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This topic contains 10 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Ken Martin 1 week, 5 days ago.

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  • #45322

    s.wilkes
    Keymaster

    Learning Objective: Explain the function of the legislative branch.

    Resources:
    1. Representation: Frequency of Elections for Congress
    2. Representation: Representation in the House & Senate
    3. Representation: Congressional Districts, Part 2
    4. Representation: Congressional Districts, Part 3
    5. Representation: Congressional Districts, Part 4

    Assignment:
    Choose 2 of the following questions and answer the questions:

      1. Why do you think it is important to stagger elections in the Senate?

      2. Do you agree or disagree that voters regularly vote out Representatives who they believe do not represent their district? Why?

      3. Is it fair that each state gets 2 Senators regardless of the state’s population? Why or why not?

      4. If the average size of a House of Representative’s district is 700,000 constituents, can the Congressman or Congresswoman effectively represent everyone in their district? Why or why not?

    #46250

    Natalie Parker
    Participant

    Why do you think it is important to stagger elections in the Senate?
    Staggering elections in the Senate allows for a continuation of key processes during elections. If all Senators were running for office at the same time, they would be beholden to the campaign schedule, rather than serving their constituents. In addition, institutional knowledge retention is vital on the Hill: even if many people are re-elected, it is important to maintain key committee chairmanships and staffing, which can be overhauled if Senators are not re-elected.

    Do you agree or disagree that voters regularly vote our representatives who they believe do not represent their district? Why or why not?
    I think the key word in this question is 鈥渂elieve鈥. I agree that voters regularly vote out representatives who they believe do not represent their districts, but I hold that voters often re-elect people who do not actually serve their interests. People who care and vote will continue to be engaged in civics, but it is those voters who are unengaged, disenfranchised, or who do not see any candidates on the ticket who represent them, who may decide not to vote out lacking incumbents.

    #46258

    Steve Spears
    Participant

    1. I do think it is important to stagger the Senate elections in order to avoid massive turnover in the legislature all at once, which could effectively bring Congress to a halt, hurting the stability of our government.

    4. While there are certainly challenges representing a large base of constituents I think it makes sense to cap the number of representatives because they need to be able to work together to get things done. We see how hard it is for them to work together now with 435, and increasing that number would likely make it even more difficult. In general, I think the structure of Congress makes sense.

    #46264

    Viviana Gonz谩lez
    Participant

    2. Do you agree or disagree that voters regularly vote out Representatives who they believe do not represent their district? Why?

    I think that voters believe they are voting out Representatives that are not representing them, but I don’t really think they know what the Representatives they vote in stand for. Many people vote for their preferred party, without taking into consideration how the particular Representatives they are voting for think about a particular issue that affects them. Making an informed decision takes time and I’m not sure that voters are taking the time to learn about who is the person on the ballot.

    3. Is it fair that each state gets 2 Senators regardless of the state鈥檚 population? Why or why not?

    Yes, if not the interests of the more populated states would thwart those of the states with less population. If we are to be represented equally, then this is an effective means of achieving that equality.

    #46301

    s.wilkes
    Keymaster

    For those of you who have visited with your Representative or Senator before, who do you feel has better represented you? In other words, does the person who represents your overall state represent you/your beliefs better/worse than the person who represents your more localized district?

    Do localized districts (Congressional districts) still matter in today鈥檚 more 鈥榗onnected鈥 world or is representation of the larger state just fine?

    (Loving the conversation!)

    #46307

    Michael Wile
    Participant

    Why do you think it is important to stagger elections in the Senate?

    I agree with Natalie and Steve that staggering elections in the Senate allows for a continuation of key processes during election years. After all, elections are the means to an end not the objective. Sometimes it feels like the elections have become the end game and not the the means to the end which is legislating.

    3. Is it fair that each state gets 2 Senators regardless of the state鈥檚 population? Why or why not?
    I agree with Vivian concerning the more populated states would thwart those of the states with less population; however, I disagree that “If we are to be represented equally, then this is an effective means of achieving that equality.”
    The concept of having Congress split between the House which is based on population and the Senate which gives every state an equal voice regardless of population originated at a time when the US population was still small and the differences between state populations was not so vast. Today, the country has states such as California that have nearly 100 times more people than states such as Wyoming, giving each vote in the smallest states much more power than any single vote in the more populated states. If the most populated states were still only five times greater or even 10 times greater in size than the smallest states, then it would still make sense to continue with a senate that offers equal representation of each state regardless of size. However, with the dramatic differences in state populations that we now experience, something should be done to give the largest states, such as California, Texas, and New York a little more voice.

