BY PHILIP KOTLER – No democracy is perfect. Some democracies work better than others. Swiss democracy works well. Canada’s democracy works pretty well. American democracy has fallen on hard times.
In 2016, I published Democracy in Decline in which I cite many problems and solutions. We have voter suppression and low voter turnout. We let politicians choose their voters by designing their district. This gerrymandering results in 80-to-90 percent of incumbents being reelected. Candidates need to raise millions of dollars from donors to even run for election. The rich exercise a great influence on who the candidates are and on how many votes they get.
One of the worse features is our two party system where the two parties won’t work with each other. Each party enforces uniform voting by its Congress members. Bipartisanship and compromise are lost. The result is that nothing gets done to improve the country. We don’t solve the problems of the poor, we don’t improve our instructure, we don’t agree what to do about immigrants, and we don’t improve our prison population.
Our democracy depends on having three healthy branches of government: our Congress, our Executive, and our Supreme Court. Our Constitution created a check-and-balance system. It worked well in the past but it is failing us now.
I asked different experts and friends to propose possible improvements in our democracy. They came up with many suggestions. We are aware that all proposals require finer description and analysis. We are aware that many would require Constitutional Amendments. The chance of passing many or any of them is slim.
Here are some proposals for discussion at your next cocktail party. Please suggest further proposals that I overlooked.
The Chief Executive
- No shutdowns of the government are allowed.
- Any candidate for office has to show his/her tax returns, and if elected, must put aside his/her business interests.
- Presidential and vice Presidential candidates need to pass a test on government operations and policies.
- Representatives are elected for three, not two years.
- Representatives are limited to five terms
- Senators are limited to three terms
- Small states with less than 2 million voters can elect only one Senator: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska
- Congress members collect a salary while in office and receive no pay when they are out of office. No Tenure/No Pension
- Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
- Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
- Congress must equally abide by all law they impose on the American people.
- Congress members cannot become lobbyists for five years after leaving Congress.
- Congress participates in Social Security like all citizens.
- Congress must purchase their own retirement plan.
- Supreme Courts Justices are limited to 30 years of service or less if there is mental or health impairment
- Supreme Court justices are selected by the dominant political party from a list of twenty of the most respected and qualified lawyers prepared by the American Bar Association.
- The Electoral College, which eliminated three most popular Presidential candidates in the past, should be eliminated or the “winner take all” be eliminated. The new President should be the candidate who received the most popular votes.
- Political candidates receive public campaign funds. Donor gifts are limited to $1,000 a candidate.
- Elections are limited to run only 30 days.
- Voters pay a fine if they don’t vote.
- Citizens are automatically registered to vote at age 18.
- Voting day is changed to Saturday or Sunday and voting is made easier by voting online.