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jca's avatar

Other than your choice of President, how would you change politics in America to be more efficient?

Asked by jca (27914 points ) July 21st, 2012

There have been a lot of political debates on Fluther and elsewhere lately. There is probably no perfect political system in the world, and United States is no different. If you could change the political system in the United States to be more efficient or more to your liking, how would you change it, other than your choice of President?

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45 Answers

janbb's avatar

Campaign finance reform for starters. Citizens United and the lobbies are ruining our democracy.

Cruiser's avatar

Bulldoze “K” Street and massive campaign reform. Eliminate powerful outside influences and politics returns to the people for the people.

janbb's avatar

@Cruiser We agree on something political!!! (Mwah!)

thorninmud's avatar

Diminish the role of money. Federal elected officials spend waaaay too much time campaigning and fundraising, and the need for money opens them up to corrupting influences.

I like the way France does it: All campaigns are publicly funded. All candidates have the same amount of money to work with, and have no need to waste time fundraising. They’re also limited to those funds. The government sends out a packet in the mail to all eligible voters with a one-page flyer prepared by each campaign putting forth the candidate’s position. The duration of the campaign is also limited by law. It lasts only a couple of months (as I recall).

So yes, the taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of the campaign, but the cost is extremely low compared to the US, and in return they get officials who are actually doing their jobs in stead of raising money 50% of the time. Plus the amount of campaign haranguing is mercifully limited.

Cruiser's avatar

@janbb That’s twice now in 3 years!! (Mwah) ;p

FluffyChicken's avatar

The whole system needs to go.
Decisions should be made based on a talking circle system in which any member of society may participate. There should be no one leader, but everyone should take both personal and social responsibility.
Money should be a thing of the past. The barter system is much better and goods and services would be traded based on their actual value to the individuals trading them.
Everyone who is able should be involved in apprehending evildoers, and solving disputes in a nonviolent way, thereby eliminating a need for police. An emphasis on personal social responsibility should be encouraged for/by all people.

This probably wouldn’t work on a large scale, but it is my personal little fantasy.

thorninmud's avatar

Oh, and for chrissakes, eliminate those damned anonymous holds in the Senate, and reform the filibuster so that it can’t be put on “autopilot” as is currently the case. We need the filibuster, but you should have to put some sweat into it.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t want “more efficient politics” in this country. I like political gridlock; whether the Founders expressly desired this or not, the system of checks and balances between legislative, executive and judicial branches, with the current ‘balance’ between the major parties (and the checks that they induce on each other), makes for very slow-moving government, which is the best kind.

give_seek's avatar

I am going to believe the first three words of the constitution: “We the People.” That means I see the US government every time I look in the mirror and every time I sit down with my family. I must believe that the US government is not “them over there.” Secondly, I’m going to act on what I believe by getting personally involved in my neighborhood, in my community, as well as local government. I will become the change I seek.

Mariah's avatar

Eliminate parties.

blueknight73's avatar

Campaign finance reform, and more importantly, term limits!

bookish1's avatar

How about term limits for Supreme Court justices also?

talljasperman's avatar

I would separate money from politics. Politicians would be all volunteer.

bookish1's avatar

oh, got another good one. Eliminate health insurance for all members of congress. To help with the deficit!

flutherother's avatar

Democracy in America is a little sick and as others have said the cure is to remove the influence of money on politics. There is a place for big business in society but it isn’t in government. Government should be for the people and by the people.

Nullo's avatar

I’d like to see less of a Big Brother attitude in all branches. And maybe another check on the Supreme Court.

funkdaddy's avatar

Great suggestions so far.

I think efficiency comes from simplicity. So most of my goals would be to try and simplify overly complex systems we all deal with and encourage participation by making the process of democracy easier. Participation is supposed to be what democracy is about and hopefully would make people feel like the decisions being made were their own (or at least their neighbors) rather than being forced on them by an establishment they don’t understand.

Some specifics.

> Create an application for all public offices, release the answers as public record and have them available at polling places (or online). If you want to run for office you have to answer clear questions regarding your positions, political history, past votes, and previous employment. Fact check them and release the findings. I get background checked when I apply for any sort of license or most jobs but have to wait for some sort of news expose to find out a presidential candidate’s work or voting history. Which is more important?

> Implement a flat tax with an exempt amount to keep it from being regressive. You pay x% on every dollar you earn over Y until the budget is balanced and part of the debt is paid. Once the debt is gone, everyone gets lower taxes. Yeah! I can’t think of a fairer, simpler system, and everyone would know exactly where they stand. If you don’t like this particular idea, that’s fine, let’s just start moving towards some sort of simplification that is acceptable. The current tax system is insane.

> Take advantage of technology to make voting simple. Make sure everyone has an opportunity and also make it so easy that we can get actually get voter turnout to mean something. What would voter turnout look like if I could vote online, by mail for a two week period, or show up on election day at a polling place? Include easy to digest candidate information so I can make an informed decision and suddenly people actually know who’s doing what. What would that be worth to a democracy?

ETpro's avatar

Public financing of elections for all national offices. No more Daddy Warbucks buying corporatist government regardless of which party is poised to win in any given election cycle.

mattbrowne's avatar

Let the popular vote determine who’s in the senate and house of rep. So if 8% of all people vote green, the green party gets 8% of the seats.

GracieT's avatar

@mattbrowne, intriguing idea. How would we chose WHICH 8% of the Green Party would win seats? A seperate election? Please tell more of how you would do this? I’m curious. :)

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne Isn’t that simply the parliamentary system?

mattbrowne's avatar

It is, @Nullo.

