and gaining enough of the populace.
Further through this Amendment is what has been discussed above; people will vote directly for the Parties and that all people will be included. Sandwiched in between these thoughts is another concept: getting the Federal Government out of Party business. Part of the issue with the Democrat/Republican oligopoly is that they have created rules that have the Federal, State, and local governments spending time, money, and resources on what should be internal Party responsibility. In particular, the fact that Primaries are conducted as if they are part of the election system and that government should support them is completely the antithesis to equal protections.
Who Are These People?
How can Congress reflect the will of the people when it cannot even reflect the makeup of the people?
Why should the Government spend any time and resources on helping a Political Party decide who is going to run in their spot for an election? That is purely a Party responsibility, and as such this Amendment makes it clear that there is a separation of roles between the Government and those running to be in it. The act of coming up with a list of candidates and putting them in order of preference is a methodology that the Parties must decide themselves. If they need to go through a Primary process, it is up to them to create a voting process and pay for that process. Neither the United States government nor the governments of States, Territories, Counties, Cities, or any other division should have a responsibility for determining how an — essentially — nonprofit organization makes management decisions.
Finally, in order to fully remove the Government from being involved with Political Parties, all criteria for what is a “Political Party” needs to be removed. One of the major issues for third parties like Libertarians, Greens, and others is that they must go State-by-State and meet criteria that may be impossible unless they were already on a ballot. And even after they pass that criteria, they can still be removed and have to go through the process all over again.
Take for instance Maryland in March 2019. Libertarian and Green Party members — those registered with the State through their voter registration system — received a letter stating that their parties no longer met the criteria and their registration was being changed. Meanwhile, the Parties would have to go through a process to get themselves re-established at great cost of time and money. One of the criteria is to get 10,000 signatures from voters. Meanwhile, the Libertarians already had 20,000 registered voters before this purge, so it created an unnecessary re-verification of what should already have been known.
At the same time, the Parties are suing the State costing the taxpayers money. What it comes down to is a simple set of questions:
- Why is the Government in the business of defining what is a Political Party?
- Why is the Government limiting choices of the voters for any reason?
- Why is the Government wasting taxpayer resources to determine what Political Parties should be in or out?
If Apple, Google, and Microsoft got together and had the government agree that they were the only three companies you could buy technology from unless other companies passed some capricious criteria that the large companies designed, it would rightfully be called collusion and be struck down. Yet here we have the same situation where the Democrats and Republicans have done exactly that in order to limit their competition, just at the political level. There is no hope for other voices to be heard so long as Lucy is holding the football and can move it any time.
As shown in the prior section, it is not just political affiliation that is a cause for concern, but other odd limitations put in place by the Constitution. With that, the next small Amendment can be made:
By Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2 shall read:
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of <strike>twenty five Years</strike> voting maturity as defined by the Constitution and Congress <strike>,</strike> and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States <strike>, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen</strike>.
We have previously noted that Congress does not match up into the ages of the people of the United States and therefore cannot represent the differing concerns of each age group. Why were these particular age limitations put in place in the first place? Because the Founders feared a youth (re: poorer) movement would not understand the functions of government. But removing this criterion is akin to saying, “If you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to be able to serve in government.” Since the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18, then this would align with that. However, it is always possible that could change in any direction in the future and as such the age listed for voting should be used everywhere and this directive should be tied to that number, not a separate listing that has to be modified.
Going back to the function of how the candidates would now become part of the House of Representatives, this Amendment basically replaces an entire Clause and part of an existing Amendment:
By Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 shall read:
<strike>The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.</strike> The number of Members of the House of Representatives shall be no less than one hundred. The Members shall be determined by taking the number of votes for a Political Party and dividing among total votes to get a proportional vote. Those attaining at least one percent of the vote shall receive a Seat and shall receive an additional Seat for each percentage point above that. Partial percentages shall always be rounded up to the next highest full number. With the number of Seats by each Party set, the Members shall be filled by the Lists provided by the Political Parties.
