This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Effective representation

One of the guiding aspirations of American founders was that the government they instituted be “representative.” By this it is meant that those who make the laws are doing so as faithful representatives of the people, since it is the people who must live under the laws that are made. Now this is an understandable principle, but in practice things start to get complicated. In order to be “representative” it is not enough for a government to simply have representatives. A legislature may be filled with representatives and yet not represent the people in any meaningful way.

Thus, we should not simply demand representation, but should add that it must be effective representation. How is this achieved? First and foremost, by appropriate apportionment. Apportionment refers to the ratio of inhabitants to representatives. Turning once again to the ideas of the Founding Fathers, the Federalist Papers no. 55 and no. 56 explicitly promised, without qualification, that there would be one representative for every 30,000 Americans. The authors of the Federalist, at least, seemed to think that this ratio represented the maximum number of people one man could represent. Any larger, and the representative will become unable to represent his constituency and will either become disconnected from them or be forced to represent only a portion.

Right now this number stands closer to 700,000 inhabitants per representative. That’s twenty-three times the size of the ideal identified by the Founders.

If one measures “effective representation” as the amount of participative opportunity for the people in their government, we find that the United States, when compared to other first-world nations, comes in dead last, ranking behind Japan, Germany, Canada, France, the UK, and Finland. And we are not just behind. We are way behind.

This is a problem, obviously, and the solution is complicated. Since it would not really be feasible to up the number of representatives in order to bring down ratio, we immediately come up against the question of size. If our nation is so large that it cannot be effectively represented, then would it not be more appropriate to break it up?

Democracy becomes impossible beyond the size of a village. The larger the population governed, the less feasible the representative model becomes. America has long-since outgrown the governmental structures that were built for it when it was young. In order to retain the representative effectiveness that was originally intended under the Constitution, the union would have to be broken up, no just in two, but into quite a few pieces. The end result would probably look more like Europe, each state its own nation. Perhaps this is what needs to happen. Perhaps it might. Then, perhaps, voting might once again become an effective form of political participation.

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