2. Improve Representation
When the United States was created, the Founding Fathers agreed that members of theHouse of Representatives should serve no more than 30,000 of the four million or so
citizens of the country, resulting in 105 members of the House. The number of Representatives increased with the population until Congress limited the number to 435in 1929. By 2000, the US population had grown to about 281 million, so there was onerepresentative for 647,000 constituents. But representation varies by state. Wyoming andRhode Island have about 525,000 constituents per representative while Utah and Montanahave over 900,000 constituents per representative.One way to minimize this unequal and ineffective representation is to give
ach State one
(rather than one Representative) in the House of Representatives for every 30,000 of population. Of course, the improved representation would come at a price. With twentytimes more representatives to provide for, States would have to be creative inadministering their governments. They could send just a few of their Representatives toWashington at a time, having the remaining Representatives telework instead. Statescould economize by combining the jobs of State and Federal Representatives. The extraworkload could be accommodated by adding non-elected support staff. Furthermore,States should pay the salaries of their Representatives and their staffs, and be free to setthe salaries, as well as link the
salaries to performance, the State’s ec
onomy, or otherrelevant factors, as in the private sector. As the cost burden shifts from the Federalgovernment to the States, Federal income taxes could be reduced, and States couldimplement taxation measures they deem to be more appropriate for funding government.
3. Create Unbiased Election Districts
It’s no sec
ret that politicians stay in power, and kick opponents out of office, byredistricting. Gerrymandering is a concept known even to high school students. But thearcane art of politicians drawing district boundaries should be relegated to history books.Really! Sophisticated GIS (geographic information system) software is readily availableas are mathematical algorithms for partitioning spatially dependent data.
Isn’t it about
time we bring elections into the 21
4. Make Sure Candidates Are Qualified
When you apply for a job, you have to prove you’re
qualified. You might need a degree
or a certification, or have to pass a test, but you have to prove you’re qualified just to get
an interview. Appointed Federal officials, like judges and agency heads, have to passCongressional confirmation, so why shou
ldn’t candidates for elected Federal offices also
go through some screening process?As part of the requirements of filing to run for an office, candidate qualifications shouldbe screened to safeguard voters from ignorance, incompetence, instability, or immorality.For example, candidates need to know the Constitution.
Perhaps a candidate’s knowledge
of civics could be evaluated with the tests given to immigrants seeking citizenship.Psychological tests and security checks might follow those given to FBI and other lawenforcement agents. Financial audits might be similar to those required of IRSemployees. Drug testing would also be prudent, at least as long as the war on drugs