January 27, 2017

The real national tragedy? The #duopoly

The real United States of America’s national tragedy of Nov. 8, 2016, is NOT the election of Donald J. Trump as president.

The national tragedy is ultimately the American electoral system, and above all, the American presidential election system, that pushes America more than any other democracy in the world toward a two-party system. The two mainstream parties then foist on us a craptacular, but inspiring in some ways, candidate in Trump, and a weak, and uninspiring, candidate in Clinton.

Were I to try to amend the body of the US Constitution, which BADLY needs it, if not being thrown out, it would be:

1. Increasing the size of the House by 50 percent, with the additional members elected off a national list (I would also, outside the constitutional issue, increase single-member districts to 500, then the 50 percent addition);
2. Ditto for the Senate, and I believe using a national list would survive the constitutional issue of not depriving a state of its equal vote without its consent;
3. Banning the Senate from amending money bills (this was actually in earlier versions of the Constitution);
4. Changing terms to three years for House members and one-half the Senate every three years rather than one-third every two years, to get us away from the permanent campaign.
5. Changing the presidency to a three-year term with three terms, not two. This “alignment” would move us toward semi-parliamentary government;
6. Placing term limits on judges. A total of 30 years of service, and no more than 18 at one level (ie, district, appellate or Supreme Court).

For more on what’s wrong with the Constitution, and why it’s wrong, I strongly recommend “The Frozen Republic,” per my Goodreads review.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A must-read laundry list of how anachronistic the US Constitution really is, and why, with Lazare making a strong argument for junking the whole thing (not counting the amendments that give us our rights) and starting over ... with an eye to a non checks-and-balances gridlock parliamentary government instead of our current nonsense.

This is a book I have re-read more than once.

And, in what is arguably a bit of serendipitous timing, Lazare starts the book with a threat of secession by the state of California, in conjunction with the 2020 election.

Beyond this, readers should look for other books about the realities of the Constitutional Convention. Sheldon Wolin is one good one.


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