Continuity and Change

The House of Representatives today differs considerably from its 18th-century predecessors. More members crowd into a larger chamber for more days in session, voting electronically. They work assisted by an army of staff, filling three large office buildings. Partisanship, which has replaced regional factionalism, has varied in intensity over time. And yet the House, which remains the body closest to the people, is the great success story of the government invented by the Founders. Elections held every two years for all its members encourage representatives to pay close attention to the voters. Of all the institutions created by the Constitution, the House stays true to its origins. “Here, sir, the people govern,” Alexander Hamilton accurately predicted of the House. “Here they act by their immediate representatives.”