To the republic...
If we can keep it.
“A republic, if you can keep it” Benjamin Franklin was referring to the susceptibility of republican government when he made this statement. The idea was that the United States was too large, and that power would naturally become concentrated among a small number of elites. Much of the federal convention was spent debating representation, they wanted to ensure that power was spread equally among the different factions of society. Of course, there were men among the debate fighting for their own interests, but they largely lost out when it came to the mechanisms of government. Those mechanisms have allowed future generations the ability to undo wrongs implemented by those men. One of the mechanisms that are most important in a functioning republic as large as ours is an adequately represented House. The House is the branch of power that reaches closest to a majority of the citizenry, ensuring they can shoulder some of the responsibility of power. This is how our republic works so Ben’s fears don’t come true.
“So small a number of representatives will be an unsafe depository of the public interests,” James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 55 for a reason. My guess is that if he were alive in 1929, the Permanent Apportionment act of 1929 (click to read more) would not have passed congress. The act put a permanent cap on the number of representatives for American citizens at 435. When the House was capped, the population was around 100 million, we are currently around 330 million today. Madison also wrote in Federalist No. 55 “that defective as the number will be in the first instance, it will be more and more disproportionate, by the increase of the people, and the obstacles which will prevent a correspondent increase of the representatives.”
Capping the House tipped the balance of our republic. As the population grew, the districts grew larger and larger. This has made it more difficult for our representatives to listen and inform the citizens, which has shaped a less informed voting base in the country. This means the citizens are carrying less of the responsibility of republican government, which gives the people they are voting for more power. Since the capping of the House, we have seen America’s competitive party system shrink into a two-party system. This makes the representatives dependent on the parties. Now instead of the people shouldering the responsibility of republican government, the party is. Since the party is carrying the responsibility, they also get the power. If a citizen is fed up with the powers not listening and wants to run for office, they will need to work with the party to get on the ballot. The party will not help them be heard, instead, they will recommend the citizen hire a consultant. The consultant wants a lot of money, and they make a lot of promises, but they really only deliver for the candidate willing to listen to them. They put the candidate in environments where the people say things, they want them to hear, and they tell the candidate to raise money. They shield the candidate from serious discussions, reminding me of this interaction from Hamilton between Aaron Burr and Alexander.
Burr: Talk less
Burr: Smile more
Burr: Don't let them know what you're against or what you're for
Hamilton: You can't be serious
It’s not that the consultants don’t let the candidates take positions, it’s that they keep the candidate focused on winning, and disagreeing with the base can make winning difficult. The phrase I hear a lot is “if you want to make change, you have to play the game.” However, if the candidate decides to play the game, they are also risking losing themselves. The idea that one man can change an environment is the antithesis to the system our founders created, which understood that “if Men were angels, no government would be necessary.” And a corrupt government environment would be difficult for a mere man or woman to change on their own. This isn’t to say that everyone in government is shaped and corrupted by the environment— I believe virtuous people enter with good intentions and some are shaped into believing this is the way it’s supposed to be, and others spend their time fighting the wrong battles until they get burnt out and quit. Think of it like capital and labor, the candidate is labor and the consultants are capital, they keep the candidate so busy fundraising that they don’t have time to spend with their own family, much less make the meaningful change we need. The consultant and party don’t even entertain that winning could be accomplished a different way, after all, there is no time, if we don’t win this election, the other side will destroy democracy.
The brilliance of our republican government is that it funnels responsibility and power both up and down, it acts as a communication mechanism for those without money to be heard. However, when the House was capped, our funnel shrank, and we became a two-party system, power was transferred out of the people’s hands, and the responsibility of governing has been ignored along with the people’s voice. The two-party system of power is dangerous because the arguments that get made are typically more radical, it becomes more about winning and less about governing. It becomes a battle of us or them, this or that, Democracy or Tyranny. In the dichotomy society, the two-party system creates, it’s hard to believe that something should be both. Remember we are not a pure democracy or a traditional republic, we are a blend of both, a Democratic-Republic.
A lot of people look at the two-party system and think the easiest solution is to have a third party, and they are right— kind of. Our republic requires a party system where competition can thrive, for that to happen we must enlarge the sphere of power and uncap the House. Once the House is uncapped, I propose that we enlarge the number of representatives from 435 to 870, doubling the representation and shrinking the representation ratio from 1:756k to 1:400k. The capped market of the current system ensures that if a new party wants to enter, they have to focus on fundraising to overcome the financial obstacles of getting the message out combined with getting on the ballot. The new enlarged arena will allow for new parties to enter the market and shape their own environment, allowing the new party to focus on issues rather than fundraising.
When congress capped the House they limited the people’s power and enlarged the power of those with wealth. The result is exactly what Ben was afraid of, a small group of elites ruling the mass of the people. In upcoming articles, we will detail how the elites running the parties and political PACs have manipulated other functions of our constitution for their gain and the people’s loss.
This isn’t a game, it’s a business… Sigh...
I’ve been stubborn about playing the game because I don’t know if I could survive on my own, after all, humans naturally couple (John Beatty) and group (Madisonian Republicans) so they can survive difficult environments. Now that we have built an environment where ideas can be discussed with civility, I believe it’s time to play the game.
I started a small business when I was 19 with my best friend from high school, the advice other business owners gave was vital to our success. They told us that there would be times in the beginning when we must be customer service, production, and human resources, and as long as we worked hard and were honest, we would survive. They were right. Small businesses must be both labor and capital.
Both. Democratic and Republican. Both.
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