But a lot has changed since then. The 1930 Census counted 122.8 million people in the United States — an average of 282,241 residents per congressional district. Now the nation has roughly 332.6 million people (the 2020 Census isn’t official yet) — an average of 764,597 per district.
All of this comes to mind with various stories about states redrawing the lines for congressional districts. In Washington, we will remain at 10 districts, which has been the number since one was added following the 2010 Census. This time around, Oregon gets to add a sixth district, having had more population growth than most states.
Here, a bipartisan commission chosen by legislative leaders will draw the new map. That is imperfect, but it is preferable to other states, where the Legislature decides. In other words, the majority party in most states gets to draw lines that help ensure it has a majority of congressional representatives.
But we didn’t come to talk about gerrymandering; we came to talk about the number of members in the House of Representatives, which was designed to be the federal body most in touch with the general populace. The House, after all, is supposed to be the chamber of origination for any tax measures, and its members face reelection every two years.
(We also didn’t come to talk about the U.S. Senate, which threatens to destroy our country. The Senate has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, but the Democrats represent 42 million more people, with the population of states represented by both parties split in half. Add in the facts that a minority party can block almost any legislation and that the Senate skews the Electoral College, and you have a formula for destroying representative democracy.)