Monday, July 04, 2011

Saving The Republic

At the close of the Cosntitutional Convention in 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, "what have you given us, a republic or a monarchy?"

To which he responded, "A republic, Madam, if you can keep it."

And there are plenty of signs we are not keeping it, with far too much unbridled democracy leading to socialism leading inevitably to bankruptcy.

On this Independence Day, it is worthwhile to reflect upon solutions to restore the Republic.

Here is a link to a short paper from the Tennessee Law Review Symposium on proposed Constitutional reforms, entitled Divine Operating System.

Amongst the ideas are:
- adding the addendum, "And we really mean it!" to the 9th and 10th amendments;

- adding a House of Repeal, whose members are tasked only with repealing legislation, thus giving some politicians an actual incentive for smaller government

- the idea of "No representation without taxation", meaning that everyone should pay at least some income tax

- some kind of balanced budget process, or at least a line-item veto when the budget is out of whack

- a reduction of gerrymandered districts
These ideas are all good. I would add a few more.

1. Far too many people can now vote. Luckily, many choose not to exercise this right, and that genie is out of the bottle. We should at least endeavour to re-introduce a grounding in civic history in the schools, or in other words, remove the Marxists from the process

1a. As a symbolic gesture I would support raising the voting age back to 21, with an exception for members of the Armed Forces and Coast Guard.

2. The author of the above law article is not keen on term limits. I disagree. As for the cry that "we already have term limits -- just vote them out!", that's not the point, to simply turn them out. The idea is to change the incentives. Right now politicians have a strong incentive to avoid being voted out, by promising whatever is expedient in the short-term to the mob, which usually involved spending someone else's money (i.e., mine). Knowing that a career cannot be made out of false promises in perpetuity, a different class of person might be attracted to politics, and the ones there would perhaps at the margin think longer-term.

3. Repeal the 17th Amendment, which provided for direct election of Senators - Senators shouldn't be uber-representatives, who now get campaign cash from who knows where, and thus don't even represent the people of their states, let alone the states themselves as separate sovereign entities. I'm sure the process of appointing them by the states was corrupt, but so is the current process. At least we'd have one corruption in competition with another, which is the point of checks and balances.

For example, according to the Washington Post,
Harry M. Reid needed money, and lots of it....The senator began dialing old and new friends across the country, asking for their help. Many had one thing in common: They had a financial stake in legislation that Reid, as the most powerful member of the Senate, helps control....Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors campaigns, said trial lawyers and other Democratic-leaning donors probably want to help Reid stay in power -- but other new outside interests may want something else from him.
Having him beholden to a Nevada political machine at least isolates the interests that control him, and pit them against others. Right now, one single big corrupt influence can buy any number of senators.

4. Term limits for the Supreme Court. This interesting idea I read elsewhere, in which members can serve up to two 18-year terms, with one new member appointed every two years. This has the added benefit of giving every President exactly two appointments per term, which distributes this power more fairly among Presidents, instead of opening the system to the gaming of ideological justices attempting to time their resignations to the administration of a favorable party.

5. The national popular vote movement needs to be stopped in its tracks.

Nearly 100 years on, it's time to start fixing the excesses of the Progressive Movement, and revive the Republic. Too much democracy is a bad thing.

Happy 235th Birthday, America!

May there be many more!

And let us honor those of an earlier, more confident age.