Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Amendments I Would Like To See In An Ideal World (But Probably Won't See in This One)

As we all know, the US Government is currently in a case of horrible gridlock. I have a specific commentary on this that I'll put up later, but for now here are 2 constitutional amendments I would love to see to help address issues with the current US governmental setup. Of course these are 99.999% pipe dream, given that I can't see any politicians even having the wherewithal to propose these, much less enough at both the national and state level voting for them.

28th Amendment:
  • Article the 1st: In the event that Congress shall fail to pass a budget before the expiry of a previous budget, the previous budget shall continue in force until a new budget has been ratified.
  • Article the 2nd: Congress shall pass no law causing, nor through inaction fail to pass any law preventing, the United States of America to fail to meet any debt incurred, public or private.
  • Article the 3rd: The executive shall have the authority to take needed steps in order to make payments on such dept irregardless of, or in spite of, any acts ratified to the contrary, including incurring new debt, not authorized by Congress but equivalently insured, only in such situation as it is necessary to ensure compliance with the 2nd article. This shall not be construed in any way as granting the executive the authority or ability to bypass the explicit budgetary powers of congress enumerated in the Article 1 of the constitution in any other instance.
Reasoning: This allows us to avoid the ENTIRETY of the issue we are having now. If you don't like the budget, you have to pass a new one, you can't just refuse and have the entire system shut down. Also ensures that the US will not default, securing our currency, while stating explicitly and unambiguously that while the president has the authority to borrow more to pay back debts (thus ensuring that the 14th Amendments is actually enforceable), he is not in any way shape or form allowed to go around congress in any other instance.

Why it will not happen: Congress is loath to give away any power, even in a very specific instance. The ability to induce a shutdown, being horribly abused currently, is a tool in the hands of the minority, and, just like the filibuster, one which even the majority will not want to surrender for their own use when they are again the minority. And of course in the current climate there is no way the republicans in congress or in the states would agree to anything that gives up their ability to block democratic priorities, no matter how much good it would do for the economy and governmental function.

29th Amendment:
  • Article the 1st: The election of federal officials to the Congress shall be performed via the Alternative Vote, defined in Article 4.
  • Article the 2nd: The election of the President of the United States of America shall be performed via direct popular vote, utilizing the Alternative Vote, defined in article 4.
  • Article the 3rd: District lines utilized in the election of Senators and Representatives shall be drawn by a neutral committee or method, prioritizing geographic simplicity and maintaining integral town, city, and neighborhood borders. Voting patterns and ethnic, sexual, or religious demographics may not influence the distribution of these districts in any way.
  • Article the 4th: The Alternative Vote shall function as follows - the people shall indicate an order of preference, from most preferred to least, among available candidates, with the option of refusing to vote for specific candidates. The first choices shall be tallied. If no candidate shall have the needed votes to win office, the candidate with the least votes shall be removed from the ballot, and votes which were indicated for this candidate shall be redistributed among the remaining candidates according to the next listed preference of those who voted for the removed candidate, with those who did not indicate further preference being discounted. This process shall continue until a candidate shall have sufficient votes to win office, in which case it shall be awarded to this candidate.
  • Article the 5th: The appointment of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America shall be for a period of no less than 15 years and no more than 30 years. If a Justice shall be more than than age 70 years and have served 15 years or more, their term shall end at the conclusion of the current court session. Justices who have served on the Supreme Court are barred from any further practice of Law or consultation in legal matters in the United States or its territories for the remainder of their natural life. Congress shall pass legislation providing for a suitable benefit for justices after the expiry of their term, such that this bar shall not be a hardship.
  • Article the 6th: No Senator having served 2 terms, or having served more than 2 years of a term to which another was elected and 1 elected term, shall be eligible for election to the Senate.
  • Article the 7th: No Representative, having served 5 terms, or having served more than 1 year of a term to which another was elected and 4 elected terms, shall be eligible for election to the House of Representatives.
  • Article the 8th: No individual above the age of 70 may be elected to the Presidency, Senate or House of Representatives.

Reasoning: Sensible term limits for all offices are a must. The revolving door of incumbency creates a massive corruption machine. The lifetime appointment of justices made sense when lifetimes were 30-40 years shorter than they are now, but have become a problem with increasing life spans. 15 years ensures justices outlast a president, but not that they do so by over a quarter of a century. Barring justices from practicing law after serving avoids conflicts of interest and influencing judges ("I wrote that opinion, here is what I meant" during an argument before a lower court judge by a former supreme). The alternative vote prevents spoilers, avoids issues like the 2000 election, and ensures that people can safely vote for third parities without wasting their vote. It also informs electees of what their constituents are really interested in. The age limits are to avoid stagnationary and health issues (reps who don't understand modern technology or social structures, "back to the good old days" legislating, inability to vote due to illnesses, unelected representatives serving terms due to deaths in office from old age).

Why it won't pass: Career politicians will never pass anything that prevents them from being continuously reelected until they die in office. When getting elected once virtually guarantees you reelection as long as there is no scandal (even now reelection rates stand at >80%), gathering the votes to end the gravy train is virtually impossible. The only reason we have presidential term limits is because the president couldn't veto it.

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