Beyond principle, there are practical reasons to expand Congress. For decades, presidential candidates have promised to change the “way Washington works.” But once elected, they’re soon captured by their own congressional parties, which are in turn beholden to the “old bulls” and constituencies rooted in interests outside their districts.
A Congress of, say, 5,000 citizen-legislators would change that overnight. Would it cost more money? Yes. But today’s huge staffs could be cut, and perks and pork might even be curtailed by using the old chewing gum rule: If there’s not enough for everyone, nobody can have any.
Term-limit activists have the right idea — getting new blood in Washington — but their remedy is anti-democratic. The trick is to swamp Congress with new blood and new ideas. Want more minorities in Congress? Done. Want more libertarians? More socialists? More blue-collar workers? Done, done, done…
Critics of the status quo from the left and right yearn to shatter the two-party system’s lock on politics. I’m not convinced that would be a good thing, but wouldn’t the best way to do that be for smaller parties in Congress to champion fresh new ideas?