We use a three-part system to divide the people's access to Congress:
Then Congress' internal rules determine how power is managed.
To restore the public's political powers
the way we originally established them in the Constitution,
Section 3 repairs and restores imbalances
that have crept into our relationship with Congress
This means we have to understand several kinds of power balances.
The first balance to consider
is the balance between the two different kinds of power
members of the House and Senate have.
The Constitution's rules were designed to fit together.
Undermining a clause governing one factor of power
will always increase the power of another factor.
The first power-determining factor removed was population.
The House is supposed to grow with population
but is now 435 forever, even though the Constitution prohibits this.
It’s called “proportionate representation”, meaning the number of
Representatives still varies a little by population differences, but not
by very much because there are only so many Representatives. It’s also called “frozen apportionment."
This was supposed to keep large states from ganging up on small ones. This is a real problem.
State populations vary a lot more than they did in 1787, and the Constitution’s method does make it possible for larger states to join together in coalitions against smaller ones.
It's a problem. But there’s a better way to solve it. We'll get to that.
How Section 3 addresses it is discussed in the Frozen Apportionment subsection. Then why do we have to mention it here?
When population power within the House was virtually shut down, the House became free to use something else to determine its internal power balance. Remember, undermining one factor of power will always increase the power of another factor.
Each house of Congress may make their own rules governing the balance of internal power among members.
Two things now determine power within the House far more than population:
bargaining power and party.
Since then, bargaining power has affected the balance of power among districts the way it does among states. And because of the greater differences in wealth among districts compared to states, bargaining power is very unbalanced in the House.
And not just within the House. The power of population is no longer used much when the House and the Senate disagree.
This gives bargaining power the advantage in all three kinds of negotiations within Congress:
And because party was already dominating the electoral process (see Section 2), once it began to increase in power within the House, party’s been able to increase its power.
Now let's meet the gerrymander.
Image, Pixabay Public Domain 18043
Congress’ internal power balances are supposed to be checked and balanced by keeping the ratio of people per Representative equal and small. This gives Senators and Representatives different kinds of power, balancing two kinds of power against each other.
One kind of power is population. This is easy to see. The number of people determine the number of Representatives. And the number of voters determines the President, although the power this gives larger states is balanced somewhat by the Electoral College (see The Electoral College Question). Federal judges are appointed by the President, giving larger states more power, but confirmed by the Senate, which gives smaller states more power. Corporate interests also unbalance states' power in favor of states with our major trade cities. The Framers had to figure out how to prevent royalty from coming back, and royalty starts with power in international trade.
More bargaining power. States with smaller populations are more powerful in the Senate, not equally powerful as it appears. States with smaller populations need less money to function because they have to provide for the needs of fewer people. States’ need for infrastructure (roads, bridges, and so on) and the justice system increases with population. And businesses, schools, health care and so on require various kinds of government supports, and states’ need for them also increases with population. But each state has the same number of Senators, giving them equal votes regardless of population. This gives greater power to smaller states because their Senators have more freedom to negotiate. They need less money. The less you need to get from a negotiation, the more bargaining power you have to choose the terms. Within the Senate, smaller states have more bargaining power.
But districts’ bargaining powers also vary, often more than they do among states. To keep the House using population power instead, the ratio of people per Representative must be kept equal and small, making many more Representatives for larger states. Within the House, larger states have more voting power.
We can make power in government equal regardless of economic level or party.
Restoring the balance requires two steps:
First, make districts by economic level as well as geographic location. This removes party from districting, ending gerrymandering, gridlock and other problems.
Second, prohibit abridging any person’s access to government. This keeps districts with higher economic levels from having all the power, abridging access to government for people in other districts.
Give economic level a place,
then make that place unable to unbalance power.
This restores the balance we ratified in 1789.