A Proposal for Reform

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

Here’s my premise.

The proper role of government is to protect and ensure the welfare of the people.

A government is most likely to carry out the interests, and thus welfare, of the people if it reflects the will of the majority – that is to say, if it is democratic.

Our existing government reflects the interests of a rich oligarchy.  Its electoral process has been corrupted by the influence of money and has led to a dangerous level of income inequality.   Our government  protects and benefits the rich rather than the population at large.

Our government should therefore be reformed.

The following principles would ensure a public-interested democracy ;

Campaign finance reform.  Private money in elections should be strictly limited.  The precise mechanism is less important than the principle.  A reasonable approach would be to provide a set amount of public financing to the top four parties in the prior election and limit private donations to $200 per individual per candidate.  Corporate money should be prohibited.

Prohibit gerrymandering.  In this computer age, gerrymandering – the creation of safe electoral districts – is highly effective in removing accountability.  Accountability is the life blood of democracy.  Therefore independent commissions should oversee reapportionment of all electoral districts, using advanced computer algorithms to maximize competitiveness.

Prohibit regressive systems of taxation.  Government policies must not act to increase income inequality.

Guarantee universal health care.  The point of government is the welfare of the people.  What could be more central than protecting health?

Guarantee public education through four years of college or the equivalent.  Education is necessary to the welfare of both the individual and the society.

Restore the Fairness Doctrine for mainstream broadcasting.  Our system of government has been distorted by the twenty-four hour propaganda of media outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart which, for ideological purposes, spew a steady stream of false and malicious news.  An independent, nonpartisan, commission should review mainstream broadcasts.  Intentional broadcasting of political slurs without evidence – such as the Obama birthing movement – should lead to fines or loss of license.

Require adherence to environmental principles of sustainability.  Protection of the environment is a necessary precondition to protection of public welfare.

Adopt a parliamentary system of governance similar to those used in Western Europe.  The current American system has led to dangerous gridlock when control of Congress and the Executive have been split, while failing to provide useful checks on power when both are controlled by the same party.  Its weakness is especially visible at this moment when there is no effective system to limit the authoritarian practices of Mr. Trump, or to remove him without an impeachment requiring proof of crimes or misdemeanors.  Importantly, parliamentary systems allow removal of the executive by a vote of “no confidence”.  The term of any particular government without election should be limited, perhaps to four years, to ensure accountability to the public.

The Constitution should be amended as necessary.

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2 thoughts on “A Proposal for Reform

  1. Question about districts… why does it necessarily make sense to maximize competitiveness? I would think that districts should be determined by some criteria that reflects shared resources…

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    • Hi Liz. Competitiveness is a necessary criteria because representatives in safe districts are free to legislate with less regard to their obligation to their public. However, issues such as shared resources are also relevant, as are such matters as existing governmental boundaries. Moreover, because of social segregation by ethnicity, and the practical diversion of interest between residential areas, farmland, and industrial areas, there are clear practical limits to reapportioning just for competitiveness. The problem at the moment is that both parties support gerrymander for safety because they wish to protect their existing incumbents. More modern computer models have made that districting extremely effective, which leads to many districts where there is no opposition at all. Analogous to the old safe districts of England. Samething, in fact. This is a problem if you want a legislature that does anything besides protect the status quo. Which isn’t working very well at the moment.

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