Article III. Conspicuous Misrepresentation

“”Under our democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule.  Both commonly succeed.” — H. L. Mencken

Evidence that the U.S. Congress misrepresents the interests of the American people is apparent everywhere.  Consider the following:

• Demographically, the current members of the US Congress do not come close to resembling the people who elect them.  Fewer than one in 100 Americans are millionaires; more than one in two congressmen are — one in three congressmen are millionaires many times over.  Fewer than one in 250 Americans are attorneys licensed to practice law; roughly one of every two congressmen are (over 100 times as many!).  More than 51% of the American public are women; fewer than 18% of the US Congress are.  Approximately 15% of the US population are hispanics; fewer than 4% of the US Congress are.  And, the age dissimilarity between Congress and the public calls out an institutional generation divide.  The median age of a congressman is about 60.  The median age of an American citizen is 37.

• The dissimilarity between members of the 111th Congress and their constituents is not an aberration.  The preceding 110 Congresses shared few demographic factors with their electorates.

• Members of the Congress share a great many more demographic factors with the “haves and have mores” (in the words of Silver-Spooner-in-Chief, G.W. Bush) of our nation than with common citizens.

• Typically, upwards of 50% of the U.S. electorate steers clear of polling booths during national elections.  The share of disaffected voters grows beyond 60% in off-year elections.  Voter turnout for local elections is more anemic, still.  Elections in which less than half of the public bothers to participate cannot be considered to produce winners that represent the public at large.

• A pluralistic election system, such as we have, does not require winners to receive a majority of votes cast.  Bill Clinton won the 1992 presidential election with 43% of the popular vote.  Voter turnout in 1992 was roughly 55%.  That means Clinton won the election with only 24% (0.43 x 0.55 = 0.24) of registered American voters having cast their ballot for him.  Since not all eligible voters are registered, the portion of the American electorate who cast a ballot for the winner of the 1992 U.S. presidential election was even less — somewhere midway between one in four and one in five!  It’s difficult to expect that any but a completely deluded electorate can feel that their interests are represented by a political system that systematically reflects the wishes of so few.

• As originally ratified, the U.S. Constitution based the number of representatives for each State on the “whole Number of free Persons” (a.k.a. propertied white men), and “three fifths of all other Persons” (a.k.a. slaves) that resided in each state.  Remember, it was the States that the founders were trying to unite; NOT the people.  Do not be confused.  It was the States that were to have direct representation; NOT We the People.  Technically, We the People are only considered to be part of the Preamble to the Constitution.  We have no constitutional guarantee to direct representation.  At best, we are to have representation through our States.

• Each State was originally apportioned one representative for each increment of 30,000 Persons counted in the manner described above.  Today, after correcting for the Founders’ failure to allow for women’s and minority voting rights, and after adjustments for population growth, there are 435 Congressional Districts.  This equates to roughly one congressman or congresswoman for every 700,000 men, women and children of all racial backgrounds.  No member of congress, or anyone else, can be expected to be fully acquainted with 700,000 constituents, let alone aware of their subtle differences in interests.  I have difficulty keeping track of the changing interests of individual members of my immediate family.  It is impossible for any individual to justly represent the interests of 700,000 of their fellow citizens.

Can it get any worse?  Stay tuned.


— iGregor


[Note:  Comments are invited at the conclusion of Article X.]

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 13:00  Comments Off on Article III. Conspicuous Misrepresentation