First of all, let me set this straight right out of the doors: I don’t care whether you consider the US a democracy, a republic, a constitutional republic, a representative democracy, or whether it melts in your mouth or in your hands. I will actively ignore any such comments, though of course I can’t say that about anyone who may follow through with this.
So, with that out of the way…
I think that our form of government is not democratic enough. It seems to me in the past few elections (for legislative reps on most levels of government) that candidate platforms are appalingly vague, incredibly simplistic, or both (!). These people are working at least half the year on drafting, reading, modifying, and passing legislation which had little or nothing to do with what they were elected for.
I find this, almost exclusively, to be the fault of shoddy representation methods. There is no doubt in my mind that as things stand we should continue to have some form of representation and NOT go the way of direct democracy; however, that does not compel me to believe that we shouldn’t have a bit more accurate representation.
In the recent (and as of this time, still active) UN Debt thread I cited the UN’s own website to reveal in incredibly disparate opinion shift, in that the surveyed public felt one way (with up to 80% agreement) and yet our representatives thought that the public thought the exact opposite!
Another thought to consider are laws that have, in fact, raised some controversy: property confiscation laws, for example, when said property was used for drug related crimes. Although I admit I am not especially active in politics, one would imagine that such a controversal law would have made it on somebody’s platform. I recall hearing no such thing on party platforms.
Issues that do seem to come up during campaigning? Health care: ha, like that will ever be resolved within the next twenty years. Abortion: this only comes up in people’s comments about politicians, it seems the higher up in politics one is the less one cares to tackle big issues. Second amendment rights: it is time for politicians to take a stand on the second amendment and draw up the legislation to reword the thing more clearly. I love a semantic debate as much as the next guy (well, probably more than the next guy) but I’d prefer to keep them at a decidedly low level of importance, not when discussing the Bill of Rights.
In other words, whatever we call the government we exist in, we aren’t being represented very well at all. Do I blame this on the media for only following the more sensationalistic news? sorta. Do I blame this on the general public-- including myself!-- who is somewhat apathetic about political issues? Sorta.
Do I blame this on the way our system is currently implimented? You betcha. Do I have an idea about a solution? You betcha.
How to Increase Honest Representation into the Legislative Branch of the US, by erislover, Episkopos of the Anarchistic Lawn Fornication League.
I feel the first step is to require that those who run for an office in legislative branch of federal, state, or local government should, by and large, make known what legislation they intend to attempt to pass, or how they view an opponent’s legislation. They must have this as a formal document, made freely available over the internet and in other acceptable media (such as paper at the library, city hall, or other publicly accessable location). They must act on the written document in the following manner:
- If the politician has mentioned a specific stand on a topic or piece of currently debated legislation, they must act on that interest accordingly. This means that once a politician or potential politician has mentioned a specific interest in a topic, and they are elected, their interests are locked into place until such time as reelection occurs.
- Any legislation that needs to be drafted which does not appear as an active interest of any candidates (IOW, “something comes up”) must include its own death (hail eris, I can’t think of the term for that) such that if the legislation is passed it must have a time limit not exceeding the time it takes for candidates to be reelected. (IOW, something comes up and US senate decides to draft legislation which passes. In this legislation is a clause which kills the law in 6 years or less [sup][sub]since that is senator’s terms[/sub][/sup]).
- Any candidate running for office in a term which will have laws that “naturally” die must take a stand on whether they will attempt to make that law a “non-terminal” law (MAN what is the term for that?!) or will simply let it die as a temporary fix to a temporary problem.
IMO, we aren’t going to get better representation from our representatives. The media sure as hell isn’t going to provide it if it isn’t popular. But right now our politicians aren’t really bound by anything except a desire to get reelected, and since their platforms rarely involve all the bills they act on its hard to be especially two-faced. They can avoid taking a stand on an issue and then get into office and vote on it anyway.
Bullshit, I say, and its time something happened.