Like you, I’ve been watching the fiscal cliff curb slight indentation and thinking, “My goodness, the House really is broken!” So how do we fix it? Here are three suggestions:

(1) End gerrymandering.
(2) Get stupid amounts of money out of campaigns (Super PACs, etc.).
(3) Increase the size of the House.

Yes, you read that last one correctly. According to the Constitution (you know, that document the Tea Party loves until it is used to help non-white non-males), each Representative should only represent 30,000 people. In the early 20th century, it was decided to cap the size of the House (at least in voting members) at 435. Using 1920 Census numbers, that means each Representative had approximately 244,000 constituents. Today, each Rep has over 700,000 constituents on average.

A few years back, when I was avoiding working on the dissertation, I created a spreadsheet postulating different House sizes and how many Representatives each state would get. I am attaching this spreadsheet now (you will need Excel). I believe I did the math correctly, but will welcome corrections. Check out all the different tabs.


What do you think – time to increase the size of the House? How would it be done? What systematic changes would need to be made to the institution? I have some ideas, which I will discuss in a later post.


I’ll say it again: Go see Lincoln.

Here’s an interesting read on the film, from Sarah Binder of George Washington University. I enjoyed the scenes in the House, and I do love how…how raucous debate was. This was good stuff – not the smoke and mirrors of contemporary political debate or empty suits repeating talking points, but really smart people having an intense discussion about important issues, keenly aware of their place in history.