This was written by Kelsie and I appreciate him letting me use it.
I was recently accused of being “nothing but a bitcher/moaner–a blacklister of things wrong with America” while offering no solutions or ideas for reform.
These are laid out in response to that accusation: a few ideas that I feel would make the American democracy stronger and, shockingly, more democratic:
1. Abolish the electoral college.
The College is an antiquated institution unnecessary in an era of instantaneous mass communication. It bears no relation to the actual number of votes cast and distorts perceptions of the public will. The Constitution would be amended to alter relevant sections of Article II to allow for the direct election of the Chief Executive.
2. Reorient the Congressional power structure around the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives is, of the two chambers of Congress, the body closest to the people. Thus, hand over many of the powers delegated to the Senate through Article I to the House, where the will of the people is most evident and where the people can more readily exercise oversight in the appointment of, for example, members of the Supreme Court. The Senate would instead function as it was arguably originally intended: as a brake and deliberative assembly on legislation, rather than assuming the dictatorial role it has over the lawmaking process.
Will this politicise the lawmaking process? Yes–but arguably no more than it already is. The House of Representatives, with its higher proportion of minorities and women, also arguably better reflects the makeup of the country (although this is by no means an optimal reflection) than does the predominately white, male Senate.
Finally: vastly increase the membership of the House: cap the median district size at around 25,000-30,000 people.
3. Impose term limits on the Congress
End the era of the “safe seat,” of the Robert Byrds and Strom Thurmonds. Force regular change and turnover on the Congress: cap senators at two terms each (twelve years, longer than any two presidential elections); representatives at five terms (ten years).
4. Establish a mandatory retirement age on the Supreme Court.
For the same reasons as above: end the era of the appointment-until-senility. Require justices to vacate their office at age 70 or 75.
5. Remove the “natural-born” requirement for the Presidency.
6. Require all deployments of troops in other than declared federal emergencies to be subject to the Congress
End the Tonkin Gulf Resolution and its enduring spirit. Check the power of the executive by limiting his/her ability to deploy combatant troops overseas for any reason, at any time, without a vote of one or both houses of the Congress.
7. Smash K Street
Make illegal ALL donations of any amount or any kind from lobbying or special interest groups to any element of the political system. Force lobbying/special interest entities to engage their representatives on the same level as ordinary citizens. End special privileges for corporations or niche institutions.
8. Reform the process of elections and campaigning: break up the two-party system
A huge issue. Offer state and federal funding to a range of candidates (how they would be determined is a wholly separate can of worms), and require equal airtime via television and radio for third and fourth (and fifth and sixth) parties. Impose federal qualification standards nationwide, ending the ability of individual states to de jure limit the ballot for US Congressional elections to the two parties alone.