You can make 3 permanent changes to the way your country is run--which 3?

Just a thought experiment on my part, but thought it may be interesting to hear the Dope’s views on it.

While walking on the beach one day, you stub your toe on a large and unusually ugly seashell. As is the way of these things, said seashell contains a genie with phenomenal cosmic powers, who also happens to be a die-hard political and jurisprudence wonk. In line with his interests, he offers you not 3 general purpose wishes, but 3 wishes solely to do with the ways your country is run.

**You can make 3 permanent changes to the way your country is run. **Permanent means they remain in effect until your country’s dissolution or merger into a larger body.

As to what constitutes a “change,” he leaves that to you, but urges you to be suitably conservative and sensible, because if you try to wish in some giant package of changes as a single change, he’ll turn you into an insect, crush you like an insect, and then teleport you to a rainforest where you’ll live out the (very short) remainder of your injured insect life.

You may, of course, choose to make one of your changes that you are now dictator for life, but I feel I should point out that overall, having 3 permanent choices gives you considerably more staying power than most historical d-for-l’s, in the sense your changes will actually continue as long as your country still exists (unlike the many empires which soon dissolved or repudiated many of their d-for-l’s desires soon after their deaths).

And so, brave Dopers, it is handed over to you - what 3 changes would YOU wish for, from policy-wonk genie?

(It may be helpful for others to state your country if it’s not obvious from your post.)

  1. When (not “if”) a politician lies, they immediately vaporise into dust.
  2. Anything imposed on the people, or a section of them, that is announced/purported to be for their benefit, is also to be imposed on all of those who authorised it (assuming they aren’t on the floor ready for the dustpan and broom)
  3. Waste is not permissible, eg No junket trips, no getting driven around by chauffeurs, no mail-outs to the entire population just to feed them some nonsense.

That’s it.

  1. Zero tolerance for ANY and ALL elected offical’s misconduct. Grope an intern? Cheat on expense account? Giving contracts to friends and family? Taking free holidays from connections? You’re done. Your job and any future political aspirations are over. You lose your pension. I have no problem holding those elected to a much higher standard of conduct.

  2. Government funds all elections, NO ONE takes money, from anyone. Ever. Everyone gets the same amount, number of tv spots, billboards, signs, etc.

  3. (A) If you do not vote every government service, from speeding tickets to marriage liscencing, comes with an addition 2% charge. This includes your tax rate. If you’re getting government subsidies or rebates you lose 2%. You can’t be arsed to participate in your democracy? That comes with a fee for pushing your responsibility unto everyone else.

(B) No government gets formed until AT LEAST 65% of eligible voters cast ballots. Guessing politicians might have to speak English instead of jibberish, and actually address citizens issues.

  1. Remove the “straight Party vote” option from all elections

  2. At elections all the names are displayed in a random fashion without party designations after/near them and people are forbidden from taking notes into the booth when they vote. You want to vote for only one Party, memorize the damn names.

  3. Do away with the Electoral College for POTUS.

How would ‘everyone’ be defined? That’s the problem I see here. If I decide to run for President as an independent, do I get the same funding as major-party nominees do?

I’m all for minimizing the role of money in politics. I’m just trying to get at what this change would actually be.

As for my three, I’m gonna ruminate a bit. What I’d be thinking about would be, what changes would do the most to make the U.S.A. more small-d democratic? There’s a lot of areas to be considered: the role of money in politics, the way the media gives Americans a very distorted picture of what’s happening in our country, the way some people’s votes count more than others, when they’re not kept from voting altogether…you get the idea.

Good question, OP. Not an easy one to answer.

– The USA would merge with either Canada or the UK or both, which would finally give us UHC.
– Abolish the Senate and replace it with a combination of quasi-lifetime* membership based on long-standing public service and proportionate party-list representation. Increase Senate pay severalfold but enforce a total ban on any outside investments other than a blind trust. Once a politician has qualified for Senate membership, if they decline they are not permitted to run for other offices so it would also accomplish term limits. The members can also vote their consciences since they cannot be voted out and cannot make money for themselves. The party-list portion would also enable third-party representation.
– Change the House back to membership based on absolute population and change the ratio so that the House membership is nearly doubled. Replace re-districting with an algorithmic approach verified by an impartial committee.

*I say “quasi” because if the membership becomes too large there might be means to pare it down to a maximum number.

  1. Single term for the House and Senate (so one person could serve a maximum of 8 years if they got elected to both).
  2. Replace the income tax, corporate tax, estate tax and all other federal taxes with a national sales tax and a prebate to some defined poverty level so the first $20K or so in spending is tax-free.
  3. No bill in Congress may cover more than one topic.

That way basically only four states ( NY, CA, TX and FL) elect the President. These four have a combined population approaching 110,000,000 about 1/3 of the total US population. Candidates would spend almost all their time and money in these states because that is where the votes are (shutting out the voters in the other 46 states from the Presidential electoral process).

Candidates would also campaign in the cities of Chicago, Philadelphia and maybe Phoenix, but that would probably be it.

I’ve heard that argument against the idea but I’m not all that sure its a bad thing.

