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?




da Vinici’s Resume

Resume as seen here

“My Most Illustrious Lord,

Having now sufficiently seen and considered the achievements of all those who count themselves masters and artificers of instruments of war, and having noted that the invention and performance of the said instruments is in no way different from that in common usage, I shall endeavour, while intending no discredit to anyone else, to make myself understood to Your Excellency for the purpose of unfolding to you my secrets, and thereafter offering them at your complete disposal, and when the time is right bringing into effective operation all those things which are in part briefly listed below:

1. I have plans for very light, strong and easily portable bridges with which to pursue and, on some occasions, flee the enemy, and others, sturdy and indestructible either by fire or in battle, easy and convenient to lift and place in position. Also means of burning and destroying those of the enemy.

2. I know how, in the course of the siege of a terrain, to remove water from the moats and how to make an infinite number of bridges, mantlets and scaling ladders and other instruments necessary to such an enterprise.

3. Also, if one cannot, when besieging a terrain, proceed by bombardment either because of the height of the glacis or the strength of its situation and location, I have methods for destroying every fortress or other stranglehold unless it has been founded upon a rock or so forth.

4. I have also types of cannon, most convenient and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon will instil a great fear in the enemy on account of the grave damage and confusion.

5. Also, I have means of arriving at a designated spot through mines and secret winding passages constructed completely without noise, even if it should be necessary to pass underneath moats or any river.

6. Also, I will make covered vehicles, safe and unassailable, which will penetrate the enemy and their artillery, and there is no host of armed men so great that they would not break through it. And behind these the infantry will be able to follow, quite uninjured and unimpeded.

7. Also, should the need arise, I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance of very beautiful and functional design that are quite out of the ordinary.

8. Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I will assemble catapults, mangonels, trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful efficiency not in general use. In short, as the variety of circumstances dictate, I will make an infinite number of items for attack and defence.

9. And should a sea battle be occasioned, I have examples of many instruments which are highly suitable either in attack or defence, and craft which will resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon and powder and smoke.

10. In time of peace I believe I can give as complete satisfaction as any other in the field of architecture, and the construction of both public and private buildings, and in conducting water from one place to another.

Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be.

Moreover, work could be undertaken on the bronze horse which will be to the immortal glory and eternal honour of the auspicious memory of His Lordship your father, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

And if any of the above-mentioned things seem impossible or impracticable to anyone, I am most readily disposed to demonstrate them in your park or in whatsoever place shall please Your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.”