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Needed Structural Reforms


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We need bipartisan governmental reform in a number of areas, including the codification of sensible norms that should no longer rely on voluntary compliance. Post your proposals in here.

Let's divide these into three categories:

1. Reforms that can be achieved via executive orders. (E.g., certain travel restrictions.)

2. Reforms that can be achieved via federal legislation. (E.g., requirement of Senate confirmations for certain positions that can't be circumvented so easily by an "Acting" designation.)

3. Reforms that can be achieved via constitutional amendment. (E.g., staggered, fixed terms for the Supreme Court.)

My first suggestion is in category number three. Let's shorten the lame-duck period between elections and inaugurations. Right now, each new Congress is sworn in on Jan 3 and the President on Jan 20. I'd move those dates to December 21 and Jan 3, respectively.

My second suggestion is also in category number three. Let's clarify and probably narrow the scope of the president's pardon power. He should not be able to pardon himself. He should not be able to pardon anyone for criminal contempt for violating a judicial order to comply with the federal constitution. He should not be able to pardon anyone for criminal contempt for violating a subpoena to testify about the president, or for committing perjury while testifying about the president.

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This most certainly goes against federalism, but closed primaries are just wrong to me.  
 

I am not in the term limits camp, but I am of the opinion that elected officials have no reason at all to receive lifelong pension simply because they won an election...I admit my knowledge of this is based fully on what I’ve heard is the case rather than actual truth, so I’ll adjust my stance if wrong.  In addition, while I agree some level of convenience should be afforded members, they need nothing more than what’s necessary to get to work and perform their work.  It is not a job, but a duty they claim to have been called to, luxuries are not part of the equation

Campaign seasons, a clear and defined time frame for campaigning and campaign ads.  Outside that time frame, nothing, not even from SuperPACs.  Fundraising is the 4 weeks prior, call it preseason

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The emoluments clause needs to be given teeth, with clear instruction on divestiture of business interests, process for monitoring compliance, consequences of failing to comply and process and responsibilities for enforcing those consequences.

We need requirements for vetting and publication of Presidential candidates' fiscal status once they've become a party's nominee.

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The executive branch has been increasing power for decades.  IMO the legislative should claw that back, and I think the Biden presidency is a great opportunity to do so.

I'm talking about strengthening oversight, putting teeth into subpoena powers, maybe revisiting the War Powers Act, etc.  

Seems like both parties could get behind - Rs to limit Biden, Ds because of Trump abuses.

Edited by moleculo
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28 minutes ago, That one guy said:

This most certainly goes against federalism, but closed primaries are just wrong to me.  
 

I am not in the term limits camp, but I am of the opinion that elected officials have no reason at all to receive lifelong pension simply because they won an election...I admit my knowledge of this is based fully on what I’ve heard is the case rather than actual truth, so I’ll adjust my stance if wrong.  In addition, while I agree some level of convenience should be afforded members, they need nothing more than what’s necessary to get to work and perform their work.  It is not a job, but a duty they claim to have been called to, luxuries are not part of the equation

Campaign seasons, a clear and defined time frame for campaigning and campaign ads.  Outside that time frame, nothing, not even from SuperPACs.  Fundraising is the 4 weeks prior, call it preseason

What is the argument against term limits?

Not just as it relates to above, but seems like such a slam dunk maybe I am missing the argument against it??

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38 minutes ago, derek245583 said:

What is the argument against term limits?

Not just as it relates to above, but seems like such a slam dunk maybe I am missing the argument against it??

We already have a method in place:  voting

I realize this then dives into “well voters are stupid/selfish/unengaged/etc” and I wouldn’t disagree.  I still believe it removes the fundamental power of and purpose behind voting

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45 minutes ago, derek245583 said:

What is the argument against term limits?

Not just as it relates to above, but seems like such a slam dunk maybe I am missing the argument against it??

As soon as congressmen figure out how Washington works, they are term limited.  That would leave lobbyists ad the only ones in Washington who understand how to get things done.

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14 minutes ago, moleculo said:

As soon as congressmen figure out how Washington works, they are term limited.  That would leave lobbyists ad the only ones in Washington who understand how to get things done.

Doesn’t “Washington work” differently if we are cycling through politicians instead of building these groups and alliances?

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1 minute ago, derek245583 said:

Doesn’t “Washington work” differently if we are cycling through politicians instead of building these groups and alliances?

Washington is more than politicians.