    #46397

    Michelle Fernandez
    Participant

    i agree with Natalie, Steve and Michael on having staggered elections for Senators. i order to keep our government running we have to have people working ever year and not working on a campaign before the election year and then campaigning in the election year. focus would never be in actually serving. we would never get anything accomplished. We wold be out of session. On top of that, there is something to be said for experience and mentoring a freshman senator. i know when we have gone to visit our State Capitol its a different conversation. a different experience talking to a freshman senator than it is an established senator.

    i do believe that voters vote out representatives that don’t represent their district. That is their job. their purpose is to represent their constituents from their district. if they are not doing that we have lost our voice.

    Sonji – we have visited have visited our legislators at the local and federal level for health care issues. the question is hard because the local are easier to access and its easier to build a relationship with thru Advocacy Days, town hall meeting and social media. unfortunately they are on committees and if its not medical or ways & means its ends in a referral to someone who is on the committee that can help that your not a direct constituent of. So we just wait for our issue to make it to a vote in hopes that they will remember your ask at that time.
    where when your visiting a senator in DC they can hear you out and connect you with a staffer in their office that can talk directly to you on your issue.

    #46454

    Aidan Elliott
    Participant

    Is it fair that each state gets 2 Senators regardless of the state鈥檚 population? Why or why not?

    It is absolutely fair that each state gets two senators. It is the precise reason we have a Bi-cameral system with the House being represented based on population and the States being represented equally in the senate. What would be the incentive of Wyoming or North Dakota joining or staying in the union if they weren’t represented equally to California and New York at some federal level?

    4. If the average size of a House of Representative鈥檚 district is 700,000 constituents, can the Congressman or Congresswoman effectively represent everyone in their district? Why or why not?

    Obviously, it is impossible to represent 700,000 individual points of view at the same time. Because the majority of people are indifferent or ignorant to most issues, As an individual, it is important to make your point of view heard because you are the only one who can advocate for your point of view. If more people are vocal about their points of view, (hopefully) congresspeople will have a better understanding of how their constituents feel about a given issue and will act accordingly. I don’t know if expanding the volume or complexity of the house of representatives would make more voices heard or just make the whole process more cumbersome.

    #46470

    Krista Davidson
    Participant

    1. I think it is fair and smart that the framers staggered the elections for the house of representatives. Voters have a better chance of getting fair representation as opposed to someone who is their legislator for a longer period of time.

    3. I’m not sure that it is fair that each state has 2 Senators regardless of population considering states like California have an enormous population compared to smaller states. How is that fair representation? 36 million compared to 500,000? I’m not sure that the framers envisioned population sizes getting that massive

    My state senators have better represented my values and opinions better than my representatives have but I think both are equally important.

    #46638

    Ashley Castello
    Participant

    2. I think it really depends on where you live if you have the ability to vote out your representatives when you feel as though they don’t represent your interests. For example, I live in the deep South, in Louisiana, and I consider myself a liberal, which makes me a minority in my district. So try as I might, I am usually unsuccessful in trying to vote out the reps who I feel don’t really represent my interests. I need to make myself more familiar with my House Representatives, buy I know for sure that my two senators do not represent my interests at all.

    3. I do not think it is fair that all states get two senators despite their population. I agree with what Michael and Krista said about this issue. I believe this system was developed in a time where there was not so much population disparity between the states. It is a system that has not evolved with the growing and changing nation. I think it is the people that need fair representation, not each state, and that is why the states with higher population should have more representation.

    #46701

    Ken Martin
    Participant

    2. Do you agree or disagree that voters regularly vote out Representatives who they believe do not represent their district? Why?
    I think recently has the House seen a turnover rate that reflects the public mood and or want of change. Prior it was a place where, if elected, you went to live a comfortable life based upon name recognition and standard themes of… we like our person in the White or, hate yours. Districts are set up to get that party’s candidate re-elected over and over and not so much the actual

      person

    .

    3. Is it fair that each state gets 2 Senators regardless of the state鈥檚 population? Why or why not?
    It is completely fair that each state gets two senators. It levels the playing field and puts states on equal levels in the senate as far as influence, relevance and most importantly, representation.

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