13 votes

Why the House of Representatives should be far bigger

37 comments

  1. [36]
    skybrian
    Link
    I have sometimes wondered if a multi-level system would be better. Suppose you had local representatives for 1,000 voters or so, and a thousand of them together chose a representative in turn?...

    I have sometimes wondered if a multi-level system would be better. Suppose you had local representatives for 1,000 voters or so, and a thousand of them together chose a representative in turn? Ideally this wouldn't be based much on geography; you'd pick someone you like from your state and if they have a thousand voters they're in at the first level.

    The plan in this article seems more doable since it doesn't require any change to the Constitution. I wonder how politics would work in a representative body that big, though?

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      json
      Link Parent
      Think of how bad the electoral college is as a representation of the popular vote of the president. Now expand on that into multiple levels of delegated representation.

      Think of how bad the electoral college is as a representation of the popular vote of the president.

      Now expand on that into multiple levels of delegated representation.

      11 votes
      1. [3]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        One good thing about it is that states can have different systems of choosing electors. There is currently little innovation, though. If the imbalance between states were fixed and they chose...

        One good thing about it is that states can have different systems of choosing electors. There is currently little innovation, though.

        If the imbalance between states were fixed and they chose electors differently, maybe it would work a bit better?

        1. [2]
          json
          Link Parent
          I'm not from the states and don't have a full grasp of US political system. However, what are the logical layers of your multi-tiered representative system? What are the roles of each different...

          I'm not from the states and don't have a full grasp of US political system. However, what are the logical layers of your multi-tiered representative system?

          What are the roles of each different tier?
          Should the difference tiers handle different types of political issues?

          1 vote
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            I imagine a lower layer that would be about having a direct connection to the voters. This would be someone you know from the same state and probably the same city who agrees with you politically....

            I imagine a lower layer that would be about having a direct connection to the voters. This would be someone you know from the same state and probably the same city who agrees with you politically. They host meetings, lead online discussions with voters, and send out newsletters. They would also choose a representative in Congress based on their voter's wishes, forward any voter concerns to them, and follow up. In some ways this might be similar role to what Congressional staff members do with constituent services, but also formally having the power to choose a different representative.

            The upper layer would be members of Congress who make laws.

    2. [15]
      vord
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I've had thoughts like this before, and here's a rough layout of my vision. It likely wouldn't work in the framework of our current system, but if we're gonna dream, why not dream big? Full blown,...

      I've had thoughts like this before, and here's a rough layout of my vision. It likely wouldn't work in the framework of our current system, but if we're gonna dream, why not dream big?

      Full blown, 100% direct democracy. Scrap anonymity entirely. People can then opt to let someone else cast votes on their behalf, thus an organic representative system can form. However, anybody can change their representative or override their vote at any time (maybe force representatives to vote at least 24 hours before individual voting window closes). This insures that representatives are actually voting in line with their constituents.

      This core could scale down as low as local town meetings (where only local residents have a vote that counts) but as high as international diplomacy (where all affected have a vote).

      Obviously this doesn't exactly work within the current framework of our system. Our culture would need to become vastly more egalitarian. Simple majority voting wouldn't work either..... would definitely need a system along the lines of 75% majority to pass laws and only 30% in favor to revoke.

      Hell, if you wanna make it real complicated: Every voter gets 1 vote, but they can split that vote across as many representatives as they want, potentially allowing differing weights for different levels (my neighbor Bob can represent me 100% in local, like 5 different people split my regional, and Bernie Sander has my full national vote).

      And yes, I do realize this is a logistical nightmare that is virtually impossible to implement in a secure manner that wouldn't be abused to hell in our current political climate.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        moocow1452
        Link Parent
        How do you keep an exceptionally popular pundit from monopolizing opinion value? God forbid Tucker Carlson gaining proportional power to his audience and affiliates. Hell, the Sad Puppies jammed...

        How do you keep an exceptionally popular pundit from monopolizing opinion value? God forbid Tucker Carlson gaining proportional power to his audience and affiliates. Hell, the Sad Puppies jammed up the Hugo Awards by block voting to the point they had to harden it against block voting, which is an issue at the scale of national politics.

