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by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
My primary Writing.com blog.
#1034434 added June 29, 2022 at 3:39am
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Fantasy Government

Like a lot of people, I've been experiencing a lot of grief, anger, and frustration at what's been going on in our country over the last couple of weeks. And not just the wildly hypocritical decisions coming out of the increasingly politicized Supreme Court (we can tell state legislatures that they can't regulate guns but who are we to say that they can't regulate abortion?), but the fact that it seems like both sides of the aisle in state and federal governments seem oblivious to what everyday people are going through. One of our political parties seems to be increasingly hostile to generational concerns like income inequality and climate change and social justice, while the other seems to be weak and ineffectual whenever they do have the opportunity to make progress.

I'm disillusioned with the system, but there has already been plenty of writing about current events. And as a financially comfortable white male in a progressive state, my opinions and perspectives aren't one that we need to be listening to right now. But I'm a writer, and the way I process the world around me is to write. So I thought it would be an interesting exercise to spend a little bit of time imagining what an effective system of government might look like. For this exercise, I'm going to take the three-branch governmental structure we currently have and pretend like I have the sole authority to modify it to my heart's content.

If you're so inclined, give my fantasy government a read and let me know what you think!


We'll start with the one that's been the most newsworthy lately. One of the biggest issues I have with the Supreme Court is how politicized it's become. I don't think anyone can seriously make a claim that this is a branch of government free from politics when every single vacancy itself has now become an openly political act. Lists of acceptable nominees by partisan organizations, vacancies held open (or rushed through) depending on which party is in power at the time, televised hearings packed with more drama than Court TV. The courts aren't impartial bodies anymore.

One of the suggestions I really like on how to reform the Supreme Court was to take away the "celebrity" of SCOTUS justices, where so much is determined by the personalty and temperament of the individual justices. We could do that by expanding the Supreme Court (which is not the same thing as court packing, BTW) to include, say, all of the roughly 180 circuit court judges, with nine being "called up" to serve as SCOTUS justices on a decision-by-decision basis. So instead of the same nine people deciding every single legal decision that comes to the highest court, it's instead decided by a larger pool of judges and no one necessarily knows who will get assigned to what case.

I'd also impose term limits on judges. Rather than lifetime appointments, I'd limit them to ten-year terms so that so much doesn't ride on who's in the White House at any given time; the entire judiciary in the above example (or even just the nine justices in SCOTUS' current form) would rotate out on a predicable schedule so every president had the opportunity to appoint the same number of vacancies (barring any deaths or retirements).

I think both components above would have the effect of lowering the temperature on the winner-takes-all approach to nominating justices that we currently have, and all the politics surrounding who gets nominated and when. I think it would bring us back to a closer approximation of what this branch was intended to do, which is to make assessments on the specific legal merits of specific cases.


Term limits here too. I think five terms for the House (ten years total) and two terms max (twelve years total) for the Senate. I get the benefits of experience and wanting good people to stay, but our system has repeatedly shown that it entrenches power and enriches individuals more than anything. If you want to stay in public service, find a new way to do it after a decade.

I would also reform campaign finance so that it's publicly funded. Give each candidate in a race the same amount of money and the same media access, so that elections aren't decided by who can raise and spend the most, and so that elected officials don't have to spend so much of their time raising money for their next election. Let them focus on doing their job rather than keeping their job.

I'd give representation to all major U.S. territories and jurisdictions: DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They're affected by things our legislature does, so they should have a voice in said legislature.

And with regards to the Senate, in particular, I would abolish the filibuster for the simple reason that I don't think the minority party should be able to prevent the majority, on a consistent basis, from enacting legislation. The filibuster has basically ensured that nothing ever gets done and although abolishing it would probably create a pendulum effect with legislation being enacted by one party and repealed by another, let that process play out (and all of its resulting effects on future elections) rather than having a legislature that barely does anything because partisanship means almost never getting 60% of the senators to agree on anything substantive.


Say goodbye to the Electoral College. It served a purpose, for a time, but in this day and age there's no reason why the popular vote shouldn't determine the outcome of an election, especially one as consequential as a Presidential election. If you're running for president and more people vote for you than your opponent, you should win regardless of which state your voters happen to live in.

I would also codify all the norms into law. If the Trump presidency taught us anything, it's just how much of our expectations of the nation's chief executive are not actually a matter of law but just norms and best practices. Pass actual laws and assign criminal penalties to things like destroying presidential records, violating the Hatch Act, the peaceful transition of power, etc.


While I'm playing around with omnipotence, a few other odds and ends:

*Bullet* North Dakota and South Dakota are hereby a single state known simply as "Dakota." The two states combined have fewer people than the city of Phoenix, Arizona; they don't need four senators. In general, I think we need to look at the way our states (and territories, see above) are represented. The idea of an equal number of senators per state was a good idea at the time it was conceived, but I don't think the founding fathers ever imagined we would have a system where states like California (40 million residents) and Texas (30 million residents) have the exact same representation in the Senate as Wyoming (600,000 residents) and Vermont (650,000 residents).

*Bullet* I would be fine with a more conservative-leaning judiciary if we could have a more progressive legislature. The idea of a legislature passing laws and reaching forward and pressing boundaries that are then guided and occasionally reigned in by a judiciary that is looking to temper extremism is a dynamic that would work better for progress as a whole, I think, than a conservative legislature who is trying to restrict progress, and an "activist" judiciary that's rebelling against that. Make laws that are then tempered by legal action, rather than taking legal action to push forward an issue that no one will agree to make a law about.

*Bullet* Get rid of the debt ceiling and invest in this country again. There is very little economic research to support the idea that federal debt works in the same way as a household checkbook (a favorite comparison for many) or even state budget (which has to be balanced every year) works. With the obvious caveat that we shouldn't spend irresponsibly, we're too skittish about spending money in general, especially on things like new technology, infrastructure, education, etc. that will pay dividends later. If the federal deficit increases in the name of making meaningful, noticeable improvements to this country and the lives of its citizens, it's money well spent.

Anyway, that's some random thoughts on things I think might start to improve our system of government and start making it work more in the interests of the people than in the interests of perpetuating the system that's already in power. I'm sure this will be a controversial blog post, so I'm interested to see who agrees, disagrees, and has other thoughts on what they'd like to see happen if they got to hold the omnipotence wand for a while. *Smile*

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