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11 hours ago, whoknew said:

1. Open up Cuba completely to Americans.

2. Greatly expand the House. I'm not totally sure what the right number is, but its not 435.

3. Eliminate the electoral college.

1.  Yep, Americans need Disneyland Cuba or Sandals Havana desperately. ;)

2.  Why?  What problem are you trying to solve here?

3.  Absolutely.  But it won’t happen.  Repub’s have zero reason to support this.

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Get rid of the filibuster.  I'm not a majoritarian -- I'm all in favor of limited government, so I generally favor things that make it harder for majorities to govern.  But we already have a bunch of those things already -- bicameralism, the presidential veto, enumerated powers, the bill of rights, federalism, judicial review (overlaps with the last few items), etc.  On the margin, the legislative filibuster is taking counter-majoritarianism a little too far. 

I put this one out there as low-hanging fruit.  It doesn't require a constitutional amendment, legislation, regulatory rule-making, or cooperation from any other branch of government or any agency or any court.  All it takes is 51 senators deciding to do it.

Edited by IvanKaramazov
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7 minutes ago, Alex P Keaton said:

1.  Yep, Americans need Disneyland Cuba or Sandals Havana desperately. ;)

2.  Why?  What problem are you trying to solve here?

3.  Absolutely.  But it won’t happen.  Repub’s have zero reason to support this.

The House needs to be enlarged because it is supposed to be the people's body. And Reps should be more responsive to their constituents. Same with the Electoral College. I've already said I would eliminate the EC, but expanding the House helps there too.

I'm sure you know this but in 1790, each representative had roughly 35,000 constituents. Today, the average member of the House has almost 770,000 people in their district. But for some reason, we stopped expanding the size of the House 100 years ago.

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1 minute ago, whoknew said:

The House needs to be enlarged because it is supposed to be the people's body. And Reps should be more responsive to their constituents. Same with the Electoral College. I've already said I would eliminate the EC, but expanding the House helps there too.

I'm sure you know this but in 1790, each representative had roughly 35,000 constituents. Today, the average member of the House has almost 770,000 people in their district. But for some reason, we stopped expanding the size of the House 100 years ago.

Ah, thanks for explaining.  Wasn’t sure which route you were going.  Makes sense.

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10 minutes ago, whoknew said:

The House needs to be enlarged because it is supposed to be the people's body. And Reps should be more responsive to their constituents. Same with the Electoral College. I've already said I would eliminate the EC, but expanding the House helps there too.

I'm sure you know this but in 1790, each representative had roughly 35,000 constituents. Today, the average member of the House has almost 770,000 people in their district. But for some reason, we stopped expanding the size of the House 100 years ago.

Did we run out of desk space?

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1 hour ago, timschochet said:

In terms of elections: have a lottery every 4 years to determine the order of primaries. One time Rhode Island might be first. One time California might be first, No more always Iowa and New Hampshire. 

Why *is* there an order at all, rather than coordinated national primary day just like the election itself?  Wouldn’t that take away undue influence of current setup?

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11 minutes ago, That one guy said:

Why *is* there an order at all, rather than coordinated national primary day just like the election itself?  Wouldn’t that take away undue influence of current setup?

That’s not a good idea, IMO, because it would take away all smaller state concerns, as well as all retail campaigning. A candidate like Buttigieg would have no chance whatsoever; corporations would decide the candidates completely, 

We need to have one primary after another; that’s the way to handle it. But it shouldn’t be the same order every time is my argument. 

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14 hours ago, moleculo said:

The executive branch has been increasing power for decades.  IMO the legislative should claw that back, and I think the Biden presidency is a great opportunity to do so.

I'm talking about strengthening oversight, putting teeth into subpoena powers, maybe revisiting the War Powers Act, etc.  

Seems like both parties could get behind - Rs to limit Biden, Ds because of Trump abuses.

I love this, but it wont happen without term limits.  These guys are constantly campaigning and scared to put their name on anything that might cost them a vote.

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Campaign finance reform is also much needed.  Not sure what that looks like.  It's a problem how much energy our elected officials dedicate to fundraising, not to mention the obscene dollars spent on annoying commercials.  There's got to be a better way.

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I've spent the 2nd half of my long life hoping the word "union" would stop being an epithet so the idea of forming a Citizens' Union might gain traction. A generation ago, when the salaries of sports figures started to skyrocket and strikes in the major sports were a semi-regular thing, i spent dozens of hours calling national sportstalk shows trying to drum up interest for a Fan's Union. Now, since the idea was unsuccessful, a working person cant afford to take their family to ballgames and b-ballers are deciding when to start their next season but expect their contracts to be paid in full.

