Episode One: House of (mis)Representatives

Ever have that sinking feeling that your voice isn’t heard in Washington? It could be because it isn’t.




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Reader Comments (23)

Excellent first episode! But if anything, it underplays the problem. We have evolved a system that actually forces honest politicians (no smirking!) to behave corruptly by representing special interests in favor of their own constituents, and the system has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Utterback

Excellent first episode! But if anything, it underplays the problem. We have evolved a system that actually forces honest politicians (no smirking!) to behave corruptly by representing special interests in favor of their own constituents, and the system has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Utterback

Is there any way to download this (as opposed to streaming only)? Would love to listen to while on a run.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Great episode. It's invaluable information and I learnt a lot from it. Thank you!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHassan

Great first episode. Nice introduction and presentation of an intriguing issue in US politics. Also, I didn't realize Andrea Seabrook left NPR :(

Also, one question, what was that song at the end of the episode?

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Are you really advocating that there should be even bigger political class in DC supported by the constituents back home?

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertuska

Is there some way to download this?

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Excellent exposé of a very serious problem. I was always very confused about how Congress decided to just ignore the issue, even as the population of the country more than doubled.

Also, could you discuss the potential for alternative forms of voting? I'm a particular fan of the mixed-member proportional representation system used by Germany's Bundestag.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Let's have a serious discussion about the electoral college system of representation. In light of the Bush v. Gore decision, how can we still justify this antiquated process? But perhaps more importantly, what can we do to enact change on this (mis)representation of the vote and reconcile the ideal of one voice, one vote?

Thank you,

Reed, Atlanta, GA

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterReed

Nice job, Andrea!

If the number of representatives is fixed, then isn't the prime reason for conducting the census null and void? Wasn't it about apportionment of representatives?

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Glad to see this project is still on! Great job, it was worth the wait. Nice presentation of a problem in DC. Any ideas about a solution? Do you think that adding more representatives would be helpful? I feel it would just make a larger group of detached, rich, old, white men.

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrufreel

I think there are two things that have led to this problem that would prevent any change in the misrepresentation.

First is that the Enlightenment is no longer the leading philosophical thought. What I mean by this is that the values and way of thinking that led to the creation of the US Constitution is no longer the leading form of thought, although it still influences it. We seem to value tradition, history, and status quo more than change for the sake of representation.

Second feeds off the first, if we were to enlarge the House to let's say 6,000 they would require a college sized campus. I don't imagine the public or politicians would be too keen on creating a new US Capitol, even if it meant more representation.

I would argue that if we thought with the mindset of someone influenced by the Enlightenment, then we would consider moving the Capitol to Colorado, Nebraska, or Kansas so that it could better represent the country by geographic location and by providing the space to build enough space for 6,000 Representatives. However, with our current set of cultural thinking we would place a greater value on the cost required to do such an act than the value of greater representation.

Is one better than the other, I don't know - although I do have my opinion. I just think it is important to point out the difference in thinking and values and take it into account when discussing an important topic such as this.

Keep up the good work.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

An opening salvo with excellent production values -- certainly up to PBS's high standards.

The actual information presented contained little that I didn't already know. That in itself isn't a problem if I can skip past the 'ho hum' sections. As I read far faster than the pace of the spoken word, I would very much appreciate it if a written version of the text was made available for viewing/downloading in future episodes.

James R. Hannah

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTorus34

Great episode. Very thoughtful as all of your work. Something's broke!

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMoya Jones

Nice. I've reposted to:


September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Harrigan

Thanks Andrea! Great article. I appreciate the information. I will take this and use it to hopefully be a more informed citizen.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEliseRL

Mrs. Seabrook, your first episode feels watered down with shallow analysis of how each congressman manages to hold onto power based on how they vote. I thought decode was going to dig deep and deconstruct the voting patterns of a single or a group of congressmen. Instead you report what we already know by going an inch deep and a mile wide. Don't quit your day job Seabrook, oh wait.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHate

This is really terrific - longer form stories, comfortable pacing, from a real pro and insider. Well done! Don't sweat the blowhards: haters gonna hate.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchris

Wonderful first episode, and as others have said, great production value.

The number of representatives is, I admit, something I'd not thought of before. Thanks so much for the history lesson on this.

However, I entirely reject the initial idea that somehow our representatives must look, or be of the same social status as me. I vote for the person who best mirrors my values, not for the first white, middle class male computer programmer on the ticket. Are males in a district not properly represented by a female in Congress? If not, then the makeup of Congress is irrelevant.

My favorite example of this is that, in Brown v Board of Education, nine, old, rich, white guys voted for equal rights for, among others, all, young, poor, black girls. People don't have to be like you to properly represent you.

I have my own podcast that I plan on responding a little more, but this is basically the gist.

September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Payton

Andrea, great work and nice flow to this first podcast. But is this the kind of work you said you couldn't do on NPR? Why? There was nothing here that struck me as controversial, opinionated, or even daring. Just a nice, longer-format piece that mixed history with some current day analysis, along with a geeky twist at the end. If this is what you felt you couldn't do at NPR, then the problem is with NPR.

I'm looking forward to more honest analysis from you, to hearing how your experience on The Hill allows you to truly cut through the B-S. The real hard-hitting, fact-brandishing journalism you felt you couldn't do on the regular radio. C'mon... be brave.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterunderwhelmedfan

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