Yesterday, out of boredom, I asked friends and neighbors on Facebook to name the three things they'd change about America's current political system if they had the power to enact any of their own ideas into law. I quickly found out my own three changes weren't exactly from my "A" game, and had to revise my own list.
Here were my original three changes, in no particular order:
Number 1: I'd do away with two term presidencies. I'd have a president elected to serve ONE six year term, after which he would be required to move his/her shit out of the White House and get on with painting watercolors of his feet in the bathtub, or building houses for Habitat for Humanity. This change would do two things: it would eliminate the endless fundraising and campaigning that takes up most of the last half of every president's first term in office, and it would encourage them to get off their asses and push for the changes they campaigned on in the first damn place. No more putting off the hard shit until the second term was ensured. You get six years, make the most of 'em.
Number 2: I would reverse the Citizen's United decision and get the dark money out of our political process. (more on that silly shit suggestion later, because this is the one that gets ousted by something even more important).
Number 3: I'd do away with the Electoral College and elect presidents strictly by a majority of the popular vote. Here's why that would fundamentally change things... Right now a person registered as a Democrat in Texas might as well flush his presidential ballot down a toilet. His state's delegates are going to the GOP's candidate, whether he votes or not. Why bother? If you're a Republican in Massachusetts, it's doubtful your vote will carry any weight at all in a national election, because your state is going Democratic. If we elected by popular vote, every person casting a ballot would know that their vote matters. No longer would elections be called hours before the polls close on the west coast. Those votes would matter, and the pundits would just have to put on more coffee and fucking wait, like the rest of us.
I thought I had put down some pretty good suggestions. Then someone pointed out that automatic voter registration for anyone over 18 would be handy, and I realized that idea would go a long way toward eliminating voter suppression tactics that are so popular in red states these days. The more I thought about it, the more I realized THAT idea was way better than my Citizen's United thing, because we're NEVER going to eliminate dark money from our political process, no matter what we do. Billionaires are going to buy the process like they always have, and like they certainly did before Citizen's United came along to make it all legal.
Someone else suggested term limits for all elected officials, but that's a bridge too far for me. The most effective legislators don't find their way around the Capitol for a few years, and I'm not sure we want an entire Congress of neophytes in D.C. trying to learn parliamentary procedure on the job. Of course, it couldn't possibly work any worse than our current Congress, so maybe it would help if they didn't know what they were doing.
Would it help things if election day was a national holiday?
Would you be in favor of a prohibition of statewide "wedge" issue referendums during presidential elections? (you know the ones, like referendums on gay marriage, legalized pot, open carry gun laws, abortion bans, prayer in schools... the things that are tossed onto the ballot solely to drive up the attendance of certain types of voters?)
How about it? For this little hypothetical, you're God and you get to fix this country's problems.
What would you do?