@GracieT – The way it works in Germany is this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_system_of_Germany#Voting_System

No separate election. So a Green candidate could go straight to the parliament if he or she has got the majority vote in the ‘county’. Otherwise it depends on the order of the party nomination.

GracieT's avatar

@mattbrowne, Thank you for that answer. Right now I’m at the RedCross volunteering, so I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I plan to when I have a moment free.

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne AFAIK we don’t use the parliamentary system because we are a federation of states – a structural thing. There’s an extra level that European countries are only now starting to play around with, that of the super-state.
The bicameral system currently in place was created as a compromise between the will of the people (the House of Representatives) and the will of the state governments (the Senate), which is why the Senators used to be appointed instead of elected.
So you might say that we have a Parliament already, if people would stop thinking about the States as mere administrative subdivisions.
I’m sure the past has its reasons, but the old view is so much more elegant.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Nullo – Yes, I understand. I just think more than just two parties would do the US some good…

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I completely agree. It would force parliamentary compromise.

GracieT's avatar

It would be good for the US to have more than two parties, but how would we fix the us vs them fighting even with three. People are people, and power corrupts. I don’t know if there is a way to get out of the mess, even if we have three parties unless we fix the mess of the electoral process.. I think that three parties is a step in the right direction, though.

ETpro's avatar

@GracieT The more parties you have, the harder it is for any one to win a permanent majority—which breeds ultimate corruption. Smaller minority parties have issues of their own, and any party, to get its initiatives implemented, has to build coalitions and to do that, has to compromise.

RopheO's avatar

As we have been gifted with the liberties and free expression we must endeavor to give the louder voice to each in turn. Learning what pains our peers is paramount and caring enough to find the ways to lessen the pain. Learning Love to be a primal core value will lead us home.

In a perfect world we would have state banking coops and our currency would be issued by the state or states with out the burden of debt. If currency is local then the value is made locally and work would have real respect. If we could learn to live without things we can not grow or produce the national health would be much better, we would not need more doctors and our life expectancy would be much longer.

GracieT's avatar

@RopheO, welcome to Fluther! You look like you’ll fit right in!

ETpro's avatar

Great answer, @RopheO. I join @GracieT in welcoming you to Fluther.

youarewrong's avatar

Take out political parties and don’t allow people who are extremely wealthy to run, as well as to bring the vote count back to a personal level.

GracieT's avatar

@youarewrong, welcome to fluther! Look out, it is very addicting, a good place to talk about issues. The fun stuff is just an added benefit.

ETpro's avatar

@youarewrong I join @GracieT in welcoming you to Fluther.

President George Washington warned us against allowing political parties to take hold. But the lust for political power is strong, and an organized party can consolidate control and thus deliver power on a grand scale. So it is easy to see why they came into existence despite Washington’s warning.

How would you go about abolishing political parties?

talljasperman's avatar

I would let each individual decide what party that they want representing for them… Instead of a group of voters picking a governor or president I could allow each person to either represent themselves in congress or to pick a leader that can be changed for a small fee… So we can one day have votes that don’t apply to some people and some more to each other…. I would make each party an independent part or the union with it’s own indepented free choices and political power laws and taxes… and for kicks I would let every person have the right to start a party with 1 member and the freedom to balance ones’ one budget and laws… that way everyone gets the slice of pizza they want instead of sharing half pizza’s with everyone….with toppings that one dislikes.

ETpro's avatar

@talljasperman Any ideas how to push the needed Constitutional Amendments to achieve that to fruition? You do realize what Party generated headwinds the effort would face, no?

talljasperman's avatar

@ETpro yes…. at a tipping point, such changes are possible.

janbb's avatar

@talljasperman Sorry, but I cannot see what you are proposing working in any way at all in anything but a society of one.

talljasperman's avatar

@janbb Maybe if everone lived in holodecks isolated from everyone else except to visit… or everyone has one’s own house to live in… and can ignore all rules.

ETpro's avatar

@talljasperman Oh, I missed the tilde at the end of your answer. Hum, maybe that’s because it wasn’t there. ~

Ron_C's avatar

The U.S. electoral system is broken. The supreme court allows unlimited and undocumented contributions to organizations that support candidates. Then the declare that corporations enjoy the same rights as people. To finish things off, the winners are allowed to adjust voting districts in their state. It is patently illegal but every state allows the majority party to guide political boundaries that favor their parties. Then to put icing on the cake, Republican states have initiated or installed law that limit who can vote and if that doesn’t work they limit polling places to insure long lines and inaccurate votes.

I believe that we are looking at the complete dismantling of our limited democracy and turning it into a oligarchy, similar to Russia’s

CWOTUS's avatar

The system is far more fundamentally broken than you suppose, @Ron_C. When stupid people who don’t understand simple arithmetic or the most basic elements of economics can simply vote for candidates who promise to “give them more” – and those candidates win elections and start to deliver on those promises – then we’re on a path to oblivion. The path that we’re on now, in fact.

janbb's avatar

@CWOTUS What do you think we should have less of?

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t know how to answer that, @janbb, because some of the alternatives are also pretty unpalatable. For example, I wouldn’t want someone to lose a vote simply because of unemployment, especially since it may only be temporary; that wouldn’t be a good system. (And disenfranchising someone because of long-term unemployment in a bad economy would add a level of apathy to many that certainly isn’t a good thing, either.)

I somewhat like the system that Robert A. Heinlein devised for some of his fiction: Only those who had served in some capacity in the military were enabled to vote. Everyone else had full “citizenship” status, but without having served they had not earned the right to vote. I realize that such a system would be very different from what the Founders had envisioned, but so is what we currently have.

janbb's avatar

Well – if you expand that to mean compulsory national service, I would favor that but not just the military per se.

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