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Fixing the US Congress, Ideas Thread

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by downtown, May 13, 2011.


I think the following ideas are good ones

  1. Repeal Citizens United to give less political power to unions and business

  2. Increase the size of the house

  3. remove redistricting power from statehouses

  4. find ways to depoliticize the office of Speaker more

  5. Institute a Merit-Pay system for Congress

  6. Elect a certain number of members "at large", or nationwide

  7. Institute term limits

  8. I have another idea, explained below

  9. I don't think there is anything wrong with Congress

  10. elect downtown, duh.

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Bill3000

    Bill3000 OOOH NOOOOOOO! Supporter

    Oct 31, 2005
    Well, it's the US, so the average citizen isn't unionized :p
  2. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

    Sep 16, 2005
    Tir ná Lia
    Then the average citizen should be, 'cause the way things are, it's only foolish to pretend that you can match the power of influential organisations/lobby groups without collective action and by somehow empowering the oh-so-representative legislature.
  3. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

    Feb 14, 2007
    Kael's head
    Take the power of redistricting away from state legislatures. Increase the size of the House of Representatives and keep the number of individuals represented in each district as even as possible. Ignore state boundaries entirely in making these districts if necessary.

    Ban any official government recognition or subsidies of political parties, including primary elections.

    Require all candidates seeking ballot access to submit one page essays describing their ideology, endorsements, qualifications for the position, and any other reasons they deserve the public support more than their opponents. Require that they accompany these with affidavits, so that they may be charged with perjury for any falsehoods included in these essays. Do not allow any candidate with a perjury conviction to run for any office. Make the essays public at least 2 weeks before the election in order to be publicly vetted, and include their full text on the ballots themselves. Voters should have this date in front of them when they make their final decision at the ballot box rather than needing to rely on name recognition which the major candidates

    Mandate the use of Range Voting for selecting all members of the house (and the president).

    Decrease the size of the senate and completely change how it operates. Rather than giving the citizens of each state 2 representatives here, make the entire senate represent the nation at large. Use Reweighted Range Voting (The non partisan proportional representation variant of range voting) to elect, say, 5 new members each election cycle. Five year terms seem good, which would keep the senate at the manageable size of 25. (I'm not dead set on the exact numbers or term durations, and would be fine with a 16 to 49 member senate as well.)

    Abolish the current system of seniority and party affiliation determining the each member's influence. Mandate the use of range voting among congresspersons to determine leadership positions and reweighted range voting to determine committee memberships.

    Allow a super majority of state legislatures to overturn any act of congress or executive order.

    Allow national initiatives with adequate super majorities to overturn acts of congress, the executive, and to call for the recall of any elected official or the firing of any appointed official. Require that these initiatives start with petitions from private citizens, not elected officials.

    Whenever the right of jury nullification is invoked, it should automatically cause the law to be placed on the ballot for the public to repeal. If the populace votes to keep said law, then the law would not be nullifies in that case either and the defendant would be ruled guilty (providing the jury found the defendant guilty on the merits of the case and only ruled not guilty because of a fault in the law.

    Change the oath of office so that it does not allow a politician to campaign for office until the completion of the term to which he or she was elected (even if he or she resigned before completing the term). Yes, I am including reelection campaigns in this. As this is essentially a term limit of one (although candidates could run again after a term out of office) and because I allow for initiatives to remove them from office, most terms should be made longer.

    Set the salary of congressmen based on the average income of their constituents (say, 2 to 4 times that, or maybe the median plus the mean). However, do not allow them to collect this salary in years when the national debt increases.
  4. carmen510

    carmen510 Deity

    Feb 22, 2006
    NESing Forums
    Aren't certain public sectors in trouble BECAUSE of empowered unionized workers, like teachers' unions for example?
  5. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

    Oct 14, 2001
    Chicago Sunroofing
    No, they are in trouble becuase legislators and governors would rather blame the unions than themselves for bad policy.
  6. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Jan 13, 2008
    US of A

    Not at all. These people are not paid particularly well. They are just east scapegoats.
  7. Miles Teg

    Miles Teg Nuclear Powered Mentat

    Oct 19, 2006
    One Flag Short of a Theme Park
    Local newspapers shutting their doors is actually a huge problem, and it looks like it's getting worse. The internet has given local newspapers competitors that they can't compete with. For the most part this is a good thing (competition leads to better, cheaper products), but there are a few areas that are suffering. Investigative reporting in state capitals is the big problem area.

