Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A good 8-point plan to fix politics (that will never happen)

The Daily Beast today outlined a pretty good 8-step plan to fix most of what ails American politics. (Of course, the special interests and party leaders would never let something like this happen). I would say that 5 of the 8 points are spot on, and 2 of them need only minor tweaks. Here is their nifty flowchart that describes the plan. In a nutshell, it consists of:

1. Independent redistricting.

2. A nationwide "clean elections" system. (My objection: This is probably unconstitutional. A better idea would be strict limits on campaign donations for all organizations, but no limits on donations from individuals).

3. Nonpartisan primaries: all candidates on the same ballot, top two advance.

4. More states committing to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

5. Fill vacancies in legislative committees randomly. (My suggestion: Require every committee to be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Committees should not be tools of partisan power).

6. Eliminate the provision where senators can anonymously place holds on bills. 

7. Force filibusters to happen via actual on-floor debates.

8. Eliminate the debt ceiling. (My objection: It would be a bad idea to eliminate the last line of defense against out-of-control, over-budget spending. A better idea would be to pass a balanced budget amendment that also mandates a significant tax increase whenever the U.S. gets involved in a war).


  1. Do you really want to weaken the small states so much with that move on the electoral vote? The founders wanted a representative republic not a majority take all democracy. We'd be dominated by only 10 states (top 10 by population = 53%). Why bother even campaigning in the others, we'd be ignored in more ways than one.

  2. I don't agree on open primaries. Our state is a sure thing for one party so that party simply votes in the open primary for whatever candidate they want to run against.

  3. The article used the words "open primaries," but that was a poor choice of words I guess. If you read their description, what they really mean is a nonpartisan blanket primary: all candidates on the same ballot, top two candidates advance.

  4. Well, from a voter's perspective it feels like it's already the case that only 10 states actually matter--the swing states. A vote in California or Alabama means almost nothing because those states are so solidly blue or red and all the electoral votes go to the winner.

    What if we kept the electoral vote system, but awarded each state's electoral votes proportionally based on percentage of votes won? That would introduce a lot of decimals, but so what.

  5. Mr. Goldstein,

    Do you mean to award the votes based on the vote inside that state. If so I agree. If instead you want to use the national average, which would be dominate by the top 10 to define the vote for an independent state like NH then I disagree.

  6. Yes, award electoral votes for each state based on the percentage of the vote inside that state.