Unions are a solid concept. I stewarded for two of em and helped a local get started in the Albq health system and i know how many lives my efforts affected, all to the good. It's just that they never got on the right track because they wouldnt have existed if labor unions hadnt hired "security" as vile & violent as employers' and that started a dysfunctional cycle which clouds or corrupts the concept to this day.

As i've written in this forum before, if the guy who runs Starbucks really wanted to help, he'd put a booth in every franchise where people could go if they wanted to change the world a li'lbit. They could check out issues and opportunities, find out where an afternoon of effort might do society a little good, bulletinboard their own issues, sign the Petition of the Day, join a militia, get activated. That's how the union concept starts within a person - giving them small ways to be effective. It plants a hunger, more often than not and, kept relatively free of old labor-union corruptions, changes the world.

Edited by wikkidpissah
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2 hours ago, timschochet said:

That’s not a good idea, IMO, because it would take away all smaller state concerns, as well as all retail campaigning. A candidate like Buttigieg would have no chance whatsoever; corporations would decide the candidates completely, 

I was about to type up a similar response, but then I decided that I'm not sure I really agree with this argument anymore.  You're 100% right that a national primary would strongly favor well-known, well-financed establishment-type candidates.  Then again, that's what we've ended up with in every election from 1980 up to 2016.  I suppose Carter is probably an example of the kind of guy who needed staggered primaries to get going -- has there been a more recent example?  I know some people will point to Obama in 2008 but he had a huge national presence heading into that race, not at all comparable to someone like Buttigieg. 

And besides, in a post-Trump world, I have a new appreciation for establishment candidates who their party can unify behind.

Regardless, I've become strongly convinced that our election season is way, way, WAY too long.  It is absurd and unhealthy that we start this process nearly two years before election day.  There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why we need to start holding primaries in February and draw out the calendar to allow for eleventy-million "debates" featuring fifth-tier candidates vying to cram in their stupid viral soundbites.  I don't know that a national primary is the right answer; I'm inclined to say it's not.  But we should find some way to dramatically shorten the election period.

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4 hours ago, timschochet said:

In terms of elections: have a lottery every 4 years to determine the order of primaries. One time Rhode Island might be first. One time California might be first, No more always Iowa and New Hampshire. 

100% in favor of this. New York is one of the biggest states in the country and by the time we vote the candidate is already locked in

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17 hours ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

3. Reforms that can be achieved via constitutional amendment. (E.g., staggered, fixed terms for the Supreme Court.)

This will probably take a constitutional amendment -- if there's a good argument to the contrary I'm all ears -- but I would like to see national standards for voting protocols in federal elections.  If Roadkill County wants to elect its school board using some weird procedure, fine whatever.  But it is dumb that a federal election could have potentially turned on a PA election statute that was whimsically set aside by a state court.  Elections to federal office -- house, senate, president -- should follow some common set of federal procedures.

Also, we should invest in vote-counting technology, which isn't something I expected to be alarmed about in 2020.  Fortunately it shouldn't require a constitutional amendment to put states in a position to competently count votes on election day and/or possibly the day after.

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1 hour ago, IvanKaramazov said:

Also, just to be the "that guy," threads about government reform always feature calls for term limits and campaign finance reform.  Those are both bad ideas, and the latter has the extra wrinkle of being unconstitutional.

Hey hey, step back Pennybags!  I already said no to term limits 

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1 hour ago, IvanKaramazov said:

Also, just to be the "that guy," threads about government reform always feature calls for term limits and campaign finance reform.  Those are both bad ideas, and the latter has the extra wrinkle of being unconstitutional.

What about a term limit to positions of power in Congress? As an example, 8 years as Speaker of the House or Senate Majority leader?  They can still be in Congress but they just can’t hold that role.

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A mandatory service year between age 18 and 23, paid for by the US government or private, non-political charitable organization.  Military service counts in that as well. 

If you don't serve, you aren't eligible for a driver's license.

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15 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

A mandatory service year between age 18 and 23, paid for by the US government or private, non-political charitable organization.  Military service counts in that as well. 

If you don't serve, you aren't eligible for a driver's license.

 

Quote

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

 

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On 11/6/2020 at 8:04 PM, Maurile Tremblay said:

We need bipartisan governmental reform in a number of areas, including the codification of sensible norms that should no longer rely on voluntary compliance. Post your proposals in here.

Let's divide these into three categories:

1. Reforms that can be achieved via executive orders. (E.g., certain travel restrictions.)

2. Reforms that can be achieved via federal legislation. (E.g., requirement of Senate confirmations for certain positions that can't be circumvented so easily by an "Acting" designation.)

