There’s something about writing a proposed constitutional amendment that has the whiff of nuttery about it — some guy sitting at home in his underwear (hey, that’s me!) raving about something that has no chance of influencing anyone.
But, having complained quite a bit about our slide into undemocratic minority rule — a consequence of small, Republican states having a disproportionate advantage in the Electoral College and the Senate — I thought I’d lay out one possible solution. Or solutions.
We could move to a parliamentary system, and that would certainly be an improvement on what we have now. But I thought it would be interesting to see what it would look like if we tried something less radical, but still comprehensive. So here we go.
- This one is simple. Abolish the Electoral College. Elect the president by popular vote. One person, one vote should be our lodestar. Let’s end the absurdity of voters in tiny Wyoming having nearly four times as much power as Californians.
- The Senate is unfixable because of its two-senators-per state requirement. That makes it far worse than even the Electoral College. Let’s make the Senate a mostly honorary body whose members are appointed by the states. I would restrict the senators’ powers to choosing the wine at weekly social gatherings they would be required to attend.
- House members should be elected to four-year terms in presidential-election years. No more midterms. House districts would be drawn by nonpartisan commissions. States would be free to set up multi-member districts if they choose. (Actually, they are free to do so now, but no one does.) For instance, Massachusetts could have three House districts instead of nine, and each district would elect three members.
The Supreme Court
- The nine members would each be appointed to a single 16-year term. Each president would be guaranteed two appointments per term. Proposals to curtail the justices’ power ought to be considered as well, but I’m not going to address that here.
- All federal elections would require a majority winner. If the first-place finisher in a multi-candidate field receives less than 50% of the vote, a runoff would be held.
- Attempts to regulate campaign spending would be deemed not to be in violation of the First Amendment.
- Needless to say, attempts to restrict the vote of the sort that a number of red states have adopted would be taken out with the trash and burned.
Problem solved! Two hundred thirty-four years of accommodating the former slave states are enough.