        12 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          Agreed, this is definitely an issue. Hence why I stated this is not currently feasible. It's borderline utopian, but I do genuinely believe that humanity could one day get there, if we don't...

          Agreed, this is definitely an issue. Hence why I stated this is not currently feasible.

          It's borderline utopian, but I do genuinely believe that humanity could one day get there, if we don't destroy the earth or ourselves first.

          1 vote
      2. [8]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        I feel like the people voting on new laws should be doing it full time and hiring staff to do research, not frantically doing Google searches on referendums the night before the election like I...

        I feel like the people voting on new laws should be doing it full time and hiring staff to do research, not frantically doing Google searches on referendums the night before the election like I tend to do. This means there should be representatives. But maybe it would be nice if choosing a representative were a bit more like hiring a lawyer to represent you? (And maybe a few thousand friends.)

        9 votes
        1. [6]
          Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          Indeed, direct democracy sounds good in theory, and can work for small scale things that people can completely grasp in the span of a short conversation. However as soon as you start discussing...

          Indeed, direct democracy sounds good in theory, and can work for small scale things that people can completely grasp in the span of a short conversation.

          However as soon as you start discussing how to implement laws that affect large groups of people (not to mention larger time scales) the amount of information that is needed to understand the nuances of how it will impact everyone grows pretty staggering. Expecting even a minority of citizens to be adequately informed is not reasonable or realistic. Just like we hire specialists to work on our cars, houses, computers, etc we need specialized people to work on laws.

          Unfortunately the process of being elected generally results in people who are good at getting elected, not in making laws.

          4 votes
          1. Akir
            Link Parent
            This is so much bigger an issue than you are stating. Pretty much every major divisive issue in politics today are caused because most people who talk about it are either poorly informed or...

            This is so much bigger an issue than you are stating.

            Pretty much every major divisive issue in politics today are caused because most people who talk about it are either poorly informed or purposefully misleading. The vast majority of the most important people are poorly informed on the issue.

            Let's take a look at (US) Immigration as an example. I like this example because it's extremely divisive but it's still possible to sit down and talk about it without getting too emotional. The fact of the matter is that immigration is such a large topic that it's almost impossible to get a full grasp of the issue. In order to fully understand the issue of immigration, you have to understand the history of our current immigration policies, what kind of people are immigrating to your country, what those people are doing for your country, and how all of that is affecting the economy at a very fine level. When is the last time you've seen unbiased data about any one of those topics? The truth is that there are any number of middle-ground solutions that would fix the majority of problems that people have with immigration policies, but everyone's far too busy listening to extremists to work on any of those.

            4 votes
          2. [3]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            One obvious solution often proposed to that would be some form of digital meritocracy, but that, too, has its drawbacks and may likely result in the same scenario. Is it good that you'd worked a...

            Unfortunately the process of being elected generally results in people who are good at getting elected, not in making laws.

            One obvious solution often proposed to that would be some form of digital meritocracy, but that, too, has its drawbacks and may likely result in the same scenario.

            Is it good that you'd worked a hundred cases as a lawyer? How much does it matter that you lost half of them? Does that make you a better lawyer than the one who took two cases and won them both?

            "Well, more is better, right? And everyone makes mistakes, so... And two isn't that high a number of cases anyway".

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              vord
              Link Parent
              Being a good lawyer doesn't really matter on success rate. If someone only represents say repeat criminals, they might be a great lawyer and still have a very low success rate due to the nature of...

              Being a good lawyer doesn't really matter on success rate. If someone only represents say repeat criminals, they might be a great lawyer and still have a very low success rate due to the nature of who they are representing.

              Genuine meritocracy would be interesting but very hard to quantify.

              1 vote
              1. ThatFanficGuy
                Link Parent
                Exactly. It would either have to be guesswork or much too invasive for anyone's comfort.

                Exactly. It would either have to be guesswork or much too invasive for anyone's comfort.

