Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Constitution

If I could, with a wave of my magic wand, pass any Constitutional Amendment that I desired, I would pass two:

First, I would decree that, when elected the House of Representatives, every state would comprise a multi-member district with the cut-off point being a single seat. In other words, when you voted for your Congressman, you would have two votes: one for the political party, one for the particular candidate. The number of seats each party had in Congress would be determined by the total percentage of the vote. If, for example, your party won 60% of the vote in a ten representative state, you would have six seats. (Smaller percentages can be dealt with, but it's complicated.) If a party in that state doesn't get 10%, they don't get a seat.

There are many advantages to this: first, it would eliminate gerrymandering. Second, it would reduce the whole popularity contest diva thing that our representatives do. Third, it would strengthen political parties. (In our current system, every congressman is essentially his own political party with his own interests and, of course, his own need for pork to pay off his supporters. By strengthening the parties, we reduce the number of people who need to get theirs.) Fourth, it would create a two-and-a-half party system (which seems to be the most stable). There would have to be two large parties, because in smaller states, with only a couple of representatives, one would need to garner a substantial chunk of the vote to get a seat, but the parties would have to be more responsive, because, if they didn't, smaller parties would absorb disaffected voters. (See the post Dubya, for what I'm talking about.) That's amendment number one.

My second amendment would be a declaration that Supreme Court Justices be appointed for a single, twelve year term, and that three of them come up for appointment every four years. Every president would get to appoint three Justices, a two-term president would get to appoint eight. This would ensure that there was a steady rotation through the Supreme Court, which would moderate the court's rulings, since people are loathe to make drastic changes when the next guy can change it all right back, and make appointments less of a political issue and more of a routine--a.k.a., help depoliticize the court. Besides, fresh blood is always good--are we really convinced that we cannot come up with three suitably qualified candidates every four years?

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