I think many of us didn’t realize until the past four years just how much of American politics is dependent on candidates and politicians following historical norms rather than anything that has been codified into law. What can/should to be changed to strengthen the separation of powers and the rule of law? A couple of ideas:
Require candidates to show their tax returns, with stiff penalties (like not putting them on the ballot) if they don’t
Put some teeth into the Hatch Act. What could we do to flat-out prevent the self-dealing from taking place?
In some ways, I don’t know how significant the whole “He won’t show us his tax returns!” really is. Partly it was just so infuriating because it was (as you say) a violation of a historical norm. Certainly Trump’s weird stubbornness about not releasing the damn things just makes you wonder what was in there?!? What terrible things would we have found out about him, that he wasn’t gleefully communicating to us all at his rallies or on Twitter?
Anyway, I did think about that one and had (and/or stole from someone I don’t now remember) An Idea about that. “Require candidates to show their tax returns” to run for President might have constitutional issues. Article II of the Constitution says
And that’s it. Nothing in there about “And has released to the Public n years of his income tax Returns, including all supporting Schedules”.
BUT I think there’s a workaround: The privacy of income tax returns is itself just a matter of federal law (not the constitution) and could be modified by Congress by the normal law-making process. So, just amend 26 U.S. Code § 6103 to say that the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall, by such-and-such point in the election cycle, publish and disclose the personal income tax returns (including all supporting schedules), [and with whatever redactions are normal and proper for this sort of thing] of any major party candidate for President of the United States [“major party candidate for President of the United States” as defined in wherever the heck that is defined in the U.S. Code, but I bet it’s in there somewhere], and including the tax returns of any corporations that are wholly controlled by that individual [get actual lawyers and accountants to write that part, natch], and so forth. In other words, it’s not something the candidate has to do; it’s just something that the IRS does on his or her behalf, once they have reached a certain point in the process of running for POTUS. Don’t like it? Don’t run for President!
A small step, but I think it would be worth doing.
The best way to improve the system is to make elected officials more accountable to voters. The two best ways to do that are, first, make it truly easy to vote. Elections should be held over many weeks, instead of a single day. There should be many accessible voting locations and unrestricted vote by mail. Registration should be immediate at any polling location. The standard to disqualify a voter or their vote should be very strict.
And, second, do not let elected officials or their parties choose their own constituents. The creation of districts should be non-partisan. The only data used should be the location of each constituent, not party, not gender, not race, not religion, etc.
End EVERY level of nepotism. No, your kid can’t be a Congressional page, your wifey can’t be your secretary and NONE of your relations can work in your administration. It’s been tried before but they just worked around it with, ‘I’ll hire your wife, you hire mine! Wink, wink!’ The answer is citizen oversight. Like jury duty. Yes, it ends a job perk for them, but it’s one they never deserved and have widely abused. End it.
Set hard fast rules for when a president can and cannot be obstructed from seating a justice. 3months till end of term sounds reasonable to me. Further, No One gets seated on the court that refused to answer ANY questions. Answer the questions asked, or see yourself out.
There should be citizen oversight on every sitting committee as well, with a web site to inform constituents, how many days a week did they meet? How many hours a session? How many paid committee members weren’t in attendance? (No show, no pay!) (No show three times, you’re excused!) What were expenses, like travel and food, for each committee member? Did it justify the number of days/weeks taken? I truly believe this kind over oversite could change the workings of government from ‘appearance of working on it’, to, ‘actually getting something accomplished’.
They need to come up with some creative ways to combat obstructionism too. That’s NOT governance, and it’s detrimental to people’s confidence in their democracy.
The GOP needs to add something like super delegates to their nomination process. I feel pretty strongly that the establishment did not want Trump winning the nomination (similar to the Democratic leadership not wanting Sanders). Trump could have potentially been stopped early on if he didn’t get any super delegates.
I completely agree with the overall concept but how does any of this work when half the population sees nothing wrong with the behaviour of the last four years.
Having said that, something I’ve thought about is that a presidential candidate (and this is all idealist fantasy-land) must have a doctorate in history so that he/she will have a nuanced understanding of the historical background of the world’s affairs. Or at the very least have to pass some sort of civics and history qualification test or something.
As long as we have an uninformed and misinformed electorate this can happen again. In 2016, Don the Con was ratings gold for the media and they gave him more advertising than he could every buy himself. Facebook happily allowed lies to permeate its platform as long as the clicks and the advertising dollars rolled in.
I think the solution is for corporate America to step up to the plate and turn off the money spigot for those candidates who cross the line. Fact checking on social media needs to be amped up by a factor of 10 and they need to ban ISPs for those who post gross falsehoods.
We need to reduce the amount of influence rural America has in our politics. The electoral college and the fact that each state gets two senators ensures that the least populated parts of the country wield far more power than their demographics deserve.
I raised this idea in another thread but it didn’t get any traction: Restrict the president’s pardoning powers so that all pardons and whatnot have to be issued before election day.
Draw the line at, say, Sept. 30. You think someone has been wrongly convicted (or has served more than enough time for their crime)? Go ahead and pardon them or commute their sentence, but do it in the full daylight of an election campaign, not in the dim last hours of your term, so voters can take it into consideration.
Would it require a constitutional amendment, or could it be done through standard legislation?
No solution will be perfect but I think recent history shows that super delegates are a way for the party establishment to keep the candidates aligned with their goals. I’m certainly no expert but when I think about the Democratic candidates since super delegates were created that they’ve all been reasonable.
May I use Party X to avoid any direct partisanship.
If Party X allows its bigwigs to disrupt the democratic nomination of its Presidential candidate then thats a retrogressive move that hearkens back to the smoke-filled rooms of the 19th and early 20th centuries and services the interests of the party machinery than the voters. It took a one chance in a million scenario to get Trump elected. Lets not gut the progress that we have achieved during the last 50 years because of him.
I think the party leadership should have some influence. Super delegates cannot override a candidate with large support but they can help steer the nomination to one candidate over another.
I totally disagree with your (non) emphasis on Trump. We absolutely should consider ways to prevent future nominees who are like him. We want to be careful that we don’t go too far but super delegates don’t, IMO.
IMHO, the single most important thing would be to curb the spread of truly delusional misinformation. Qanon has majority acceptance among Republicans. That’s not okay.
I don’t know how to do this specifically. But my truly intelligent father-in-law has exactly the same views as an utterly uneducated, ignorant, asshole with an IQ of 85. RW media can turn brilliant minds into low-grade morons. It needs to be fixed. Yeah, I get that the First Amendment is a thing. But within its bounds, something surely can be done to weaken the hold RW media has on people.
Turn Republican voters into sane human beings, and many of the problems will be much easier to fix, and they will be less likely to elect an incompetent clownfart.