Some people are confused between democracy and republic – they are often used interchangeably. According to my Internet research, a democracy is a system of government in which people have the power to make decisions directly. So citizens vote on every issue and make the decisions themselves. In a democracy, the majority rules, so minority rights are not protected. A republic is a system of government where the citizens elect representatives (president, senators, members of Congress) to make decisions on their behalf. Those elected are responsible for making decisions and laws. Indeed, we are a republic in the U.S., and we elect officials to represent us. This article suggests ways to make our republic more fair, where the people's will is expressed.
Ways to improve the US Republic
No Age Limit in Congress or for our President?
For example, consider Senators Mitch McConnell, Diane Feinstein, and Chuck Grassley. Why are there no age limits for Congress? Diane appears to have lost many mental facilities and refuses to resign (I'm not sure she can make that decision). Is she addicted to power? A few weeks ago, the Senator from Kentucky, Mitch, seemed to suffer a minor stroke. Later that week, he appeared in his home state to show his supporters he was mentally fit. Weeks later, he appeared to suffer another minor stroke during a press conference. What's going on? Chuck Grassley will be 90 this month -- the Senator from Iowa. He's been a Senator for about 42 years. What is he doing? Why does he stay in power so long? Is it because of all the pork he brings to his farm State? Also, why do we want to reelect our President, who will be 82 by the time of next year's election? It's time for a new generation of leaders to take their place. This isn't a partisan issue but a practical one.
Indeed, U.S. Presidents can only serve two terms (eight years), so why not apply this to senators too? What about limiting U.S. Senators to two or three six-year terms?
Limit Terms on the Supreme Court?
Moving on to our Supreme Court, why did the Framers not put term limits on Supreme Court justices? Considering only nine justices are at our highest court, we must get a balanced representation of our country. There is sometimes controversy involving approving a Supreme Court justice; so much money involved may influence the court's objectivity. Therefore, why not limit how long each justice can serve? Similar to my proposal regarding U.S. Senators, why not a 15 to 18-year term? A lifetime appointment is not a good idea, especially in today's political climate where the Supreme Court Chief Justice (John Roberts) feels the Justices are above scrutiny from Congress. In addition, considering that a person could be appointed in their 50s and potentially serve for 40 years.
Equal Representation in the Senate
Smaller, less populated states misrepresent the U.S. Senate. I suspect the Framers of the Constitution wanted less populated states to have the same number of senators as the more popular states to have equal representation. However, that was over 200 years ago, and as time passes and things change, the disparity between large and small states today is significantly more acute. In other words, it's an antiquated rule. Digging deeper, five states have a population under one million and 14 states under two million. North and South Dakota have two senators each, and their combined population reaches less than two million.
On the other hand, the most populous state, California, has over 39 million residents. Incredibly, the United States has never addressed this. Moreover, there are 20 states with combined populations less than California's population. So those 20 states have 40 senators, and California remains at two. An objective observer would say this is not a fair and equitable design. Will this ever be addressed? With the current stringent partisanship in Congress, it isn't very likely, but it should be.
Need to Resign From Your Position if Running for President
Governors running for Congress should not be able to change the law while deciding to run for the presidency. See Paul Desantis in Florida. Mr. DeSantis is the Governor of Florida, and there has been speculation early this year that he would try and be nominated as the GOP Presidential nominee in '24. Before officially announcing he was running for president, DeSantis and the Florida legislature changed the law (called "Resign to Run"), stating that he could remain Governor of Florida while he ran for President. If we had a democracy, a referendum could have been done to allow the Florida residents to speak. This is ridiculous -- he could conceivably run for president for well over a year, and, at the time, how is he helping his constituents in the Sunshine State? From Business Insider, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said, "Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to campaign full-time for president, during the Florida legislative session, while collecting a salary and having the taxpayers pick up the costs for his travel and security."
Cognitive Test for Those Members of Congress over 75?
Should members of Congress be required to pass a cognitive test after the age of 75? Shouldn't this also apply to our President and Vice President?
As a general rule, Gerrymandering has been a controversial issue that has been debated for many years. It's a practice of significantly controlling the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one party.
For example 2011, Wisconsin Republicans redrew the state's legislative districts to help their party. In 2012, the new map helped Republicans win 60 of the 99 seats in the State Assembly, although they only received 48.6% of the statewide vote. Is that a representative government?
What can be done to address Gerrymandering? Would independent redistricting commissions work? These commissions are comprised of nonpartisan experts who draw district lines based on objective criteria such as population, geography, and community boundaries.