          3. vord
            Link Parent
            Yea....but essentially that's the problem we have now too. People aren't adequately informed or are actively decieved by their representatives. And when your representative is picked, your stuck...

            Yea....but essentially that's the problem we have now too. People aren't adequately informed or are actively decieved by their representatives. And when your representative is picked, your stuck with that person for 2 or more years.

            Thus representatives have a bit incentive to overpromise, under deliver, and ignore their actual constituents in favor of those lining their pockets.

        2. vord
          Link Parent
          That's the beauty of what I laid out...you can opt in or out as much as you want. If you haven't time or inclination to get involved, find a good representative whose voting history you agree...

          That's the beauty of what I laid out...you can opt in or out as much as you want. If you haven't time or inclination to get involved, find a good representative whose voting history you agree with. If they change, you can drop them quickly. If you generally agree but disagree on an issue important to you, you can veto that representation.

          It eliminates the ability for politicians to bullshit promises than backstab their voters. Recalls can happen in an instant.

          Also, I'm generally in favor of writing law in such a way that lawyers don't need to exist. If it can't be acurrately interpreted in a sub 20 min read, maybe it should be simplified.

          Lawyers are great for interpreting and explaining laws. When lawyers write laws you get laws that only lawyers understand.

      3. [2]
        json
        Link Parent
        Anonymity is to prevent vote coercion. An attempt to protect against domestic violence or employers forcing their employees to vote a certain way.

        Anonymity is to prevent vote coercion. An attempt to protect against domestic violence or employers forcing their employees to vote a certain way.

        8 votes
        1. vord
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Oh yes, definitely agree. But anonymity has it's downsides... It allows for a level of dishonesty to others regarding where they stand. At least a completely transparent system would let you see...

          Oh yes, definitely agree. But anonymity has it's downsides... It allows for a level of dishonesty to others regarding where they stand.

          At least a completely transparent system would let you see the chain of asshat voting. Maybe we'd have less rascist, sexist, facist bullshit when the asshats can be called out on it.

          Totally get how that can backfire too.

          It's definitely a hard problem, with not a lot of great answers.

      4. [2]
        clone1
        Link Parent
        In this system wouldn't it make it incredibly easy to buy votes? Bloomberg could just pay people $100 per vote and win the election.

        In this system wouldn't it make it incredibly easy to buy votes? Bloomberg could just pay people $100 per vote and win the election.

        1 vote
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          There's no more elections in a traditional sense. Just a series of representatives and direct democracy in a constant state of flux. I totally realize this would be chaotic, and not really...

          There's no more elections in a traditional sense.

          Just a series of representatives and direct democracy in a constant state of flux.

          I totally realize this would be chaotic, and not really workable within our violence enforced heirarchies. It's more of a utopian vision for when we get closer to Star trek than Mad Max.

          2 votes
    3. [11]
      vorotato
      Link Parent
      The more layers of indirection you have, the less any elected official actually needs to represent the public to be elected. One layer sometimes is necessary and that already can have serious...

      The more layers of indirection you have, the less any elected official actually needs to represent the public to be elected. One layer sometimes is necessary and that already can have serious impacts to democracy.

      1 vote
      1. [10]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Well, that depends on what it means to "represent the public." How does that work, exactly? I've said it before, but I like how Edmund Morgan described it in Inventing the People. Summarizing,...

        Well, that depends on what it means to "represent the public." How does that work, exactly?

        I've said it before, but I like how Edmund Morgan described it in Inventing the People. Summarizing, "the People" is a term of art used to justify the rule of the many by the few. It's a myth like the divine right of kings, except that it's our myth.

        It's not actually possible for hundreds of millions of people to all get their way, because people do disagree. There is going to be some kind of averaging process (like voting or a market) and any mechanical process will sometimes have incoherent results, with illogical choices that no single person would prefer. Between the masses and what actually gets decided, it seems better to have some leaders in the loop, like we do with the courts, legislature, and executive branch. Hence the rule of the many by the few.

        I'm comfortable with having leaders who make collective decisions based on what they think is wise, but would like to improve the selection process. It would also be nice to feel better about being represented. But I'm not sure direct election is any better than indirect election, though it is traditional.

