Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Wilson Theory of Politics

Sheryl and I were talking the other night about the state of national politics and came to some conclusions about how the make-up of our government should be. We are right, of course, and any dissent will be squashed and dissenters detained.

Overall, we're pretty happy with democracy. We like the checks and balances that are offered in the Constitution and what we propose would hopefully enact them a bit better.
  • President - We're actually fairly happy with Presidential powers. Not as much with the President, but that seems to put us in a 2/3 majority. We wonder sometimes about Vice-Presidential powers and Karl Rove powers (mind control, we think), but we're ok with the powers the President has. Although I've got some issues with Presidential Signing Statements, basically the President writing notes on a law saying which parts he will enforce and which he won't. Here's an article on it by John Dean.

    The only major change is that once a week, the President MUST stand before Congress and answer questions about his policies, much like the British Prime Minister must do. One, it would have some great debates and make the President really explain his positions in non-structured settings. Two, it's insanely entertaining to watch. Seriously, watch archived ones here and read a bit about its history here.

  • Congress - OK, we've got some big changes here. Not in the powers, but in the structure.

    1) The majority in the Congress must of a different party than the President. Period. Having a rubber stamp Congress is pretty ridiculous to me and I think there needs to be more robust debate that a different party in the majority would offer, particularly in the newly proposed President's Questions.

    2) However, there do need to be some limits on this. First of all, the Congress cannot have enough in the opposing party for an automatic veto override, which is a two-thirds majority (290 in the house and 67 in the Senate). That's too easy. There needs to be substantive debate and compromise to be reached for such an action. So we propose that the oppositional majority in the House be limited to 250, requiring getting 40 members from the majority party to agree with the veto and 60 in the Senate, requiring 7 Senators from the majority to join the veto override.

    Oh, and no more gerrymandering. Have square shaped districts.

    Now in a perfect world, this would just happen naturally. In this theory, all of the candidates for congress will put their names in a hats, one for Democrats, one for Republicans, and then we'll have a very small hat for all those third party people. Depending on who's voted as President, we'll just choose the appropriate number of names out of the proper party hat, and maybe give two random seats to third parties. No Libertarians though. Those people are crazy. (j/k)

  • Supreme Court - Minor change here. President still gets to nominate whom he or she wants and that nomination still needs to be approved by the Senate (see how well the forced number works here?). However, the people with the same political leanings as the President is limited to a 5 to 4 majority. How will we make sure of this? Once every four years, we'll make them take the World's Smallest Political Quiz. That way the balance can be maintained.
I hope you all will see that this is a much better way to run the country. Naturally, there will have to be someone in charge of making sure this all works the way that it's supposed to. I say we let Jesus do that. But if he's not around in person, I guess I'll take the job. I mean, heck, even I could have 1/3 of the people supporting me.

6 comments:

Jennifer Thompson said...

When I got back from my semester in London I watched Tony Blair and Parliament on C-SPAN on several occasions. You're right - it's really entertaining. Perhaps I'll set the TiVo...

Jeff said...

I think you're on to something, Phil(and not to get picky - but I am an auditor at heart - we don't really even have a democracy where everyone votes to make the decisions, we have a republic form of government where the elected officials are the ones that make all the decisions). However, I've said that we should move to a constitutional monarchy like the UK. That way you'd have a prime minister and parliament to run the government, but have the king and/or queen in the background with more bloodline affiliation than political party affiliation.

I nominate you to be the king.

Justin said...

Why you gotta hate on the libertarians? I like them cause they aren't beholden to any groups. They are idea people... and they will never be elected because of it.

I have issue with your government being representative at all. If automatically the president's party gets fewer seats in congress, you no longer have representation of the people. The checks and balances are enough. If whoever controls the government at one time f's things up, people will vote in someone else, in the congress when the time comes and if the president sucks, they'll throw the bum out. The problem we have now is, the people took the lesser of two evils. And they'll probably go republican again this year, just because the democrats have absolutely no plan besides attacking everything Bush does.

This is why I think there should be as little government as is possible. Federal government should protect citizens from foreign threats, build roads, and.... well, write laws that protect individual rights, but don't infringe on individual rights.

A wise King would work... but we all know that absolute power can corrupt the best of men.... or women.

Phil said...

Jeff, I reluctantly accept the nomination. Please bring financial tributes to me... now.

Justin, much of the post was obviously tongue in cheek. Picking names out of a hat is patently unrepresentative. And like I said, the dream would be for it to happen naturally each time. Of course, people can be woefully uninformed when it comes to their elected officials and even willfully blind (see: Barry, Marion).

The saddest thing is that people DO have to vote the "lesser of two evils." In a dream world (or is that the first two seasons of the West Wing?), both parties would have an honest debate about the issues from their perspectives. 100% of the voters would watch the debates between two well-informed candidates. And then there would be debate among the citizens about the issues, who would then go out and vote, being well-versed and the issues and thinking out why they are voting the way they are.

Instead, we have handlers chosing the nominee based on Q rating and "electability." Debates that are more two people having separate conversations about whatever they really want to talk about. People who get elected with no more concern for the people who elected them than for a stray cat; in fact, more concern for getting re-elected (staying in power and the associated accoutrements) than for doing real governing. And those that really want to govern get burnt out from fighting the system. And the voters get cynical and uninterested. And the education system gets underfunded, so we have barely literate people deciding the people who will decide the policy issues, while Big Brother, American Idol, and sports/entertainment numb us to the problems of our brothers and sisters 10 miles away from us.

I try not to be cynical, but it's hard not to be.

DB Carden said...

One of the few things I miss about not having cable is watching Parliament on C-SPAN.

We have a tepid government system in order to not radically change unless everyone wants to change. It is the Weeble-Wobble of government forms. Or as my brother describes it in his reasoning for not voting for the LP, "we know this dog, and its fleas, we just occasionally elect the fleas from the other side of the dog. Why would I vote for fleas form a different dog that I don't know?"

Vote Libertarian, you'll feel better -- www.lp.org

Anonymous said...

Phil,
I is interesting that some of your commenters like others remark "I didn't vote because....", or "we need to be like...". These are my favorite lines because they bring to mind that these people have not studied their constitution.
It really bothers me to hear people state that they don't vote because...when I saw people line up and risk their lives to vote (Iraq).
If you don't like the political system, then go run for office and work at it.
We don't need to change the government, just the people in it.

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