Ideologue Amendments

Vox has a pretty good article on the schisms and breakpoints in American democracy: American Democracy is Doomed.

The article in Vox suggests that the current system is flawed. I’d argue the system is not flawed but the people in it are. Specifically, I target gerrymandering as an origin-point. What’s gerrymandering you say?

Studies have shown that when like-minded groups of people get together (say crammed into a voting district that is majority one-party) they tend to deviate towards the extreme. After all, the only way you can “prove” yourself is to be more extreme than the other guy. Thus, we end up with elected ideologues in government, particularly in Congress.

As a political scientist I found the reading to be a timely topic. I had read The Broken Branch by Mann and Orstein (a pair of polly-sci guys) and found their argument to be favorable. Congress is broken and needs to be fixed by fixing how ideologues get elected.

As a follow-up, This is How American Government Will Die explains that we will end-up with some sort of benevolent/elected dictator in about 50 years if we are unable to change. I can see the allure of a Cincinnatus like-figure taking over in support of the Common Good. I would tend to agree, though, a dictatorship, even an elected one, is one dictator too many.

I think what we need to consider are one of two possibilities:

A. An entire re-write of the Constitution. Most countries  (and states!) re-write their Constitutions every couple years. France has had five and my state of Virginia has had seven since 1776. America is the exception rather than the rule.

B. Add new amendments. We added amendments to counter the power of Big Business (think your Progressive Era amendments: 16, 17, 18, 19). Perhaps we need new amendments to counter the power from ideologues. I’d start with:

28th. An anti-Gerrymandering Amendment to ban it. In doing so, I’d consider having the House of Representatives ignore state boundaries when creating districts. An idea James Wilson originally had the convention.

29th. Federal Elections must be financed publicly using public-monies. Our current mess of electoral finance results in Congresspersons beholden to the wrong kind of special interests. Congresspersons essentially are “tin-pot dictators” who are able to get elected by throwing around enough money and then passing laws based who donated the most rather than the common good.

30th. Make Federal Election voting mandatory. 50% turnout makes governing difficult. By law, Congress could make Voting Day a paid national holiday.

What other amendments would you add?




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