        1. [9]
          vorotato
          Link Parent
          Sorry to be more clear, the more layers of indirection you have, the less any elected official actually needs to represent the ideas of any voter. Not just "the public" but literally any single...

          Sorry to be more clear, the more layers of indirection you have, the less any elected official actually needs to represent the ideas of any voter. Not just "the public" but literally any single person within the public. They don't have to do what is wise, or good, they can just do whatever they find amusing and use the layers of power to insulate themselves against anyone who wishes to oppose them. Politics is all about building relationships, so if you have an onion of power it's very possible to create deeply entrenched unassailable positions of power, not unlike a king. While today's king might be nice, the next might decide anyone with fingers longer than 4 inches get the guillotine, because he just finds long fingers gross.

          1. [8]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            That sounds more like a problem with having arbitrary power, rather than a limited scope. Most judges aren't elected and that seems mostly okay?

            That sounds more like a problem with having arbitrary power, rather than a limited scope. Most judges aren't elected and that seems mostly okay?

            1. [7]
              vorotato
              Link Parent
              The onion of representation model you describe creates a context where unlimited power is inevitable. Judges by contrast have strictly limited power by design and a rigid social structure...

              The onion of representation model you describe creates a context where unlimited power is inevitable. Judges by contrast have strictly limited power by design and a rigid social structure reinforcing them. In abstract the ability for a judge to use his power to get more power will be managed by the separation of power and this has worked to a small extent. In practice we have seen this gone awry, such as a supreme court justice serving for both the confederate states and united states. A conflict of interest no matter how you feel about that bit of history...

              1. [6]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                I don't think I said anything about changing the power of the legislature at all? Congressional power is not unlimited. It's also much less when they are divided on what to do.

                I don't think I said anything about changing the power of the legislature at all? Congressional power is not unlimited. It's also much less when they are divided on what to do.

                1. [5]
                  vorotato
                  Link Parent
                  They are divided because their survival in office depends on it. They will cease to be divided when any division leads to being removed from office. I'm not trying to say you don't have good ideas...

                  They are divided because their survival in office depends on it. They will cease to be divided when any division leads to being removed from office. I'm not trying to say you don't have good ideas here, I just think this specific implementation would lead to the consolidation of power. I'm sure if you tweaked it or adjusted it you may have a good idea, however the idea as currently presented to me appears that it encourages complete and unwavering unity. Even if no individual in the group agrees with the thing they are unifying over. What that can create is a context where every person is unhappy with the group but also no person is unwilling to go against the group for fear of being removed from office.

                  In essence, bureaucracy is a political tool that is best used to impose on the policies and positions that you feel are harmful to society. The election of officials is not considered by most to be the harmful part of society, so I think bogging it down through many layers of indirection is not a wise move. There is sometimes a case where we do have to add friction to democratic processes to prevent the tyranny of the majority, but to add it to all democratic processes would likely create a tyranny of a powerful few.

                  1. [4]
                    skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    I'm not sure how you're getting to that conclusion from my proposal. Although it's often hard to predict what people will do, way I see it, the people who like leftist politics will support...

                    I'm not sure how you're getting to that conclusion from my proposal. Although it's often hard to predict what people will do, way I see it, the people who like leftist politics will support leftist electors who represent their views. They will collectively choose leftish representatives. Similar for the right. It might reduce polarization a little, but the point of this proposal isn't to eliminate polarization, it's to make people feel better about their representatives. I think the result would be more like proportional representation?

                    How do you think it encourages unity among legislators more than now?

                    1. [3]
                      vorotato
                      Link Parent
                      Fundamentally a politician represents the views that they think will get them elected, because the ones that don't, don't get elected. When elections are filtered through many layers of...

