How to Repair Washington
The men who wrote the Constitution of the United States were hard-working, brilliant and brave. Our Constitution is a model for other countries who seek to establish a fair and just government that serves all the people. That is what the opening three words, "We the people" are meant to affirm. It contains a clever system of checks and balances which were intended to assure that our government exists for the sole purpose of serving ALL it's citizens.
Unfortunately, we now see that those good intentions have been perverted over the years. Most of our elected representatives and senators (more so one Party than the other) are in Washington to serve their benefactors, their Party and themselves. We the people come somewhat further down their priority lists.
All this can be fixed! Our government can once again serve all the people as our Founding Fathers intended. We just have to make a few repairs:
1. Term Limits. It will be much more difficult and costly for organizations like the NRA and ultra-rich families like the Koch brothers to buy our representatives, if those representatives can't serve indefinitely. The President's term is limited - why are our Senators and Representatives allowed to "serve" indefinitely? This is what leads to individuals having control of their niche areas, and the legislative backroom deals and bargaining that it fosters.
2. Campaign Funding Reform. The Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission in 2010 insured that We the People now means We the Corporations. Our Senators and Representatives votes can now be purchased by the highest bidder, with no controls. Our Justices (more so those appointed by one Party than the other) felt that buying yourself a Federal Representative is Freedom of Speech! We have to pass legislation that outlaws this travesty. Then we have to put inflation-adjusted caps on campaign spending.
3. End to Gerrymandering. This evil, done by both parties (but more so one than the other) must be ended and undone. State legislatures all over our Country have redrawn voting districts with ridiculous, nonsensical borders to ensure that their party's Representatives will be sent to Congress. The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves at this one. Even the Supreme Court has ruled that it violates voters' rights to free and equal elections. State legislators who vote to do this anyway should be imprisoned.
4. Single-Subject Rule. The act of adding riders or "wrecking amendments" to legislation must be made either unconstitutional, or at least illegal. The deviousness of this evil practice is something else the writers of our Constitution unfortunately never contemplated. It occurs when a provision that has NOTHING to do with a bill is added to the bill for one of two evil purposes: 1. get something unpopular made into law with no one noticing, or 2. force legislators to vote against a law they are in favor of because of the onerous provision. This happens all the time. Aren't you amazed that this could be allowed in our democracy?
Those are the biggies. Put those four in place and we'll be on our way to restoring our government to the people. But here are a few more suggestions that would also be a big help:
5. Limit Executive Orders. When Barack Obama became President of the United States, Mitch McConnell called a meeting of Republican Senators and told them that their goal over the next fours years was to get that uppity young black Yankee democrat out of the White House. His party did everything they could over the next eight years to prevent Obama from getting any legislation passed that would help our Country. Party first! So yes, Obama resorted to Executive Orders many times to put regulations in place to protect the people. But as we've seen, now that the Republicans are back in control, the current occupant of the White House is reversing most of them and putting his own in their place. I mean, why should coal mining companies be prevented from dumping their sludge in nearby streams, right? When we no longer have such a dysfunctional Congress, these orders, which result in instability, should be limited to smaller matters not requiring Federal legislation.
6. Publish Tax Returns. This is a no-brainer. Why should people who want to be elected to represent the people be able to hide their tax returns from the people? If there is anything in those returns that would keep them from being elected, they shouldn't be running for public office. So simple.
7. Establish a Three-Party System. I'm not advocating parliamentary rule. But the big problem with only two parties is that it does not foster legislative cooperation. It's easier to smear your opponents, buy more votes, and get a majority, than it is to compromise with the minority. We need a way to prevent any one party from having a majority in either house. Let's force them to actually talk to each other and compromise. All the "repairs" I've listed here could be the planks of the new party's platform.
8. Abolish the Electoral College? I don't really understand why the Founding Fathers thought this was necessary. I've read that they were afraid a clever demagogue could take over by tricking gullible citizens into voting for him. So these clever electors were inserted between the popular vote and the actual election result as a safeguard against that. And how's that working out for you? This is my only repair that is not an omission on the part of the Founding Fathers. I think they just blew it this time.
OK, that's how to fix everything.. Let's get to work!