3. Reforms that can be achieved via constitutional amendment. (E.g., staggered, fixed terms for the Supreme Court.)

My first suggestion is in category number three. Let's shorten the lame-duck period between elections and inaugurations. Right now, each new Congress is sworn in on Jan 3 and the President on Jan 20. I'd move those dates to December 21 and Jan 3, respectively.

My second suggestion is also in category number three. Let's clarify and probably narrow the scope of the president's pardon power. He should not be able to pardon himself. He should not be able to pardon anyone for criminal contempt for violating a judicial order to comply with the federal constitution. He should not be able to pardon anyone for criminal contempt for violating a subpoena to testify about the president, or for committing perjury while testifying about the president.

Good work here.

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9 hours ago, The Z Machine said:

It's not involuntary servitude.  You just don't get all the perks, like the ability to legally drive a car or get a loan.

Those aren't perks.  If somebody was proposing that only baptized Christians should be allowed to drive, I'll bet you would be able to identify that as an open/shut first amendment issue.  Your proposal is exactly the same, only with a different amendment.

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12 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

Those aren't perks.  If somebody was proposing that only baptized Christians should be allowed to drive, I'll bet you would be able to identify that as an open/shut first amendment issue.  Your proposal is exactly the same, only with a different amendment.

Good point.  Likely not constitutional. 

I do think it's a good idea though.  How to make it optional while getting significant buy in?

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3 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

Good point.  Likely not constitutional. 

I do think it's a good idea though.  How to make it optional while getting significant buy in?

Clinton tried to get at this with AmeriCorps, which I think is still around.  Maybe Teach for America also qualifies?  (Not so sure about that second one).

I'm not really opposed to these sorts of programs if they're strictly voluntary.  It's not much of a stretch to think of this as some flavor of extended workforce development.

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48 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

Good point.  Likely not constitutional. 

I do think it's a good idea though.  How to make it optional while getting significant buy in?

Could you create something similar to a GI bill but for civilian work if you opt-in? Maybe each year of service pays for up to two years of college depending on the school?

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On 11/7/2020 at 8:45 AM, IvanKaramazov said:

Get rid of the filibuster.  I'm not a majoritarian -- I'm all in favor of limited government, so I generally favor things that make it harder for majorities to govern.  But we already have a bunch of those things already -- bicameralism, the presidential veto, enumerated powers, the bill of rights, federalism, judicial review (overlaps with the last few items), etc.  On the margin, the legislative filibuster is taking counter-majoritarianism a little too far. 

I put this one out there as low-hanging fruit.  It doesn't require a constitutional amendment, legislation, regulatory rule-making, or cooperation from any other branch of government or any agency or any court.  All it takes is 51 senators deciding to do it.

The filibuster is counter-something, but I'm not sure "majoritarianism" is it when applied to a senate that isn't distributed evenly across the population.  Counter-nationalism, maybe?

 

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Anything that percolates conflict and compromise to the surface. 

There should be some reasonable and nuanced rules for defining a presidential candidate by his conflicts and mechanisms for clearing enough of those conflicts that allow accomplished persons of sufficient character to serve in prominent public roles.  

Along those lines, I'd like to see more teeth added to FARA.  I have the sense that not enough prosecutions have happened here but maybe there are more shoes to drop (*cough* *Jared* *cough*).  

Agree that something with allocation of EC votes needs to change.  

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1 hour ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

Here's one: No President should ever have the ability, without agreement from a number of designated civil servants (not political appointees), to launch nukes.

Retaliatory strategic strikes, too?

This suggestion strikes me as problematic because it would seem the election of civilians would hinge on a stereotypical litmus-esque yes/no divide, with each political party adopting predictable positions about the use of nuclear weapons. The civilian oversight board strikes me as too philosopher-king for me. I'm sure there would actually be presidents relieved to have the gravity of that duty dissipated into a consensus-building thing, but at the same time, you're losing the efficacy of single-person decision-making and simply shifting the buck of a weighty decision to a consensus-building exercise. You might get an unworkable combination, where the president is theoretically "checked" by his elected civilian oversight, stripping him effectively from using of one the major unspoken tools of our international relations. Elections, always transparent, will provide bad actors with vital information about our propensity to launch nuclear weapons, the threat of which clearly acts as a geopolitical deterrent in our favor.

I don't know. I'd say it's an important issue, I can just see its machinations becoming not only more political theater both in symbolism and in reality but also potentially undercutting the sad benefits of having these weapons. We certainly don't need that. 

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