As it is now, playing the College, you can have people fail to make a majority of the voters and still become POTUS. Or worse yet sometimes make the majority narrowly and College by tons giving them a “landslide” and “a mandate” to basically go way off on their own. Again, not always a bad thing but just not my bag. And since the states you name have had a fair mixture over history as far as what Party they favor I am thinking it wouldn’t be too much different at first unless one of the two figures out the best way to game the system.

I’m a former farm kid in a state that is only important to POTUS because of the College; it would seem odd to me at first as well. But we need to get past what makes us feel good and look at some ideas that may – just maybe – give us some better leadership and results.

Yeah, heaven forbid those 110M people’s votes should count as much as anyone else’s vote. CLEARLY the only fair way is to let all the people living in states nobody wants to live in have votes that count 4x each. :rolleyes:

And besides, it might give the rest of us in the country NOT in those states a break in the interminable and unavoidable multi-year barrage of slime, attack-ads, substanceless babble, and BS that candidates continuously emanate in their quest for re-election (which didn’t seem fixed by any of kopek’s other points, so would still be an ongoing thing).

I gotta say, this is my favorite one so far. :smiley:

Honestly, all three of yours were pretty good, but that one just has a certain flair to it. It’s a lot more supernatural than I was thinking of, as I was just thinking of implementable-by-humans changes, but I guess I opened the door on that by having a policy-wonk genie in the first place.

I’d maybe ad an “and anyone can ask them a question at set regular intervals through the year and they must answer” proviso too, just to make sure they don’t go into closed-door / witness-protection-mode as soon as they’re elected, but that’s almost a must-have!

  1. Find a way to merge the US with more civilized nations, so our dysfunctional minority cannot do as much damage. Maybe merge the US with Canada and England, and then change to maybe a multi party parliamentary system.

Is that two wishes or one? Because we could just adopt the systems of Canada or England when we merge with them.

  1. Eliminate all money from politics as well as the revolving door of going from the public sector to high paying private sector jobs in industries you used to regulate.

  2. Find a way to curb the destructive influence of voters. The reality is bad politicians come from bad voters. What changes could be implemented to limit the damage bad voters can do? If the voters are idiots or do not respect democracy, what can be done to limit the damage the politicians who reflect those voters can do? Rules about that, whatever they are. Better primary systems. More transparency and accountability for politicians. A stronger judiciary. Stronger law enforcement. A stronger media. I don’t know.

  1. Strict term limits: One six year term for POTUS, one six year term for the Senate and two two year terms for the House
  2. All lobbying by any and all special interest groups will be illegal
  3. All votes in both the House and the Senate must require a 2/3rds majority to pass.

You are mistaken in how you are looking at the population numbers. In those four states not everyone votes for the same person. If they vote in roughly the same proportion as everyone then without an electoral college it doesn’t matter how many people are in the state. You don’t seriously think that all voters in CA and NY are going to vote the same as all voters in TX do you?

Can only think of one:

Politicians get paid a maximum of X times the minimum wage of their country’s citizens. Not sure about the number X yet, but I think tying their salary to that of the common people would be a good way to go.

Furthermore, minority-party voters in those states other than Florida have no say in the presidential election.

There’s nothing particularly special about states anyway: witness the occasional mooting of how to re-align states more logically if we could, and there are hundreds of ways they could be split, segments of certain states that would more closely align with neighboring states, states that could be split or combined, and many of these make a lot of sense. There’d always be people who felt like they were getting the short end, however.

Great idea, next to term limit for all offices, a zero-tolerance policy would be absolutely a great idea…as you state, public service needs to include a higher standard of conduct…

Don’t agree with this per the discussion points raised previously - basically taking away the votes from a significant part of the population would only piss them off…

Absolutely…all those riders just fuel the special interest groups in DC…

As far as my third, I’m torn between term limits and absolutely restricting lobbying to voting citizens - one could lobby Congress on an issue, but on your own time and your own dollar, professional lobbyists and corporate lobbyists would be outlawed…

Plus it would also accomplish most of the reform of the Senate. If I had to live with a few hereditary House of Lords then so be it. I wonder though if giving the appointed members a carrot of more power for themselves by making their powers more like the American Senate could entice the appointed members to have a more formal approach to new members and to replace the remaining peerage-elected positions with something else.

However, as few Americans as would want such an arrangement (I’d say maybe high single digits), even fewer other Anglophones would want to be swamped by American votes - low single digits (or even lower!)

  1. All elected officials of every rank must put all their assets into a national escrow program while they are in office. This includes their homes, their accounts, and all of their (and their dependents’) possessions. They will be put on the waiting list for subsidized housing as soon as they’re elected, and they’ll be paid the minimum wage for as long as they hold office.

  2. Political donations are limited to $500 per year per person. Corporate donations cease to exist - only private, and only citizens. Every citizen of voting age has a political donations account given to them every year, stocked with the above-mentioned $500, which can’t be used for anything else. If they don’t use it, it just sits there doing nothing until they do. If they do use it, it is topped back up to $500 each year. Donations from outside these accounts are impossible.

  3. Every time a citizen meets with any elected official, the meeting must be supervised by another elected official of the same rank who doesn’t belong to the same party. All meetings with elected officials are for individual private citizens only; no representatives of groups of any kind are permitted to meet a politician at all.