Saturday, April 21, 2007

Blog Entry #5 - Congress

I found it interesting in my studies of the roles and powers of Congress that we place such little interest in who we elect to represent us in the Senate and perhaps even less interest in who represents us in the House of Representatives. Perhaps in this day and age when the President achieves near 100% name recognition in every home in the country and his name and face are constantly emblazoned on our TV screens, newspapers, magazines and websites that we feel a greater draw to participate in electing who represents us as President than we do to participating in electing who represents us in Congress.

It is therefore interesting to note the role and extent Congress plays in fashioning the policies that affect us as a nation. The framers of the Constitution had this role in mind. The first article of the Constitution outlines that all legislative power of the nation should be vested in Congress - not in the President.

The video clip we watched highlights an entertaining extreme of what would happen should Congress simply cease to exist, and they guy in the Post Office that couldn't care less about who is elected is perhaps increasingly representative of us as voters. It is only faced with the realization of what Congress actually does that we will ever feel the necessity to participate in voting them into office.

Should Congress reflect perfectly the demographic breakdown of our society? I do believe that on one extreme of having an all male, middle aged, white, protestant Congress is completely undemocratic and an unacceptable situation, I somewhat doubt to which extent we can have a comletely reflected chamber. Sure, we can make efforts to elect 50% of women, we can even make strides to elect representatively the numbers of ethnic minorities, but where does the demographic profiling cease? Do we make strides to elect on religion also, on age, on size of family, on income, on disabilities, on pastimes, on favorite colour? There are so many demographics and combination of demographics that our chamber will never be 100% representative. But I do accept there needs to be efforts to make it more representative than it currently is.

If I could change one aspect of the legislative branch of government I would change the way states are represented in the Senate. It is highly undemocratic to have 2 senators for each state regardless of population. For example, as we read on the Senate, a coalition of 41 senators from the 11 smallest popultion states, representing only 3% of the population can block any bill in the Senate. I believe changes should be made to the Senate to dissuade this form of undemocratic rule from succeeding.