Someday, I will go about writing down my actual personal anti-philosophy, why I think that taking politics seriously and trying to live a non-contradictory life is not only futile, but foolish and anti-human. But that will have to wait for when I’m in the mood to speak with sincerity. For now, you get this. This is a series of partially-baked ideas about how to make the United States a better country and to help it remain a single country. Fantasies about how to split the country into decent humans and filthy statists will happen in part II. Mainly though, this is here to give all of you Glibs that give me opinions a chance to share their half-baked opinions on how to improve the country (I know you all have them) without having go go through the arduous initiation ritual of becoming a Featured Contributor (seriously, get circumcised before you send your first article to firstname.lastname@example.org. SP’s rusty can lids aren’t nearly as sharp as she claims.) I suppose you foreigners can chime in too about how America sucks and your “all dressed” flavor totally isn’t just barbecue flavor.
People are the problem. As Douglas Adams wisely noted, anyone who wants power must be kept away from it. While that’s not completely possible, it should be more possible to ensure that power blocs are broken up and different factions with competing interests could be set up to keep each other in check. Basically, in order to keep the country from actually, legitimately going into civil war, we have to avoid a situation in which a significant chunk of the population becomes an unbreakably subservient caste to those in power. This is already happening e.g. NYC v. NYS but the right to move out of NY acts as a safety valve.
Idea 0: Federalism. it’s a thing. Do it.
Idea 1: End Sovereign Immunity. ‘Nuff said.
Idea 2: Crimes shall be limited to only those actions which deprive someone of life liberty or property via force or fraud.
Idea 3: End federal funding of private organizations. The major target here are the political parties. Political parties are not supposed to be parts of the U.S. government.
Idea 4: Keep the Electoral College.
Idea 5: While the 17th Amendment was a terrible idea, repealing it at this point would be even worse. The most likely scenario upon repeal (IMO) would be that each state would continue to directly elect their senators in the name of democracy, but it is also possible that the states could do something awful like set up senatorial districts.
Idea 6: Voting changes, as follows (mix and match):
Idea 6a – Instant runoff voting. Not as good as being able to legally kick in the teeth of anyone who says “you’re wasting your vote!” but it’s probably as good as we can get for now.
Idea 6b – Including a binding “none of the above” option. When included with 6a, this could make for some hie-larious results.
Idea 7: Aleatocracy. The Senate represents “The States,” the House represents “The People.” But as anyone who is even vaguely educated about sampling knows, electing from a pool of self-selected candidates can not ever be representative of the population. Therefore, members of the House of Representatives should be selected at random from the population*. The brilliance of this is that the house can never be “too” white, straight, Christian, whatever, but will always be representative of the population that it is supposed to… represent. We’d see the first ambidextrous Zoroastrian vegisexual furry in congress. There would be some guy who would vote “yes” by crushing a beer can on his head and “no” by farting. To make serving their term less onerous, we could give them a “secure” laptop (or maybe just a BlackBerry) so they could vote from home. Those who want the pomp can take their salaries and fly to DC.
Now, it’s great to not have an entrenched, self-perpetuated political caste, but how do you keep power from just shifting one step away? That is, if the legislature is changing at random, how do we keep laws from being made purely by lobbyists, or the civil service caste from becoming the only thing that matters? I don’t know, how does Texas do it? I’m not too concerned about lobbyists. Lobbying only works if the effort is worth the return. And without any long-term relationships being formable, it becomes much more expensive to lobby Representatives (though I would expect all that money to just slide over to the Senate). The permanent bureaucracy is more problematic, and I don’t really have an answer to that. Maybe bring back the spoils system? You guys can come up with one, I’m sure.
*Technically, you could make the claim that the pool that representatives are drawn from should be the entire country, not state-by-state. However, drawing by state will help break up power blocs and ensure that low-population states have any of their citizens represented at all