Further, Article/Amendment 14, Clause 2 shall exclude the following statement:
<strike>Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.</strike>
Just to clear this all up, there are currently 435 members of the House of Representatives as that is what Congress decided it should be. Further court and Congressional decisions set up the districts we have today. Since this would be a direct vote, districts would not be needed at all nor minimal numbers for each Representative. This is about creating something akin to proportional representation while also minimizing the size of the House. Let us go through a few situations to see how these numbers come out:
- If one party receives 99.00…1% or higher of the vote, they would receive 100 Seats, which would be the absolute minimum. Since no other Party will have passed the 1% threshold, they would be alone in the House of Representatives; thus showing why a list of 100 people is necessary because it is the maximum number of potential Members that a Party can receive.
- If 99 Parties receive 1.00…1% of the vote, then any other Party cannot reach the 1% threshold. Since all percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number, each of the 99 Parties would receive 2 Seats. Therefore, the House of Representatives would have a maximum of 198 Members.
- Both of those situations are highly unlikely. In the 2018 election, no third party made the 1% threshold by themselves so that election would have ended up with 55 Democrats and 46 Republicans.
- However, as previously established, third parties receive so few votes because of the various methods of suppression. Since there is not good enough data on third parties, if we go back to Scenarios 1 and 2 we may have ended up with either…
- — — 46 Democrats + 43 Republicans + 12 Other Parties = 101 Members
- — — 38 Democrats + 36 Republicans + 28 Other Parties = 102 Members
Either of these situations and how many seats the Other Parties have may completely depended upon how small a percentage each one gets. If there are 28 parties with 1.00…1% of the vote a piece, they would each get 2 seats. As such, a potential maximum in these cases would be…
- — — 46 Democrats + 43 Republicans + 24 Other Parties = 113 Members
- — — 38 Democrats + 36 Republicans + 56 Other Parties = 130 Members
The latter situation is particularly interesting in that it makes all Other Parties the largest party by Members. While none individually would the largest Party, by design it gives them an outstripped power so that the larger parties cannot run roughshod over them and dismiss their claims. In other words, it is a check within the House to make sure those in the minority are still heard and must be worked with.
Right now, with a large number of members, the House of Representatives is also quite inefficient. It is difficult to work with — nonetheless meet and know — so many other people. By pruning the size of the House, it is an attempt to make it more efficient and reasonable to work in, especially considering the disparity in opinions this system would set up.
Finally, there is one bit of housekeeping for the House:
By Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 4 shall read:
When vacancies happen in the Representation <strike>from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies</strike> the Parties elected shall fill those vacancies from the next eligible and available names on their Lists.
Basically, instead of expensive new elections in an area and a long time without some people having representation, a stability is created. With the pre-defined Lists, the next people in line are already there and if for any reason a replacement is needed, it is a simple measure to put a new person in place.
With that, we have covered all the main areas that completely changes the House of Representatives into the “House of the People”. The only Clause not discussed is the 5th one that covers selecting the Speaker of the House and other Officers. Again, there are no Constitutional rules to contend with, so the Clause shall remain unchanged. That said, the process will be much more interesting with more parties involved because if no party ever has the majority then no one can just be “made” the Speaker.
This brings up interesting parallels to the Parliamentary Democracies around the world. Unlike the United States, countries like the United Kingdom, Israel, Norway, and others do not have a strong or any type of Executive system and instead the Legislature is almost purely in charge. The Legislature goes through a process of forming a “coalition” of parties and those parties vote on the Prime Minister who is essentially the true Head of State. Here, the power would be completely limited to just being the Speaker of the House, so the deal-making for determining Speaker would most likely come down to those “other Officers” — what we know today as committee heads (another fabricated function that is not part of the Constitution).
How the House of Representatives intends to organize and govern itself should be left mostly up to itself. However, there will be certain provisions we will review later to ensure a smooth process and the ability of legislation to be able to come to the floor. Congress has many self-inflicted hurdles that require dismantling, but for the moment we will continue to focus on the makeup of the body.
The last right the House of Representatives has in the 5th Clause is the Power of Impeachment. While the language is still rather vague, the process makes sense throughout the rest of the Constitution with the Senate. What does not make sense is the makeup of the Senate itself, and that is the next stop on our journey.
TO BE CONTINUED…