By Stephen L. Hall
A recent online interaction alerted me to the concept that there actually exist people who do not fully understand the concept of representation in our democratically elected representative constitutional republic. I do not know how such people are permitted to exist in a society with a free public education system, but there you have it.
For a little background, that which was required learning over a hundred twenty years ago at a mere eighth grade level, taken from an eighth grade graduation examination, is a simple short essay question asking the little tykes to explain what was meant by the rallying cry for the American Revolution: “No taxation, without representation.” Further, they were also required to give and explain the English response to this statement.
If each and every high school student in the country could answer this question before public education even existed, a reasonable assumption as this was only an eighth grade level question, how much more should we expect of them now that the education is universal and free?
The answer to that simple question is that the Americans based their concept of representation on geography, asserting that the colonies did not have even a single representative in Parliament and thus Parliament could not be expected to be familiar with, much less be concerned about, the needs, interests, and desires of the colonists.
England being an island off the coast of an entirely different continent could not be expected to be familiar with the particular circumstance of the colonists and their needs. It was all great that England sent her armies to defend the colonies from the savages, the French, and the Spanish, but the colonies would bear the brunt of the violence of any indian attacks, in a sparsely population, rapidly developing wilderness compared to the established nations of Europe.
England, of course, responded as was their wont, that the colonies were already represented in Parliament because merchants, farmers, scholars, lawyers, doctors, and every other class of people in the nation were represented in Parliament. English merchants could represent the colonial merchants’ concerns, English farmers could represent the colonial farmers, and so forth; in other words every class of citizen was represented in Parliament, it was not necessary or even desirable that those representatives come from the colonies, what with the time, effort, an frankly hazard of travel at the time.
So a war was fought, a new nation established, and a basis for geographic representation by population and statehood instituted and enshrined in a constitution. The idea being that each state’s representation in the Senate gave voice to regional variation, and the House gave population differences, so that way large, populous states would not get overwhelmed by a lot of small states, and vise versa.
The nation quickly divided along another line, not merely geographical, but ideological, given the majoritarian nature of the elections into two parties. The two parties generally represent ideological rather than geographic differences, which tend to run more along an urban rural representative distinction.
Then, apparently, the intellectual capacity of the human species completely collapsed.
Someone introduced the notion of proportionate representation to an uneducated public.
If you are unfamiliar, the idea of proportionate representation is based on the fanciful notion that with identity politics, it is the quality of identity, not philosophy or geography which needs to be represented; rather than people from the same region having similar ideas and interests, it is people of the same ethnicity, gender, or some other similarity which becomes paramount.
Put simply, some many people of the Democrat side of the political spectrum seek to make their party out to be the party of diversity and division because they have more women and minorities as represented, and thus they pretend that they “represent” more women and minorities.
I do not know where this idiotic notion originated that in order for the human mind to understand the perspective of a group, that said mind can only have understanding through direct experience, but that is the basis of proportional representation.
I first really experienced that stupidity in law school, perhaps because for the first time my classmates were no longer mathematicians and engineers, where the phrase, “you don’t understand, because you haven’t
Discussing legal or political issues involving children? Not if you don’t have children! Discussing issues around marriage? Not if you are not married! Discussing legalities of “civil rights”? Not if you are not the minority in question! Discussing issues involving women? Not if you are a man! Identity politics had infested the law schools decades ago.
The notion of proportionate representation grew out of this stupidity. So, even though half of all Democrat representatives are not women, they bash Republicans for having fewer women than Democrats. But let’s take a closer look at exactly what that novel idea of proportionate representation would really mean.
The first problem would be defining your groups for representation, and let us round down the combined Congress of 535 member to only 500 to make the math easy. So any group under 0.2 % of the population will not be considered, as they would require less than a whole representative, e.g. transexusal. (Sorry Brianna-John, no congressional seat for you.)
Given that about 12.5 % of the population is black, we would have to have 62.5 black people elected to office; about 250 women elected to office; 10 homosexuals so Barney Frank’s job is secure; 8 Jewish representatives, so Bernie Sanders has a spot; and the list goes on and on, depending on how fine you want to break down the list.
But, look at the Supreme Court for a minute. There are mostly Catholics and Jews, but the nation is predominantly Protestant. Where is the proportionality there? The people who call for increased representation for any minority happily ignore over-representation of those same minorities. Okay, for the moment let us move on past the left’s blatant hypocrisy on the matter.
Dividing people by political party, they line up in about equal numbers; if the numbers get too out of line it forces the parties to change their platforms o get back in contention. If we were to further divide the electorate, with the proportionate representation, think of the individual voter.
In that district chosen to be one of the 2% population representative, and supposing the leftists were correct that a person could not really represent someone of a different gender/race/sexual proclivity/etcetera, then 98% of that district would not be represented by their elected representative.
You would literally have to have a separate national election for every identitarian subdivision of society, unless you could physically relocate like populations to live together in designated districts. That would go over so well.
Suppose the electorate actually wanted proportional representation along these lines, rather than just wanting something about which to cynically and perpetually complain that they know will never be fixed because it is not actually a problem. How could the identitarians go about achieving their dream, or rather out nightmare?
If all of the black people in the country got together, pulled their resources, and converged upon a few states, buying up the property, to make them a black only segregated states, they could take over six states completely. Nothing is stopping them from doing this now. The same is true for virtually every identity politics, except for the gender division between men and women as it would be difficult to socially divide households.
However, what would stop them from leveraging their concentration for even greater representation? Suppose, instead of six solidly black states, they went for ten majority black states. Then they would have even greater numbers than their population would secure. Because it is a majoritarian system, you will often have minorities under represented.
Some groups and constituencies will be over represented. Because they are the majority in numerous areas. Using the black population as a benchmark example, if they are evenly spread out, and people actually voted on race rather than ideology, then you would never see a single black representative.
I’ve heard people propose the idea of a political party just for black people, because the Democrats take them for granted. Without a form of congregation and segregation, it would be political suicide.
Proportional representation was known to be mathematically unworkable when it was suggested, so what was the purpose of suggesting it? The purpose was to sew discontent and outrage as a political tool.
Finally, to address the notion of proportionality with respect to women rather than minorities, because it is an entirely different issue and concept. Women are the majority, so the election of women is not, unlike the various minority identity constituencies, a mathematical challenge. There are other forces on display, not that those forces do not also affect minority voting, but it is less mathematically obvious.
There are social dynamics, differences in underlying personalities and even abilities of men and women which cause men to run for office and women to vote for them. The only thing stopping women from having 50% of the elected offices, is that society simply does not function the way liberals imagine it does.
In the end, it is ideas which are represented, and the human mind is capable of understanding perspectives not its own. What people want in a representative is sound judgement, reasoned and diligent positions, forceful arguments, not perspective. Too many people fall for the trap of divisive ideas, like proportionate representation, without a second thought.