As we saw in an earlier posting, there’s a problem in the way the US Constitution interacts with the present demographic trends. In essence, as more folks moved into cities, all that matters is the vote of the cities. As The Senate was converted from a Republic oriented “House of Lords” analog into “Yet Another Peoples House” – but one with longer terms – the ability of the people to ‘vote for themselves the largess of the public purse’ now runs unchecked. (Vis the Debt Bubble…)
So how to fix it?
One “good idea” is to just roll back how the Senate is elected and make them back into creatures of the Several States again. That would work best if those states, like California, were to also roll back how THEY elect Senators back to how it was when the Counties appointed State Senators. But I know that just will not happen. Too many folks vested in the present system.
Is there another way?
Well, looking at the graphs in that prior posting, one thing that stands out is just how many Counties vote one way, but get squashed by the cities. How do we protect those rural “minority rights” against the maw of “urban jungle” voters?
Well, the idea I came up with is just a variation (or more accurately, a more detailed form of) an idea from Heinlein. Have a 3rd House of Congress who only has the power to remove things. In Heinlein’s view, they could only repeal laws. I think that’s too limited. They also ought to be able to remove spending and abolish whole departments.
So, what I’d do, is create a Tricameral government, with a House of Counts (a fun play on words between ‘bean counters’ and Counties ;-) who would be elected, one per county, from every county in the nation. They would have the power to line item veto any expenditure with a simple majority (hey, if more than 1/2 the counties don’t want it, it’s probably a bad idea) and to repeal any law or abolish whole departments with a 2/3 supermajority. (Just to put in some hysteresis in law making so you don’t end up with repeated 51% passing in the House / Senate and 51% repealing in the Counts.)
That’s the basics.
I’d leave it up to each County to decide how they would choose their Count, but would encourage them to be appointed by the County Government. (In order to keep that ‘vote of the public’ out of the ‘largess of the public purse’…)
I could also see some benefit to having a few more powers in the third house. Subpoena for example. But mostly I’d rather keep them out of the Political Game in D.C. In fact, I’d go so far as to assert they ought not even meet in D.C. That they could communicate and vote electronically from an office in each county seat.
By having them (largely) not elected, and closely tied to the local economies of their locations, they would be far more likely to veto things like a ‘road to nowhere’ and some “deal” that shoveled a few $Billion to Solyndra Friends Of Obama…
But just to nail down the “do not lobby” even more (as the cost of flying to every county in the nation to ‘lobby’ ought to discourage many…) I’d also suggest that for those places that DO choose their Count via a vote: Donations from unnatural persons (i.e. corporations) only be allowed from those corporations who have headquarters in that county. Basically, only county residents (citizens or corporate headquarters) can donate to a Count campaign. Subsidiary corporations can only contribute in the county of their parent. (i.e. only ONE entity, the top one, can fling money and only in their own county). Similarly NGOs, non-profits, et.al. That would keep costs and spending proportional to individual county size and keep big outside influence from buying Counts.
I’m sure there are more details that could be added, but I think that would cover most of it. It certainly ought to reduce the greed and corruption in DC politics, get the Big Money Interests out of a lot of it, and when they DO get some boondoggle bill passed, the Counts can go in and snip out the money…
All it would take is The Several States to decide they want it.
Then again, they haven’t cared enough to take back their Senators, nor to prune back their creation to stop forcing unfunded mandates on them, so I doubt they would do it.