I met a guy at the Netroots meetup in Second Life today, who had an interesting point about representative democracy. He gave me a link to this piece he wrote in the LA Times a few years ago:
There are currently 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In a country of 290 million people, that means that each congressional district has nearly 670,000 people. That is ludicrously large — and it is not the way the House was intended to work.
In the 1st Congress, the 65 House members each represented about 60,000 people. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, as states were added and subtracted, and the population grew, the House frequently resized itself. In 1913, the 63rd Congress jumped from 391 to 435 seats — and a district still only included about 200,000 people.
But that’s when it stopped.
Makes sense: direct democracy requires representatives that are connected to the their communities. Kind of like local politicians. 😉