I think most of us can agree that the system is broken. One of the primary reasons as I see it is that Republicans fear for their jobs, at least when it comes to getting a primary challenge. However, due to the gerrymandered system that we have, they feel very safe in the general election. Democrats do not fear primary challenges, and for the same reason as Republicans, the gerrymander, don't have any fear in the general election.
What's the affect? Republicans do what their base demands, case in point, the House Speaker's Plan B went down in flames. Democrats on the other hand are willing to sell their base down the river, case in point, they are willing to put cuts to Social Security on the table. And both parties really don't care what the public as a whole wants, case in point, polls overwhelming say that people don't want cuts to the Big Three, and want taxes on the rich to go up.
Below the fold are some of my suggestions to fix this.
The overarching way to fix the problem is to get rid of Citizens United. The easiest way is for the Supreme Court to reverse the decision. All we need is for Scalia or Kennedy, or both to kick off. That will give Obama the chance to appoint Justices that will do this for us. The other way is a Constitutional Amendment.
Either way, the idea that political spending equals free speech has to be done away with, especially with respect to non-human entities like corporations. There need to be protections for individuals to participate in the process including donating to parties, organizing, etc, but it must be clear that Congress has the authority to regulate the process, including the spending on campaigns.
First, other Constitutional changes:
First, eliminate the Electoral College. Second, eliminate the Senate. Both of these are left overs from the slave era and the desire of the South to have an undue amount of influence over the nation.
Second, get rid of Congressional Districts. Delegations could still be by state to ensure that a state's particular bent can be represented. But that representation should be praportional, i.e. by the percentage of the votes each party gets. This would allow for representation by smaller parties in that most representational systems allow for seats based on a party getting a certain percent of the vote, i.e. 5% or higher. Those with less than 5% get no seats. We could add seats for states that have only one seat currently to give them more representation.
Now for the other restrictions:
First, meaningful restrictions on individual contributions.
Second, prohibitions on third party organizations like PACs and Super PACs. This includes those that are created by politicians which are only used to grease the palms of other politicians.
Third, restrict when a politician can create a campaign committee, or any other campaign organization, say to 120 days prior to the election.
Fourth, restrict a politician from fund raising until they are allowed to create their campaign organizations. They should be focused on their jobs, not on fund raising.
Fifth, no war chests. After an election, all politicians should be required to disgorge any money that is left over, possibly deposited into a fund for public financing of campaigns.
Sixth, yes, public financing of campaigns.
Seventh, prohibiting corporations and, yes unions, from contributing to parties or individuals.
Eighth, eliminate the primary system. The primary system has caused the whole process to become longer and longer, and has lead to politicians having to do more fund raising. People who want to be elected should rise up through the party system and be chosen through party conventions. We need to stop self-funders. Protections against party bosses taking over the process could be mandated by Congress which applies equally to all parties.
My hope is that these and other changes would increase the responsiveness of politicians. They would also help to allow for the creation of parties other than the Republicans and Democrats. I look forward to other suggestions of reforms that would make the process more democratic and responsive to the needs of the country.
Thank you for your consideration.