Why Proportional Representation in addition to Enlargement

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Why Proportional Representation in addition to Enlargement

Postby Epicurus » Mon Sep 22, 2014 3:45 pm

The Founders’ idea that the House should be an “exact portrait of the people” (John Adams) was imperfectly implemented. The only way they thought to implement the concept was by limiting the number of constituents per representative. They must have realized that opinions would be diverse even among 30,00 or 50,000 people. Did they really intend that the views of up to 49.9 percent of the people in a district not be represented in the House?

The Founders were products of tradition, as we all are. The single-member, winner-take-all district was part of the British tradition and unfortunately was given little if any critical thought in the 18th century. The unfairness of awarding 100 percent of the representation to a majority as small as 50.1 percent probably failed to occur to them. Consequently, they failed to consider that a multi-seat district formed with a slightly more complicated voting system (cumulative voting or its variants) would produce a House that better represents the diverse opinions in a geographical area and that much more closely reflects their desire for the House to be “an exact portrait of the people.”

If they had thought much about single-member districts, I think the unfairness of leaving large political minorities, such as Libertarians or Greens today, with no voice in Congress would have been anathema to them because they very much believed in the marketplace of ideas. They would want minority opinions represented because minority opinions sometimes become majority opinions later on. If they had been able to foresee today’s two-party monopoly, they would regard it as self-evident that a Republican cannot represent a Democrat and vice versa.
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