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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It'd be simpler to just (4+ / 0-)

    have the United States apply for Canadian citizenship.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 01:26:37 PM PST

  •  Whatever you are smoking must be good stuff. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Maybe Santa will bring you this tomorrow (0+ / 0-)

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot

    by paulitics on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 01:56:27 PM PST

    •  Maybe Santa make you less of an ass (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shypuffadder, wayoutinthestix

      By the way, I have studied the constitution.  Got the Poli Sci & JD to prove it.  Last I looked it could be amended. And if Citizens United is out of the way many of my suggestions could happen if people make it happen.

      Europe's democracies work because they have reasonably strong parties and dont rely on Plutocrats who have tones of money.

      The other suggestions are intended to get money out of the system.

      You got ideas put them out there.

  •  or we could run candidates in primaries (3+ / 0-)

    which we really should do all the time, anyway.

    None of this "oh, it will weaken our candidate in the general election! Just look at Blanche Lincoln!"

    If we want certain policies let's make sure we have candidates who believe in them, too.

    This should be standard for every position, from local representative to President.

  •  Origin of Senate & Congressional District (0+ / 0-)

    Senate

    Although the "Sectional Balance" of the Senate was of extreme importance to the maintenance of slavery from 1820-1860, slavery was only minor importance in the origin & creation of the Senate. Equal representation in the legislature was a remnant of the Congress under the Articles of Confederation and the resistance of states, especially those with a small population, to give up their sovereignty to a national government. Remember, the idea for a unicameral legislature based on population came from the state with the largest slave population in 1787, Virginia. Small states like Delaware and Connecticut favored equal representation for each state. They feared more the economic power of "large states" like New York, Virginia,& Pennsylvania more than loss of slaves (Delaware had a miniscule number of slaves at the time & Connecticut was free). As Madison points out in the Federalist, the bicameral approach with one body representing the states as a whole and one representing the people was a compromise to make a system that was simultaneously "national" and "federal." Numerous countries use a similar arrangement (Mexico for example) with no slavery ax to grind. If you have some references that maintain that slavery was a crucial element for equal representation in Congress during the Constitutional Convention, I would add it to my reading list.

    District Representation

    The current system for district representation in the House  has some flaws, but eliminating districts creates an interesting choice. If a state is allowed 10 representatives based on the last census, would you grant each voter one vote or ten? If you choose the latter, the positive effect will be that every US Rep from the state will have the support of a majority of voters. However, it also guarantees that one political party will have a low chance of being represented. A highly rural state will likely have no Dems & a highly urban state will likely have no Rs.  It is only a tendency, but the House will likely look like the Senate in the long run.  If you choose the former, get ready for a drastic alteration in US politics. Giving one vote to each voter when the top ten candidates will win office guarantees multiple parties will be viable. Within five years of enactment, this plan will lead to Libertarian and Green Party reps being elected. Within ten years there will probably be a few others as well. The Tea Party might become an actual party and not a faction of the Republicans. This could be very exciting but may make passage of legislation more difficult than it is now. May.

    I suggest a less drastic approach: the current system makes representation more localized, generally Reps actually live in their districts.  The problem is that races are no longer competitive because of gerrymandering through use of powerful voter demographic modeling. 1. Take the legislature out of the district drawing process and substitute a nonpartisan committee to draw the district maps. Some states already do this. 2. Mandate said commission to draw districts to encompass as many pre-existing governmental boundaries as is possible, county, city, township, etc.

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