The Beginning of Democratic Reforms

Thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes can be modified, but they can also remain intransigent in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And we have seen the horror and ultimate failure of force to make a permanent change in thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes in the XXth century. I think one persuades people to change, who are willing to change, and that takes time… generational time.

I’d suggest much behavior at least is conditioned to the rules and incentives that pertain in a given society. For example, look at the variety of societies that stem from Britain as “mother country.” Are the day to day differences derived from divergent behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes, or derived from divergent electoral and governmental rules and incentives?

My point, made another way for example in regard to Congressional corruption: do we remake the people or the institution. I am skeptical that the kind of people drawn to and successful in congress as is, are reformable. But what if we changed how we selected our national legislature, and how they were held accountable: would that result in a different sort of person in the legislature?

Instead of an expectation of heroic legislators fighting against human nature and a system evolved to absorb individuality, instead why not create a system that can succeed while acknowledging human nature: outcome oriented rather than process oriented.

Toward this end I suggest:
1. Proportional representation by statewide popular vote.
2. Additionally each state gets two more representatives.
3. Expand the number of representatives, to a total of the combined number of state and federal legislators, staffers and lobbyists as a start.
4. These members constitute both their states legislatures and their state’s delegation to the U.S. legislature, which should become unicameral.
5. The state governors, major office holders in the state and federal government should come out of this pool of talent. All departments and personnel reportable and responsible to the Congress.
6. Public funding of elections. Good pay for those elected. And to reduce lobbying and attendant corruption, make it illegal to give a bribe, but legal to accept a bribe, as long as it is fully reported. This is designed to break the bond of trust between briber and bribed.
7. A secure and impartial electoral commission system, with parallel functionaries and observers. Voting to extended over a one week period, 24 a day at publicly maintained locations. Ad hoc sites and equipment should be reduced to a minimum.
8. Plenary authority moved to the national government
9. Clarification, transparency and reorganization of national and regional chains of authority and responsibility, with an emphasis on delivering service not denying eligibility.

We shouldn’t be surprised that people feel disenfranchised in a government in whose staffing they have only a partial and limited say. Perhaps people would vote in large numbers if they felt it mattered and there was an open polling place that didn’t require missing work, in other words don’t require a choice between the economic and the democratic aspects of life. The latter either requires a national holiday, a real one, where employers are penalized for each person who works that day or 24 hour seven day per week polling stations.

I suggest these changes as being more likely to produce coherence in government and more democratic than the current system which has devolved quite far from what was originally created, though the nomenclature remains the same.


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