    Anyways, local newspapers are dying, and the idea of citizens have personal ties with congressmen is long dead (and we can't bring it back without disenfranchisement). If you're going to change the system, plan for the future.

    I'm curious about why you think political parties are so horrible.

    Under what conditions could a legislator be charged with perjury? If he voted for a bill that someone judged to be antithetical to his platform? If he voted against something he thought he should vote for? Or would he have to be caught on tape saying that he just supported something so those stupid rubes would vote for him?

    Leaving aside the fact that you would essentially outlaw elected officials changing their minds, any legislation that discourages logrolling in Congress is just going to make everything worse, not better.

    Pointless. The country isn't bursting at the seams to vote for third party candidates, and gimmicky voting schemes aren't going to make them do so.

    Depending on whether or not this would actually change anything, it'd either be pointless or completely awful. In all likelihood, Democrats would just give the high possible rating to their candidate, the lowest possible to the Republican one, vice verse, and whoever has more representatives wins.

    If it actually changes something, then we have problems.

    Would require an amendment to the constitution. There's nothing that could pass a super-majority of state legislatures that couldn't pass through Congress, and state nullificationists should have rotten fruit thrown at them, not encouragement.

    First, wouldn't we have to decide that jury nullification is acceptable? Also, I think that violates the principle of double jeopardy.

    I didn't know you were that in love with the idea of unelected lobbyists running Washington. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

    I agree. We don't need any congressmen who can't afford to work for a year without compensation whenever the economy gets bad. Poor people (and middle class people) are stupid and ugly.
  8. Arwon


    Oct 5, 2006
    Just to add to that:

    Removal of the commissioner, as with other statutory authorities like the Statistician and the Reserve Bank governor, takes a joint sitting of both houses of parliament. Very difficult.

    When it recruits public servants, the AEC specifically asks about political affiliation. If you're a member of a party you're very unlikely to be selected. And even the CPSU (the union) members there are not allowed to tick the little box that counts their membership towards the Labor Party.

    So yeah, all you need is an apolitical public service and a clear set of rules laid down in legislation, in order to make an independent Electoral Commission work. You've already got the basic legislative template in the US through the Federal Reserve, the Bureau of Census or the Government Accountability Office.
  9. downtown

    downtown Crafternoon Delight

    Jun 11, 2004
    For what it's worth, these are mostly just ideas from the article (and two that pop up in other articles I read, not necessarily ones I like. For example, I'm really against term limits, for the same reason you are...it gives far more power to special interest groups and parties.

    Doesn't each state make their own anyway? Use a damn computer.

    You may be right about the power, rather than the politics. All of the textbooks I read (and this article) seem to imply that Gingrich took it down a pretty terrible road (and one continued, in all fairness, by Pelosi. The trappings of power are nice after all), but I don't really know how to roll that back.

    I like this idea. If you're going to filibuster, I'd make them at least actually read the phone book.

    Yeah, the idea of one guy being able to hold up a nomination is pretty bogus.

    No, you're right, it's too recent to blame everything on it. It does, however, completely flood elections with special interest money, something that most observers (and even the members of Congress I've personally spoken with about this) rave about as causing most of the problems.

    Sounds like a pretty terrible idea to me...nobody ever learns the mechanics of how to govern, everybody has an information gap, and we get lots of crappy bills. Also, the non-elected mechanisms of the govt become more powerful.

    I think you're right that a truly "non partisan" board is awfully hard to create, but when both sides get a chance to do it, the voters lose. That just means an equal number of completely uncompetitive congressional districts.

    Yeah, I did that because the article in the OP (which is good!) was about the house.
  10. Paul in Saudi

    Paul in Saudi Emperor

    Apr 20, 2008
    Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    The number of Representatives allotted to each state in the lower house shall be determined by the number of lawful votes cast for that house in the preceding election.

    That is, suppress the vote and lose seats.
  11. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

    Apr 11, 2010
    Wherever my name is posted
    Wow, you've put a lot of thought into this. I agree with a lot of it.

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