Proposed Constitutional amendment.
As I look back over my experiences as a voting citizen since 1972, I have viewed with increasing alarm the growing disconnect between the citizenry and the leaders and representatives we elect. I have watched the increased growth and power of a Political Class disconnected from the needs of the citizenry as well as the alarming increase and importance of money in our electoral system. This corruptive influence of money on elections has further isolated the aforementioned political class by allowing a defacto form of two-tier citizenship. One class of the wealthy and corporate citizens who have real influence on government, another, lower class of regular citizens like you and me who have little or no influence on the actions of our government. Over the course of those decades, I have seen the Congress repeatedly try and either fail to enact significant campaign finance reform or have it's efforts frustrated by contrary legal decisions that enshrine that unequal influence on our elections. This view was most recently reinforced by the Supreme Court's activist ruling in their recent decision onCitizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission.
As a result of these actions, I have been forced to conclude that the pernicious influence of money on politics has become a clear and present danger to the functioning of our Constitutional Democratic Republic. I have further been forced to conclude that the elective system we have currently in place no longer provides for Real Representative Government responsive to the needs of the citizenry at large. I have, therefore, long pondered what changes can be made to restore citizen control of and real representation within that government. With the recent Supreme Court decision throwing out over 100 years of legal precedent, I do not see Public financing of elections as a credible path to reform. It is time to consider radical solutions to this problem. Since the acknowledged intent of the framers was to ensure that representatives to our government would accurately reflect the citizenry at large, what is needed is a mechanism to restore and reinforce that reflection.
My mechanism for reform would abolish all federal elections for legislative and executive offices and replace that mechanism with one based on random computer selection for all current federal elective offices from Internal Revenue tax rolls. All existing Constitutional requirements for office would remain in force. Using myself as an example, as a 56-year-old native-born citizen with no felony convictions from the 2nd Congressional District in New Mexico, I could be selected as the 2nd District Congressman, Senator from New Mexico, Vice President or President. Companion laws would be passed based on existing statutes governing National Guard Service and Jury Duty. The mechanism would work as follows.
As a citizen who files a tax return, my records, along with every other taxpaying citizen, are held by the Internal Revenue Service. Every two years in the case of the House of Representatives, four years in the case of Presidential and Vice-Presidential offices and every six years in the case of Senatorial offices, my name would be put in a pool of likely citizens within my Congressional District, the Nation or my state respectively. If I were chosen for office, I would be allowed a leave-of-absence from my job for my term of office. I would still be paid my regular wage while I served in office and all my expenses incurred doing the government's business in office would be financed by the government. I would serve one two, four or six year term in office. At the end of my term, I would return to private life and my old job as another selectee would take my place. Since selectees would be chosen from IRS rolls, no political party affiliation would be noted or considered. Indeed, for the first decades of the Republic, political parties did not exist as organized entities. There would be no retirement pay or perks given as officeholders get today nor would there be a need for an actual salary for any of those positions as all officeholders would receive their regular wages while in office. Any employee of a corporation would be required to recuse himself from any legislative or executive action benefiting his employer while in office. A companion statute would be enacted allowing lobbying only by citizens within the selectee's district or state to ensure the officeholder's independence and impartiality.
This mechanism would, in one stroke, eliminate the corruptive influence of money on politics, restore real citizen representation in government, provide term limits since only one term in office would be allowed, and foster an increased participation in the political process. Officeholder selection would be taken from the hands of political party organizations and opened up to the citizenry at large. Indeed, mechanisms could be built into the selection process to provide a more accurate reflection of ethnic backgrounds so the Congress would actually contain the same ethnic representation as the citizenry itself. I also see this process as a mechanism to open up state and local offices as well. I use the federal offices as a model that could be transposed into state Constitutions with similar mechanisms and results. With a federal model already in place, that example could be amended into the 50 state constitutions. The actual selection process could be overseen by non-partisan organizations such as the League of Women Voters to prevent any attempted chicanery.
This, then, is the essence of my idea. I offer it to this board and the body politic for comment, question and expansion.