bioregionalists. They shared an impHcitrnfaith in the power of geologic and biologicalrnenvironments to overcome differencesrnof race, language, and religionrnand to shape meaningful communitiesrnof interest.rnNot too many decades had passed,rnthough, before partisan squabbling hadrnpartially subverted this vision. More recently,rntwo developments have completelyrnundermined it. First, membersrnof Congress have emerged primarily asrnombudsmen, officials who investigaternand resolve citizens’ complaints againstrnthe government. The complexity of federalrnregulation, tied to the munificencernof government checks, favors, and exemptions,rnhas turned “lawmakers” intornproblem-solvers and fairy godmothersrnfor the constituents back home, hideed,rnviewed cynically, members of Congressrnnow have a strong vested interest inrngovernment confusion and size, encouragingrnthem to create problems they canrnthen “solve.” Second, the concept ofrn”group rights” defined in terms of race,rnlanguage, or religion rather than area hasrngained considerable legal ground.rnWhile pretending to deny such distinctions,rnmodern American law is rapidivrnmoving toward a system of special privilegesrnbased on skin color and ancestry.rn”Race determination boards” arc alreadyrna feature here, and they will undoubtedlyrngrow in prominence, driven by eachrnnew civil rights statute. Moreover, thernSenate no longer serves as a meaningfulrnbrake on federal usurpation of thernauthority of the staves. Since 1913, staternlegislatures have had no linkage to thernsenators “serving” them, and these independentrnsenators blithely approve thernfederal mandates (such as Medicaid)rnthat are destroying the last shreds ofrnbudgetary and programmatic autonomyrnin the states. To top it all off, voters arernmad as hell, no longer believing thatrnthev are represented in Washington.rnIt’s time, I suggest, to acknowledgernthe failure of the existing scheme andrnto consider alternate strategies of federalrnrepresentation. I propose two constitutionalrnchanges that would empowerrnthe states relative to the federal government,rnstrengthen a positive regionalism,rnenhance accountability, eliminate thernincentive to greater government complexityrnand growth, and allow for a morernhonest expression of “group rights” andrnminority representation.rnFirst, repeal the 17th Amendment.rnI’his offspring of an earlier populist campaignrnwas misbegotten. Repeal of thisrnamendment would return the selectionrnof senators to the respective state legislatures.rnInstead of being vote hustlersrndependent on the distribution of federalrnlargesse to interest groups, senatorsrnwould again be the servants of theirrnstates. No longer would they get awayrnwith policy postures that damaged theirrnstates’ autonomy and interests. I alsornsuspect we would gain a better class ofrnsenators: “leading citizens,” rather thanrnthe expensive “media creations” of thernrecent past.rnSecond, elect members of the Housernof Representatives by proportional representation.rnOne-third (145) of thernseats should be selected on a nationwidernbasis. Two-thirds (290) should be distributedrnby population size into historicalrnelection districts (such as The GreatrnLakes, the Border States, the Old South,rnthe Northeast, the Plains States, thernNorthwest, the Southwest, and—ofrncourse—Southern California). Politicalrnparties would develop lists of candidates,rnheavil- governed by party loyalty, forrnelection to these seats. Citizens wouldrnthen east a single vote for a partv, notrnan individual. Any party winning fourrnpercent or more of the vote, either onrnthe national or on one or more of thern”regional” lists, would gain that percentagernof House seats from that pool.rnIf no single party succeeded in winning arnmajority of the House seats (and so gainrncontrol of the House speakership andrncommittee appointments), a coalitionrnof parties would need to form with thernpolitical deal openly cut.rnThe gains from these reforms wouldrnbe numerous. Authentic minorities inrnthe United States could organize theirrnown parties and elect their own people:rnthe African-American Party, for example,rnor the Hispanic Party of America.rnIf such ethnic voting blocs don’t reallyrnexist (as some observers suspect), theserncitizens would find representation inrnparties expressing their social class orrnmoral aspirations. Meaningful ideologicalrnminorities in America could also winrnreal power and an ongoing voice in thernaffairs of government. A Pat BuchananrnParty, for example, probably could havernwon 15 to 20 percent of congressionalrnseats in 1992 under such a scheme, possiblyrngiving its party leader the “balancernof power” in a reformed Congress.rnParty platforms would again becomernreal documents designed for action. Partyrndiscipline and accountability wouldrnboth enjoy resurgence. Politicians wouldrnhold a vested interest in simplifyingrngovernment. Congressional staffs couldrnbe sharply reduced. The number of partiesrnwould multiply, and the bureaucraticrnmonsters known as the RepublicanrnParty and the Democratic Party wouldrnreform or die.rnRegions of the nation, I predict,rnwould recover their distinctive identities.rnThe nation-at-large would enjoyrnreinvigorated state legislatures, a strongerrnand more responsible Congress, and arndramatic increase in voter participation.rnIndeed, we might just rediscoer whatrnit’s like to live in a real, functioningrndemocracy.rnAllan Carlson is president of’i’hernRockford Institute and publisher ofrnChronicles.rnThe Town Meetingrnbv George L. ClarkrnWhen America was closer to herrndemocratic roots, citizens heldrntown meetings to discuss problems andrnvote on policies. I was born too late tornparticipate in any of those meetings myself,rnbut the idea of getting togetherrnwith other concerned citizens to discussrnimportant issues has a nostalgic appealrnfor me. Consequently, I jumped at thernchance to attend a meeting of townspeoplernto discuss “what we would likernthe next President to do about the economy.”rnThe meeting was unforgettable,rnbut what I got out of it was not a list ofrnactions the President might take to rescuernthe economy, but rather insight intornwhy the economy is in need of rescuernin the first place.rnThe meeting began with a discussionrnof the symptoms of our sick economy—rnthe unemployed, the homeless, therntrade and budget deficits, decay of ourrninfrastructure, the number of people onrnwelfare, on Food Stamps, or without adequaternmedical care, the fact that youngrnpeople can’t afford to buv a house, evenrnwith two incomes, and so on. The peoplernspoke with great eloquence. Afterrnabout an hour, they moved on to theirrnideas of how to fix the problems.rnAt this point, the mood of the meetingrnchanged. The anger at the state ofrnthings turned into the excitement of arncrusade. Faces glowed and voices filledrnNOVEMBER 1992/47rnrnrn