What would you change about the US government if you could start from scratch?

I know it’s a brood question. I’ve REALLY been struggling with what I specifically would like to ask, and how I would like to ask it. I’m also not sure if this belongs in GD or IMHO.

At first I was going to ask about going back in time and somehow becoming a member of the founding fathers, (or ‘founding parents’ if you’re a female,) knowing what you know now, and how you would change things… but I would rather hear about what people would do in present day, if there could be a total overhaul in government and politics.

I’m not sure I can contribute in an intelligent way, but I enjoy starting threads and observing what others have to say. There are a lot of things I would LIKE to change, like means to use alternative energy instead of relying on oil, and polluting our environment… but I’m just too dim to understand how to form a plan to do something like that.

If there’s one thing I would want, it would be more options at the election booth, and not just a two party system. HOW I would implement that without consequence, I haven’t the slightest. Of course there would be a lot of civil matters I would change, but once again, I wouldn’t know the best way to implement them.

It’s not easy to express exactly what I’m trying to ask… I won’t be disappointed if few people contributed to this thread, because I understand it’s not really clear what I’m looking for. I asked my brother to help me with this thread, but he’s not interested. I was on the fence of even attempting to ask this of ‘dopers’, but I’m just too curious and would probably learn something by those who choose to participate.

There would be three Senators per State, and they would be elected, not by district within the State, but by polling, with the three largest vote counts taking the seats, and only one vote per election per voter.
I hop this would give minority viewpoints a better representation.

Um, I don’t believe senators are elected by district within the state now. It’s a statewide election, at least here in Tennessee.

I think I’d change the Senate significantly: instead of being 2 senators per state, it’d be a parliamentary system, in which you vote for a party, and seats are distributed according to how many votes each party gets, each percentage of the overall vote according the party a single seat. The house would remain in its current form.

Our country has become much less regional since its founding: tech workers in Raleigh have a lot more in common with tech workers in Silicon Valley than either set of people has in common with farmers who live twenty miles away. Our current system does not serve minorities well, whereas a system like the one I described would give folks far better representation.

The electoral college would go away, replaced by a popular vote. I’ve read extensive arguments for the electoral college, and I find them all bizarre bordering on superstitious.

The second amendment would go away. Gun control would be decided on its own merits, not on conformity to a well-regulated militia amendment.

A modern and extended Bill of Rights.

A triumviral chief executive, elected at two-year intervals for a single six-year term each.

Much clearer federal/state roles with the realities of the modern world considered in the division.

A clear and inarguable statement of individual rights to possess lethal weapons - either way.

A combined and clarified statement that all humans have innate and equal fundamental rights. Sub-definition for “citizens” as appropriate. (This must avoid the self-cancelling variation that “all are equal” - we all must have equal rights and equal access to opportunity to make the most of our inherently different abilities and potential.)

A tier of ways to modify the document, to make lesser changes easier by era while preserving the major elements against political whims.

Oh–and guidelines for voting districts would be extremely important.

Some rules around campaign finance, to prevent the purchase of elections.

Not sure how exactly to achieve this, but I would seek a way to limit the influence of money, particularly special-interests buying political votes, in Congress.

Perhaps some sort of codified campaign finance reform.

I completely agree, but in a thought experiment of (1) staring at a blank sheet of parchment that (2) exists in the real world… I can’t begin to think of a way to achieve these goals. Money and its parallel influence are going to talk no matter how fast you build legislative walls to corral it.

Even the fundamental corruption of “free speech doesn’t belong to anyone running for office” wouldn’t be a start.

I looked up the word “triumviral”, but I’m still not sure what it is. Do you mean in place of a president?


That exists in most European countries. Speaking of France (which obviously I know the best) :

-Donations to political parties are strictly limited.

  • Campaign expenses are capped. Spending more than allowed result in the cancellation of your election.

-Campaign expenses are reimbursed up to a given amount providing you get at least 5% of the votes.

  • Political leaflets from all parties/candidates, if provided, are sent free of charge to all electors.

  • Political adds are banned on TV and radio except for the official campaign broadcasts on public TV.

-TV and radios must provide equal coverage time to all candidates, regardless how minor, during the presidential election.

-Parties or candidates get “official campaign” broadcast time on public TV.
Even though this doesn’t abolish the power of money, it significantly reduces its influence. A big donation by some company is useless if it’s illegal in the first place, can’t be spent due to the expenses capping anyway, and can’t buy you air time in any case.

I believe it is referring to a three-person executive, instead of a single executive (the president).

But each is elected separately.

You’d only get to vote for one, under my changes, and the top three would win.
It would encourage a broader spread of candidates.

I’d get rid of the “freedom of the press” clause.
It’s all well and good to have an independent press. But absolute freedom to lie, to commit fraud, to libel? Nope.

I would add some kind of constitutional obligation to protect the environment and natural resources, so “strict constructionists” and “Tenthers” wouldn’t act like the EPA is illegitimate.

And I expect I’d be killed trying to do those things.

I thought that may be the case, but how would there be any definitive answer if all were to disagree?

Yes. It’s an idea I saw discussed long ago and I’ve refined the notion as a continuing thought experiment. It has a snowflake’s chance in hell of ever being considered at any meaningful level, but…

Split the Presidency into a three-person job. Elect a new one every two years and retire the most senior. Each one serves six years.

The most senior member is The President, fulfilling all demands that can’t devolve to any second person. His/her primary responsibility is overall stewardship and foreign policy.

The middle member is essentially responsible for domestic policy and administration.

The junior member is much like the VP - learning a job that can only be learned on the job, handling ceremonial and traditional duties, and generally backstopping the other two.

Terms of six years are long enough to accomplish all one individual can, without setting up even the excess of current eight-year terms. Elections every two years keep the turnover relevant to national tenor. Each candidate learning their way up the layers of responsibility promotes deeper understanding of the job(s) without making novice or crisis mistakes.

shrug Makes sense to me, meaning it’s probably mad as a hatter’s adder.

I understood what you were meant. My point was that, by mentioning districts, you were demonstrating a misunderstanding of how senators are not elected now.

Give all Senators and Representatives 4-year terms, can only be reelected once. None of this 6-year, 2-year, unlimited reelection nonsense.
No Electoral College. Popular vote.
Prohibit the release of opinion polling one week before the election.
Prohibit media coverage of elections until one year before the election.
Have a balanced budget amendment.
Don’t pass the Second Amendment. The country will do fine without private gun ownership.
Have a lot more referendums. Make the Constitution easier to amend. If 67% of people vote in a nationwide referendum to have the Constitution changed one way, then that’s it.

Flat income tax of 10% for all taxpayers.
Allow people to determine how 5% of their taxes are going to be spent, on their tax returns. If they want to earmark 5% of their taxes towards education or transportation or defense, so be it.
Have far stricter controls on the media. Have far more severe penalties for libel, slander or erroneous reporting/journalism.

You surely wouldn’t choose a system no other country wants to go near.

Just go for a standard, off-the-shelf Parliamentary system.