Another alternative is party-list proportional representation. In this scenario, voters would vote based on a political party rather than an individual candidate. Each party would receive proportional seats based on the number of votes received. Some countries, including Germany, New Zealand, and Israel, use proportional representation.
Comparable Health Care for All?
With excellent benefits for Congress people, shouldn't they only receive this good health care if all Americans have access? If Congress represents the people, shouldn't they look out for their constituents before they become self-serving?
Why does Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina get the first Presidential Primaries?
Iowa has held its primaries since the 1920s, and New Hampshire was added in the 1950s. In 1980, South Carolina was added. Knowing that the primary order is not set by law but by tradition and party rules. Even if something is tradition, we don't necessarily need to follow that tradition.
Iowa and New Hampshire, a small number of those states, get to know all viable candidates early in the process. Conversely, there appears to be too much influence that a small group of voters have on this process. It also may give an advantage to candidates who do well, even if these states don't represent the country overall.
Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine.
In 1949 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was influential in the U.S. This policy required US-licensed radio and television broadcasters to present fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues in their communities. Some opponents of the Fairness Doctrines felt that the equal airtime requirement infringed on the right to free speech. In 1987, the Reagan Administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine, stating it violated free speech. They also claimed its obsolescence was due to technological advances such as cable television and satellite broadcasting. This led to a proliferation of talk radio shows that were often partisan and driven by ideology. This repeal has helped contribute to the polarization of American politics by allowing media companies to present one-sided views without fear of legal action. All media companies must be accountable for what is broadcast on TV and radio. This should apply to cable, satellite, and streaming TV.
Abolish Citizen's United. Corporations are not People
2010 the U.S. Supreme Court made significant rules in Citizen's United vs. Federal Election Commission. The Court said the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. Therefore, corporations and unions have the same right to free speech as individuals, so the government can't limit their ability to spend money on political campaigns. This ruling is confusing as corporations are not considered natural persons and don't have the same rights as running for office or the right to vote. Even though corporations must disclose the amount contributed (through the Federal Election Commission), this ruling could give corporations too much power in the political process. The campaign finance needs a major haul as there's too much money in politics, and often, the highest bidder gets the most influence.
North Carolina Constitution Needs Amending
The North Carolina Constitution needs amending to require standing for election if a duly elected candidate decides to jump from one party to another after accepting donations and votes from supporters (in this situation, switching from a Democrat to a Republican). This Amendment should apply regardless of party. The only option currently is that future voter turnout will be galvanized to punish that party's action.
Abolish the Electoral College in the U.S.
The United States uses a system to elect the president and vice president, the Electoral College. Each state receives a certain amount of electors based on its population. The candidate with the most votes in a given state gets the state's electoral votes. Whoever has the most after the election is declared the winner, regardless of the amount of individual ballots received.
One argument favoring the Electoral College is that it ensures that candidates must appeal to voters nationwide rather than just in heavily populated areas. However, presidential candidates typically focus on states where they have a significant chance of gaining all the state's Electoral College votes. In other words, current candidates will primarily concentrate on States such as Florida, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona. Even if there are ten states where candidates will focus, that generally leaves out 40 states. By abolishing the E.C., future elections would rarely have any state recounts because a difference of a few hundred or a thousand votes in a particular state would generally not come into question (with how the Electoral College is designed, recounts are pretty standard in heavily contested states). The E.C. undermines the principle of one person, one vote, and a President can get elected through the E.C. without a mandate. Over the last 23 years, there were two elections where the candidate with the highest vote count lost the election due to the E.C.
Another issue with the E.C. is it gives disproportionate power to less populated states since each state is guaranteed at least three electoral votes regardless of its population. According to Wikipedia, the 2020 population of Wyoming and California is 576,581 and 39,538,189 respectively. For each electoral vote, the number of people in California is 732,189. In Wyoming, the number is 192,284. Therefore, a state like California is significantly underrepresented in this example. According to Jamelle Bouis of the New York Times, Wyoming has 68 times the representation in the Senate as a resident of California, the largest state by population. In fact, a state gets less actual representation in the chamber the more it attracts new residents. If the E.C. is not abolished, at least make the electoral votes for all states more equitable.
In closing, I could also mention the lack of civics-related courses not necessarily taught or stressed at high schools in the United States. This issue may help contribute to the lack of knowledge among many Americans about our government and political process. Ignorance about this process is not a good sign for our country. However, I think I've said enough.