                      Fundamentally a politician represents the views that they think will get them elected, because the ones that don't, don't get elected. When elections are filtered through many layers of indirection, you end up in a scenario where the people below you might lose their position but you will always get reelected and this will only be more true as you move up the ladder of control. This is because the majority of votes in your system are by people who benefit from keeping the layer above them in power. Because the voters are also participants it creates a feedback loop. There would not be any "left and right" because there would only be service to the power structure, some might argue that it would be "far right" or "far left" but the definitions would begin to become meaningless. The problem with power structures with feedback patterns like this is that they tend to become detached from reality. They make decisions solely informed from other people within the bubble and they never seek information outside the bubble because anyone that does will be cut out. Reinforce the power, or be left behind. We see this to a limited extent everywhere, right, but I think your structure deeply amplifies this problem rather than minimizing it.

                      1. [2]
                        skybrian
                        Link Parent
                        I think I would need some examples of what you're talking about. But maybe better to stop here and agree to disagree.

                        I think I would need some examples of what you're talking about. But maybe better to stop here and agree to disagree.

                        1. vorotato
                          Link Parent
                          Yeah I think we're coming at this from two different angles, both of which are relevant. You're coming at this from a identitarian analysis, liberal vs conservative, and I'm coming at this from a...

                          Yeah I think we're coming at this from two different angles, both of which are relevant. You're coming at this from a identitarian analysis, liberal vs conservative, and I'm coming at this from a conflict analysis (what behaviors are rewarded/punished). Both definitely play a role and the disagreement is largely I think based on which socioeconomic theory holds more influence here. It seems reasonable that to think that the topic being debated may not be answerable. I enjoyed thinking it through and I appreciate you proposing an idea.

                          2 votes
    4. [5]
      insegnamante
      Link Parent
      I've thought something like this should be done. I'd base it around neighborhoods, thought. Everybody on the block or on the street or in a particular valley would choose one of their own to...

      I've thought something like this should be done. I'd base it around neighborhoods, thought. Everybody on the block or on the street or in a particular valley would choose one of their own to represent them. Those representatives could be grouped and pick another representative, and so on. I imagine that someone has come up with this as a form of voting or a form of government, but I don't know what it's called. Anybody know the name of it and who might have studied it?

      1. [4]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        That seems way too local for me, and subject to gerrymandering. I like the idea of being able to pick anyone in your state; that's local enough and you could pick someone in the same neighborhood...

        That seems way too local for me, and subject to gerrymandering. I like the idea of being able to pick anyone in your state; that's local enough and you could pick someone in the same neighborhood if you want.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          insegnamante
          Link Parent
          You don't allow the state leadership to pick the groupings, you let the locals do that. Apartment Building A is a voting block, Apartment Building B is a voting block, and Apartment Building C is...

          You don't allow the state leadership to pick the groupings, you let the locals do that. Apartment Building A is a voting block, Apartment Building B is a voting block, and Apartment Building C is a voting block, and so on through Apartment Building Z. Say they have 30 voters each. They elect one person to represent them. Then the reps get together and decide which other groups of reps are close to them, and they pick someone to represent them, maybe out of the set of reps, maybe out of the people that voted for them. And so on.

          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            In places that don't have convenient group-sized apartment buildings, how do the locals decide where to draw the lines? What if the locals disagree? Why shouldn't each person decide which group...

            In places that don't have convenient group-sized apartment buildings, how do the locals decide where to draw the lines? What if the locals disagree? Why shouldn't each person decide which group they want to join?

            1 vote
            1. insegnamante
              Link Parent
              Yeah, that's a good question. There would have to be a local authority to decide disputes. I guess the county judge could do that. That would probably be the most reasonable thing. Appeals would...

              Yeah, that's a good question. There would have to be a local authority to decide disputes. I guess the county judge could do that. That would probably be the most reasonable thing. Appeals would go through the regular court channels. Of course, that just throws a new burden on the court system which is already pretty loaded up. Guess we could get rid of some of the drug laws and free some of the court's time that way.

              As to why each person shouldn't decide which group they want to join, well, I don't have a ready argument for that. People don't decide which group they should join right now, except for changing residence. So that wouldn't change.

              3 votes
  2. Kuromantis
    Link
    An article about the benefits of a larger house of Representatives.

    An article about the benefits of a larger house of Representatives.

    1 vote