American Democracy


#101

We’ve been saying this for years, but I’m glad that it’s finally getting some real attention:

“The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.”

Let’s fix the Senate while we’re at it.


#102

I agree. How can we possibly pass an amendment though? The Senate won’t agree to fix itself. Nor will enough states.


#103

The Senate is a bigger issue, sure, but at least the House only needs a simply Congressional vote.

The Senate was set up basically because the little states were worried about the bigger states fucking them over, at a time when the ratio of small to big states, both in number and population, wasn’t quite as great as it is now. In concept, it was meant to keep things more or less on equal footing, but since then the number of small states has started to greatly surpass that of big states, hence the problems we have now of the little states fucking over the big states.

It also dates to a time when the individual states were far more autonomous than they are now as well. Back then, it didn’t matter what South Carolina wanted, as it pretty much would stay within its borders and not affect New York, for example. Now things are far more interdependent and much easier to fuck over other states.


#104

Yeah, I know. But the house still needs the senate to pass a law. No matter how you want to reduce the power of the small states, the current rules are such that the small states must agree to it.


#105

If we get the POTUS back and keep the house, we really only need 50 senators to make the changes necessary to push things in the right direction and set the stage for real reform.


#106

EDIT: And Rick Scott continues his shittery.


#107

One idea about the Senate I had was appoint extra Senators per Mega-municipality. Each city that has a million people by itself gets a Senate seat.

So NY would get 1, CA would get 3, TX would get 3, PA would get 1, AZ would get 1, and IL would get 1.

This would allow greater representation of the Cities and allow for more influence on Urban issues. Right now, we’re still skewed to the concept “More Land = More People” which isn’t really the case anymore.


#108

To make that fair, New York should get one for each Borough with over 1MM people. Four of the five boroughs are alone some of the largest cities in the US.


#109

This sentiment ensures that even if we could get over the insurmountable burden of papers and votes and government bureaucracy this would never happen. If all we needed was everyone on this forum to agree on what the actual bill looked like and we could bypass all the other steps we’d probably still fail.


#110

How can we take the unbalanced power away from the little states as long as we require their permission to do so? The only non-violent paths I can imagine are

  1. We convince their senators, and they decide to do what is right and fair. LOL!
  2. We spend enormous resources to move people around in the perfect configuration to win more senators.
  3. We engage in the kind of big long-term conspiracy that the right wing nutjobs make up all the time. For example, we could get people to put on an act and pretend to be right wing until they become senators. Then bam! They get to congress, we have 2/3, and we amend the constitution.
  4. Crimes. Actually hack the elections. Blackmail senators.

Anyone have a feasible and realistic idea?


#111

Each of the Boroughs is still a part of New York City, answerable to the Mayor of New York. if nothing else, it incentivizes having a larger city center, and higher residential density, but not create a city so large it becomes unsustainable.

With a body like the Senate, better to start small. Creating a system where NY gets 8 extra Senators is a non-starter because it help NY too much in relation to everyone else.


#112

A much better plan is just to have 100 equal-population Senate districts irrespective of state borders.

The idea that a state needs direct and equal representation of itself in the federal government is laughable in the modern era.


#113

OK, I somewhat like that.


#114

Hmm, that may not be a bad idea… I’m trying to work out if it would offer enough protection for the small states’ collective districts so that they don’t get fucked over by the big states’ collective districts, as I admit that is a valid concern that the folks in small states would have. I mean, we’re complaining about this because, living in big states for the most part, we’re upset over the small states fucking us over.

After all, other than “not being a dick,” what would keep someone representing NYC from fucking over Wyoming if it looks good to his/her constituents? A national legislative body should, after all, both have members represent their local districts and make sure to keep the well-being of the nation as a whole in mind.


#115

Because in 2018 when it pertains to the jurisdiction of the federal government, what’s good for NYC is also what’s good for Wyoming. Everything else is handled by the states. The exceptions are actually quite few.

Name a major federal policy issue where the thing we want is good for urban places, but bad for rural places? It has to be actually bad for them.

e.g.: Rural places vote against universal health care. The fact is that it will be better for them. Them voting against their own interest doesn’t change the fact that it’s good for anyone who is a person.


#116

Gun stuff? They probably hunt more or something.


#117

“That’s just coastal elitist talk!”

Okay, I get that in the case of health care, you’re right in that what NYC wants will probably also be good for rural places, provided they get the necessary support to pull it off.

The thing is, I don’t disagree that the top policy issues are probably good across the board – issues like universal health care of some form. It’s the smaller issues that complicate matters.

For example, what about farm subsidies? Farm subsidies probably have little to do with what goes on NYC, but are a big deal to rural places. A NYC-focused politician probably would not want NYC tax dollars being spent on farm subsidies unless you can make damned sure that it would benefit his/her constituents by lowering food prices or something along those lines (and even then, that may not be enough).

I’m sure that if we went down the federal budget and other legislation with enough detail, we’d find examples of things that are good for NYC but not good for rural areas and vice versa.

Now what might be a better tactic, and one that seems to be slowly working based on votes on Medicaid expansion in states such as Nebraska, is to somehow convince the people in those states on the things that are “universally good” that we can all agree upon.


#118

Regarding healthcare, for example, a lot of state ballot issues that actually make it to the electorate you will notice the constituency does vote in their own interest. It’s very often that they elect representatives that vote against their constituencies interests because the narrative the parties have played to regarding guns, abortions, and immigration become their only considerations. The same goes for ballot issues like drug legalization, election reform, etc. Same deal with the ACA vs Obamacare problem, republicans co-opting the popular bits of “pre-existing conditions” and saying things like, “Democrats want to take away your medicare” during the Trump rallies.

As for specific examples of things that should be different between urban and rural areas… I have to imagine a lot of rules about domain, zoning, certain taxation issues, building regs, etc. The closer you get to the land and the physical people, essentially, the more hands off federal legislation should be.


#119

No state should be able to set its own building regulations. Houses, commercial buildings, roads, factories: it’s ridiculous to have 50 standards.

Any exceptions within a state should be carved out at the federal level. It’s hard to imagine meaningfully different standards in one state versus another that aren’t driven primarily by cost-reduction.


#120

Subsidies are a metric fuckton of a problem across the board. Add on the externalized costs problems and we have a ton of industries that shouldn’t even be able to survive. The by the books reason for the subsidies is supposed to be for industries that we must maintain for strategic reasons. IE, pay to make sure we have manufacturing and food production in this country in case we get dragged into a real or trade war. But you can’t remove them because votes, and you can’t fix them because votes, and when they are tacked on to the tail end of a bill it’s always to put more money in a wealthy private sector pocket.