Monday, January 24, 2011

Do we need more politicians?

Yes, according to this column in the New York Times.  The argument is not absurd: At the founding, one Congressman represented about 60,000 people.  In 1913, he represented about 200,000.  Today, he represents about 700,000.

The number of seats, 435, has been fixed since Arizona and New Mexico became states almost a century ago.  Before then, Congress generally increased the number of seats when the Census showed an increase in population.  But Nordicus is disinclined to believe that a shortage of politicians is a cause of our political problems.

Today, the authors note, the Congressman (or candidate) is unlikely to be in touch with his community.  He can't just walk the district like his predecessors did.  I'm not so sure: Gabrielle Giffords sure made an effort, and many other Representatives do, too.  Besides, with modern technology, there are many ways for representatives and their constituents to communicate, other than face to face.

Furthermore, I don't really want a Congressman to be "in touch with the community" (in the sense that the authors suggest), because Congress should not be legislating for "the (local) community", but national issues as enumerated in the Constitution.  On the other hand, state and local politicians should very much be "in touch" with the "community".

We don't need more Congressmen.  What we need is for the ones we already have to do less, and stick to the Constitution.

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