By Chris Kok
Published February 20th 2007 in Daily Kent Stater
I spend most of my time and words in the Stater criticizing policies, politics and politicians. I usually put my own twist on various arguments that have already been made. So, it is time that I try to put forth an original, constructive idea.
Here is a concept for the government that, to my knowledge, is original. I'm not sure I would want this government, but it is something to think about.
This government would be federal, with national, state and local levels. Representatives at each level should be elected on the basis of proportional representation. This means you could vote for specific parties, but not specific people, and that each party would receive representation in proportion to the amount of votes it received.
Thus, if 10 percent of people voted for the Socialist Party, 10 percent of the seats would go to the Socialist Party. Each party would be required to put forth a list of candidates. Those at the top of the list would be the first to receive seats. This system, which is already used in other countries, would open politics to more than just two dominant parties.
The media should be required to air the view points of the various parties roughly in proportion to their support in society.
The job of the representatives should be to draft laws, but not to vote on them. Each section of the law would have the names of the representatives in favor alongside it. The enactment of the laws should be up to a democratic vote of the people. Thus Congress would draft the laws, but only the people could make the drafts into law.
Voting on most issues should be at a 50 percent plus 1 margin, except for cases such as constitutional amendments which could be at 66 percent plus 1.
There should also be a minimum percentage of voter participation required for a law to be enacted. At the local level, 33 percent of voters should have to vote. At the state level, it should be 50 percent, and at the federal level, it should be 75 percent. Thus the localities would have much more power than the federal government. Also, because it is easier to organize support for local issues than on national issues, there shouldn't be as high of a standard for enacting laws locally.
The Bill of Rights and other amendments should be included in the Constitution to ensure that people's rights are protected at the federal level.
So, what effect would this have on politics?
First of all, rules would be written much simpler. Try reading the Patriot Act. It is nearly impossible to read. If voters had to vote on every rule, those that are too confusing would probably not pass.
Second, only important laws would pass. If a law failed to get the required turnout, it would signify that the law wasn't important enough to enact.
Third, loopholes for powerful corporations would not be likely to pass because the people would vote for them, rather than politicians acting in the dark halls of Congress.
This is an incomplete idea; it deals solely with the legislative branch, and not judicial or executive branches, but I hope it provokes some thought.
Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.