We can do better than the current system, which empowers today’s gang of distant plutocrats who fail to represent the people in the way the Founders Envisioned. And we can do it without changing the Constitution.
The men who wrote the Constitution put in place a system to ensure the political equality of every citizen. Though their ideas of who deserved to be a “citizen” are outdated, the basic principle of citizen equality never died. In fact, it grew and expanded, taking in more and more of the mosaic that makes up America. We have reached the point at which the vast majority of Americans believe that anyone over 18 is, by nature, equal in worth to his or her neighbor and ought to have an equal voice.
Based on this concept of equality among citizens, my legislator, Sam Johnson, is bound by the Constitution to work toward the interests of every citizen in his district. You may argue about whether residents here who haven’t yet attained citizenship deserve equal representation. But there is no argument if we honor the principle that made America’s government an inspiration to revolution around the world: we each deserve our Representative’s energies on our behalf. That means that Johnson should be an advocate for the health and happiness of every citizen who is his constituent, from the most suffering addict in the street to the pillar of the community. Remember, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”? Everyone is entitled, because these are unalienable rights.
If Congress is to serve the purpose set out for it, it must be populated with people willing to work for the good of everyone in their district, to the utmost of their abilities. Remember the reason we have these public servants: so they can be our voice in the halls of power, where we can’t go. At the moment, this is a herculean task. Each Representative faces the staggering task of attending to the interests of some 700,000 citizens. This is in direct contradiction to the wishes of the founders, reflected in the Constitution they wrote and ratified. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution says “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every Thirty Thousand…” Read that again, if you must, and think about the vast gap between representing 30,000 citizens and representing 600,000.
A representative can get to know her constituents well in a district of 30,000 citizens. And they can get to know her as well – and not just in the superficial media-and-newsletter image we develop of our current Representatives. In a district of 30,000, the Representative has a more genuine and personal stake in the lives of his neighbors. In bold yet simple and honest terms, the fact of the matter is that our current Congress, like each one since 1929, is operating in violation of the spirit of the Constitution. The Constitution is the foundation of American law, and it preserves for us certain rights–having Representatives who know us better than we could ever be known by the current gang of distant plutocrats in Washington DC is one of them. And since it is often only through our Representatives that our voices can be heard, being capably represented is arguably one of our most essential rights.