I thought it might be time to open a discussion on this topic.
Since I can remember being aware of politics, my understanding of its chief pitfall involved the issue that every four years, or however long, depending on the position/country/system involved, people whose jobs were supposed to be governing were sidetracked by needing to get re-elected. This would be fine, except that it seemed, in every case, that what was talked about on the campaign trail was divorced, not only from the day-to-day realities of those running for office and the issues of the constituency, but from reality as a whole.
So how do we get to a system where those responsible for governance can be held to account for not governing?
I really like the ranked ballot system that was tried in Maine recently. I don't know how popular this sentiment will be, but I really dislike the style of proportional representation and representative government we have. Rather than voting for the lowest-level of representation in my riding and having that count as a vote for the party's leader, I would like to be able to vote up and down the ballot as I see fit, across party lines. I don't hold a party affiliation. I don't think I should be forced to have one in this way.
I want to be able to vote for a Green Party candidate as my MP, but be able to also vote for a Liberal Prime Minister. I want to be able to vote for a Green Party MPP, but vote for an NDP Premier (hell, I'd vote for a liberal premier again, so long as Ontario's Trump gets dumped).
Most of all, though, I want to start taking the wind out of the party system's sails. Partisanship has already almost paralysed our neighbour to the south, and it seems like the multi-party systems of European nations aren't designed to work without levels of collaboration that would seem obscene to western sensibilities, even in Canada (look at the reaction to the most recent BC government's election, an NDP government "propped up" by a Green Party coalition).
I think candidates should be forced to stand alone. I think there should be hard spending caps on campaigns, to decrease the impact of wealthy donors. To that end, I would prefer to see no companies or industries be allowed to donate to political campaigns, and strict enforcement of dollar-amount donation caps.
On that note, whose brilliant idea was lobbying, really? How would the face of government change around the world if governments wouldn't decide policy based upon the bribes being handed out?
Also, I would like to see mandatory debates held, with refusal to comply resulting in ejection from an election. I also think that mud-slinging should be grounds for the equivalent of a "conduct unbecoming" charge, with a penalty of summary dismissal. I think that interruptions and raising one's voice in debate should be governed by a three-strike rule.
In short, it should no longer be acceptable to treat the opposition as the enemy. Perfect civility should be the absolute worst we should see, on and off the political stage.
I think that if politicians can't comport themselves according to the Permies.com publishing standards, they have no business in that line of work.
Elections should be boring. Really boring. Political service should be seen in the same light as jury duty. I think politicians should be reimbursed well-enough that they aren't subjecting themselves or their families to hardship, and it should be well-paying enough that you don't need to be independently wealthy to run for and/or hold office, and enough to keep corruption out of it, enough to attract talent good enough for the job.
I'd really like to see no more billionaires, even the self-deluded several-times bankrupt variety, no trust-fund heirs or heiresses, though I am still a fan of Justin Trudeau, no bigots and no criminals. Again, conduct should count.
Also, and I know this won't be the most popular of opinions, to my mind, there's a bit of cognitive dissonance concerning the fact that the people deciding policy and steering the course for the future are old enough that they don't see the consequences of their actions. I don't have an answer here, other than lowering age barriers to politics and replacing them with barriers to which the keys would be excellence, though at this point I would settle for competence.
I would love some opinions. How do we get there? What other problems exist with current systems that I haven't mentioned? What problems might exist with a system such as I have described?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
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