Minority rule is destroying the country. Here are some ideas on how to change that.

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.

The presidency

  • 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.

Congress

  • 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.

Elections

  • 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.

29 years later, Ed Markey resumes his Senate campaign

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It looks like U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, a Malden Democrat, has decided to run for the Senate vacancy being created by John Kerry’s appointment as secretary of state. (Via David Bernstein.)

This will not be Markey’s first Senate run. In 1984 he was one of several Democrats who jumped in after Sen. Paul Tsongas announced he would not seek re-election because of illness. Markey soon jumped right out and ran for re-election to Congress. (Kerry, of course, was the eventual Senate winner.) Trouble was, a former state senator from Winchester named Sam Rotondi, who was also running for Congress, refused to be a domino and decided to stay in the race.

I covered the Markey-Rotondi race for The Daily Times Chronicle of Woburn, and it went right down to primary day. If I’ve got my years right, Markey then had to beat a stronger-than-usual Republican, former Somerville mayor S. Lester Ralph. It was a fun campaign.

Rewarding those they despise the most

If the polls and the pundits are to be believed, voters nationwide are about to deliver a stinging rebuke to our most popular elected official by casting their ballots in favor of our most despised political class. No, I’m not making this up. And it really calls into question what people are thinking, given that they appear poised to vote Republican on Tuesday.

Now, who is the most popular elected official? That would be the much-maligned President Obama, whose job-approval ratings are in rough shape, but who, as we shall see, stands head and shoulders above Congress. Take a look at this, and you’ll see that, in recent polls, Obama’s job approval rating is almost evenly divided between positive and negative.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that 45 percent of respondents approve of the president’s performance and 52 percent disapprove. That seems to be in line with other polls I’ve seen. Yet some polls actually reverse those numbers in Obama’s favor. For instance, this Newsweek poll finds that 54 percent approve of Obama’s job performance and 40 percent disapprove. That does not sound like a president who’s down for the count.

Obama’s numbers are not only much better than those of Congress, but the congressional numbers break down in a way that is favorable to him. The public, according to surveys, despises Congress — but it loathes the Democrats slightly less than the Republicans.

Just one out of many examples: A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that the public gives Democratic members of Congress a 36 percent positive/61 percent negative job-approval rating. The same poll shows that respondents gave Republican members of Congress a 30 percent favorable rating and a 67 percent unfavorable assessment.

You might find a few exceptions, but the emphasis would be on “few.” I’ve been following these numbers off and on since Obama’s inauguration, and congressional Republicans have consistently come in last in the three-way race for job approval.

How to explain the likelihood that the Republicans will make huge gains on Capitol Hill next week? I’m not sure it can be explained. For instance, today’s New York Times reports the results of a poll it conducted with CBS News that shows next Tuesday will be a huge day for the GOP. Yet, bizarrely, the poll also finds:

[N]early 60 percent of Americans were optimistic about Mr. Obama’s next two years in office and nearly 70 percent said the economic slump is temporary. Half said the economy was where they expected it would be at this point, and less than 10 percent blamed the current administration for the state of the economy, leaving the onus on former President George W. Bush and Wall Street.

Those findings are everything Obama and congressional Democrats could hope for. The most you can say, though, is that voters will give the president an opportunity to dig out from the rubble they are about to dump on him next Tuesday. Strange days indeed.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.