Demographically speaking, Congress is no longer a representative institution that it once was; the United States is not a republic but an empire.

Shrinking representative size of Congress | Expert opinion: Chalmers Johnson, UCSD | The extent of the ancient Polis

The evidence is unmistakable if you take a "long-view;" unless you are distracted by the immediacy of perpetual media coverage of trivialities and the mistaken notion of the country's alleged "exceptionalism."

Representative reform in the nation is over a century old, and since then we have destabilized over thirty nations.

Ethan Zuckerman at MIT writes:

"Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, a long-time advocate for expanding the size of Congress, points out that George Washington’s sole intervention during the constitutional convention was to argue for districts that included 30,000 citizens, not the more massive 40,000 proposed."

US Representatives

Congress hasn’t expanded the total number of districts since 1913, except to add seats for Alaska and Hawaii, and the average representative now speaks for 709,000 people. While it was possible – perhaps even likely – that voters had a personal relationship with their representatives, it’s much less likely now.

These facts challenge the logic of representative democracy, raising questions of whether representatives know the opinions of those they represent, and whether those represented trust their representatives to comprehend the needs of nearly three quarters of a million people.

The shift towards larger districts has been accompanied by a shift towards broadcast democracy, where representatives campaign via newspapers, radio and television, and where broadcast media in turn provides information to representatives about the preferences of their constituents. These broadcast channels amplify a limited number of voices to very large audiences, and with the rise of nationwide cable news networks, they likely have contributed to a shift in which politicians address voters nationally, not just the voters in their communities.

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The rise of an American Empire: the CIA is any President's private army; a Praetorian Guard.

Chalmers Johnson: former U. C. expert on East Asian Affairs, author of an "inadvertent trilogy" (1 through 3 below).

"English-speaking imperialists" "kept totally secret from the American pubic. . . "

1) Blowback: the costs and consequences of American Empire, (2000).

2) The Sorrows of Empire, (2003).

3) Nemesis,: The Last Days of the American Republic. (2008)


In America, we are not representative, in the ancient sense of responsibility to the electorate.

Dr. Johnson was "a former naval officer and consultant to the C.I.A., he now serves as professor emeritus of UC San Diego. As cofounder and president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, Mr. Johnson also continues to promote public education about Asia's role in the international community. In his works readers will "find out why the practice of empire building is, by no means, a thing of the past. As the United States continues to expand its military force around the globe, the consequences are being suffered by" nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

see: "On American Hegemony"

Consider Aristotle's discussion of the size of a polity.

"On the size of Aristotle's model polis, Nagle concludes: "I am inclined to think that the modal [sic, "model"?] poleis of, say, Stagira or Aphytis or any of those in the Chalcidice … or Asea in Arcadia, were close to Aristotle's idea of the Normalpolis" (p. 74).

In the conclusion, he sums up his findings: "Aristotle's ideal state would have had a territory of about 60 km2 with a population of 500 to 1000 households, that is, about 2% to 3% the size of Athens" (p. 312).

The average household in such a city would be about 12 hectares (30 acres). "It would supply sufficient wine, oil, grain, legumes, fruit, milk for daily living, and meat on occasion. It possessed a slave or two." (p. 75)

(One may wonder how this last point can be reconciled with the following line from Politics 7.4: "presumably, cities must have large numbers of slaves" [1326a18-19].)

D. BRENDAN NAGLE, The Household as the Foundation of Aristotle's Polis

bookD. Brendan Nagle, The Household as the Foundation of Aristotle's Polis, Cambridge University Press, 2006, 364pp., $80.00 (hbk), ISBN 0521849349.

Reviewed by Robert Mayhew, Seton Hall University

First let's consider the physical characteristics and dimensions of the Greek polis The single most striking feature of a Greek polis is its small size. It is easy to overlook this fact because classical Greek history is dominated by the polis of Athens and the polis of Sparta. Both of these places, and particularly Athens (which had a population in the fifth century BCE on the order of 350,000), were atypical in their population size and in their military power. The scholar R.J. Hopper refers to them as "abnormal states" (The Early Greeks, 156-187).

Plato considered the ideal polis to have a population of around 5,000 households, and Aristotle felt that in a polis each citizen should know the others by sight. In fact, only three poleis in the fifth century BCE had populations exceeding 20,000: Athens, and Syracuse and Acragas in Sicily (Kitto, The Greeks, 66). Politics, a word which incidentally derives from the Greek word polis, was of a face-to-face variety in these small communities.

Kitto describes life in the Greek polis as follows, "...the polis every Greek knew; there it was, complete, before his eyes. He could see the fields which gave it its sustenance did not, if the crops failed; he could see how agriculture, trade and industry dovetailed into one another; he knew the frontiers, where they were strong and where weak; if any malcontents were planning a coup, it was difficult for them to conceal the fact.

The entire life of the polis, and the relation between its parts, were much easier to grasp, because of the small scale of things.... Public affairs had an immediacy and a concreteness which they cannot possibly have for us" (The Greeks, 73).

Craige B. Champion, What Is A Polis?

Size of Congress | Expert opinion: Chalmers Johnson, UCSD | The extent of the ancient Polis