Learn something new every day.
And have fun doing it.
Fewer of us than ever before are watching the news, but even still, you may have noticed we don’t have 11,141 representatives in Congress all fighting for microphone time while investigating each other.
I suppose we need to unpack that observation just a bit.
The Founder Plan
The original plan envisioned by our Founders was for each state to have at least one representative, but not more than one for every 30,000 people.
Back in 1789, there were only 65 members, but the House rapidly filled as the country’s population grew. By the turn of the 20th Century, things were getting out of control, and some rural areas were nervous about losing influence to more dense population centers.
If you’re math-inclined, you might notice that we have many more people these days than our number of representatives would indicate.
Let’s See, Carry the One…
At the time of this writing, there are about 334,233,854 people in the United States—and that doesn’t include the 173 Hollywood actors who have threatened to leave the country if their candidate doesn’t win the next election.
If there were one representative in Congress for each group of 30,000 Americans, we ought to have 11,141 Congressional Representatives wandering the Capitol halls and having expensive lunches on our tab.
Obviously, this is not at all feasible. To make things work, we’d have to start importing interns and press secretaries from China. We’d also have to house the House of Representatives at FedEx Field in Landover because the 58,000 seating capacity might just hold our 11,000 self-important buffoons, their pages, staff and cosmetologists. That’s a lot of people mobbing the NBC remote broadcast setup every day.
Talk about a Constitutional Crisis. Fortunately…
Problem Solved (Partially)
Fortunately for the Washington news desks of major television networks, some forward-thinking folks invented the Apportionment Act of 1911. This law permanently limited the number of representatives to 435, arguably about 432 too many, but certainly an improvement. Now, as states grow and population shifts, the number of Representatives for each state is determined proportionately by the census, subject to that 435 overall limit.
We’ve limited their numerical infestation; now, if we could only make them behave…