What single change would best improve government?

If you could make any one change to the US government to improve the system what would it be? Not a specific law (raise/lower taxes, make abortion legal/illegal, etc) but a process change to improve how other laws are created.
For instance, you could give more/less power to the President vs congress. You could change the voting system to Instant Run-Off Voting to third parties could get in the system without splitting the vote. You could require all laws to be less than a certain number of words so as to limit pork being “sneaked in” to good laws. You could elect the president via a parlimentary election or require a public comment period on any proposed law. Maybe every law should automatically expire after X years unless congress votes to re-approve it. Any change you want.
What single change would best improve the entire system?

Personally? It offends me when laws that would have never passed on their own are bundled with other popular laws. Like in 2006 when a bill to outlaw internet gambling was stuck in an unrelatd bill about port security so opponents would be forced to vote for it. I can’t quite figure out any loophole-proof way to outlaw that, but there must be one.

What’s the single best change you could make?

Term limits for all officials, including the Supreme Court (theirs being set long, but still limited - maybe 15 years)

Term limits, will get rid of career politicians, cut down on coruption,reduce the influence of lobbiest and allow new ideas to be considered.
Line item veto, will make it harder to pass unpopular bills sliped into more popular ones.

Damn beat by 2 min.

Also return the Senate to State representation rather than popular vote. The people are already represented by the House.

This is a tall order, but I would make it so that the “switch in time that saved nine” never occurred. Here a couple of links discussing it:


http://theswitchintime.blogspot.com/2008/09/this-is-most-important-election-in.html (note that this guy has a different perspective on it than I do)

The basic idea here is that the switch paved the way for an expansion of the federal government’s legislative power, which led to lots of other cases expanding federal power. In short, I wish the federal government would return to printing money, raising and deploying the armed forces, and running the post office, and not much else, and reversing the switch is the easiest way to do that in a “single change.”

Seriously disagree on that one. There’s no denying “the people” are frequently stupid and frequently vote for the wrong guy. But there’s also no denying “the party establishment” would support its own candidates in a way that doesn’t reflect the interests and desires of the people. It becomes about the politics of rewarding cronies and payback for favors done.

It would probably take a constitutional amendment along the lines of:

*Congress shall pass no law touching on more than one subject, which must be clearly stated in the title of said law. *

There are states which operate under similar restrictions without noticiable difficulty.

Personal accountability and responsibility for everyone in public service, coupled with aforementioned term limits for elected officials.

This would require a constitutional amendment since the previous attempt was killed by SCOTUS.

A single subject clause. I started a thread before the bailout was passed advocating this very thing. I think if Congress was limited to voting on bills that only dealt with one subject it would encourage more scrutiny and debate, and if they couldn’t pass marginally beneficial legislation by adding a bunch of unrelated “sweeteners,” then maybe they’d back off a little and let the states pick up some of the legislative slack.

Ballot-access reform, instant-runoff voting, electoral fusion, proportional representation – any and all reforms that would facilitate the emergence of a multiparty system.

I disagree regarding set term limits; I’m concerned that this would make party campaign apparatus even more important than it is today. I think I’m with BrainGlutton; I’d like to see something that made multiple parties more likely.

For the Federal Government to stop fucking governing, to get back to being the Union, and let the Sovereign States deal with their own shit. Let the Federal Government protect us from outside invasion, print money, run the USPS and make sure we have Civil Liberties.

Other than that, GTFO of my life goddamnit.

In my more cynical moments, I like the idea of requiring every single law passed to have an expiration/renewal date (of not more than, say, two years).

Sure, I realize that it would take up huge amounts of time. That’s exactly the point: a(n admittedly clumsy and unworkable) proposal that attempts to not only simplify/streamline the law, but to reduce government authority through mandated obsolescence.

As someone who lives in a country with PR, the single thing I’d like most is for us to not have PR. Party Lists are an abomination.

As some from a country that introduced it in my lifetime I have to disagree.

You must be fortunate enough to not have parties who put corrupt scum on their lists then.

I think Oakminster’s suggestion is probably the most sensible. As a Non-American, I’m frankly staggered that your legislative system lets this sort of thing happen (sneaking laws relating to Subject Z through as part of legislation relating to Subject A). It doesn’t work that way here (fortunately) and it shouldn’t work that way anywhere, IMHO.

As for the biggest change I’d make to Australian politics? Probably that if the PM or State Premier resigns/retires/loses their seat for whatever reason, then their replacement should be elected by direct, popular vote.

For example, here in Queensland, the previous Premier, Peter Beattie, retired more or less unexpectedly a year and a bit ago, and Anna Bligh ended up as Premier.

I didn’t vote for her, and wouldn’t have voted for her if I had the opportunity- in fact, no-one outside her own electoral seat voted for her- and yet she’s El Premier of the entire State and isn’t doing a very good job of it, IMHO.

The Parliamentary system in Commonwealth countries can be a bit confusing to people in the US, but other UK/Aussie/Kiwi/Canadian posters will understand what I mean when I say that even though the Prime Minister (or Premier) isn’t directly elected usually, there’s an implicit understanding that if you vote for Candidate A of the Silly Party, and the Silly Party’s Leader is Mr Biscuit-Barrel, then that means that if enough people vote the Silly Party’s Candidates into power then Mr. Biscuit-Barrel is going to end up as PM or Premier.

So, even though you’re not directly voting for El Presidente, it’s still being done indirectly with the knowledge of who the PM is going to be if your preferred party wins enough seats.

So, when Mr. Biscuit-Barrel suddenly resigns halfway through his term to go and take up a lucrative-paying role with the UN Commission on Standing Around Doing Nothing And Looking Silly, the Silly Party themselves decides who gets to be Party Leader (and thus El Presidente) and suddenly you’ve got someone that no-one (or only a small number of people) voted for in charge of a State/Country. And that’s not right, IMHO.

This. There has got to be a better method than the adversarial system, surely?

Generally, I’d like to see personal gains for politicians severely limited; I have a feeling there’s too many people in it just for the power and the money. The power is kind of a necessity, so let’s curtail the monetary incentive. Have them be true servants of the people.

The problem with this is all the talented people then go off to the private sector. Ultimately, if they’re competent their reasons for being there aren’t very important.