[EM] Re: PR not representing median voter, and a system using best of PR and single seat.

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Thu Jul 24 11:19:04 PDT 2003

Clinton Mead said:
>>So, if your contention is that the more powerful House should be
>> elected from SMD, then in the US we would actually want the Senate
>> elected by SMD (which it is), not the House of Representatives.
>> However, virtually anywhere else in the world you'd probably want the
>> less powerful House elected from SMD.
> I don't see why? If anything the most powerful house should be elected
> by proportional representation.

I just misunderstood you.  I assumed that the Australian upper house was
like virtually every other "upper" house on earth:  less powerful.  So
when you said that the Australian Senate was elected by PR and opined that
it was a good thing, I assumed you thought the less powerful house should
be elected by PR.

But now that you tell me the Senate is essentially equal to the other
house, I think we agree:  Put more power in the proportionally elected

>>However, in the US Congress I see very little chance of ever electing
>> the Senate by PR in the US.  Changing the apportionment to elect the
>> Senate by nation-wide PR is impossible, and enlarging the Senate so
>> every state could elect a several member delegation by PR is incredibly
>> unlikely.
> Why not enlarge? We've done it a few times. We started with 6 per state,
>  went to 10, now we have 12. Surely you don't need 3 million people
> supporting each senator, 1 million is ample, considering we have around
> 250000 per senator.

First, changing the US Constitution is a difficult process (as it should
be).  I realize that Constitutional changes are supposed to be difficult,
but I get the sense that it's harder in the US than in most other
countries.  Even a very modest step toward PR in the Senate, each state
electing both of its Senators at once by a crude form of PR, would require
an amendment.

Second, there is a widespread belief that the US Constitution is
essentially perfect.  I don't share that belief--I think it's a very good
Constitution, but there's always room for improvement.  Persuading people
that the Senate should be enlarged to at least 250 members (5 per state,
the minimum for PR IMHO) would be a daunting task.

On the other hand, we could start electing the House of Representatives by
PR with ordinary legislation instead of a Constitutional amendment.  The
COnstitution leaves more leeway there.  It would still be difficult, but
not as difficult as amending the Constitution.


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