Three ideas I've had for improving the function of the government.
I've mentioned twice before my idea that Presidents and Congresspeople
should be forced to put up a percentage of their net worth at the
beginning of their candidacy, and tie it to goals they have and make
them publicly available. For example, say the requirement were 20%,
Barack Obama could choose to tie 7% to getting us out of Iraq within 3
years, 5% to a vote on healthcare reform including a public option, 5%
to a vote on climate change that increases funding to solar and wind
research by 50% and 3% to a vote and passage of financial regulation.
Whatever he achieves, he gets the money back, and whatever he doesn't,
he doesn't. He'd announce these percentages during the primary with
Hillary so people can actually look at priorities instead of charisma.
The percentage would have to be different for the house, senate and
presidency, certainly, but the concept is the same.
This system would make it very easy to determine a candidate's
priorities and how seriously they're willing to engage with them.
You'd get more altruistic people running.
Another idea would be to ban reelection in the house of
representatives. The senate can be the "experienced" branch, but the
house can be a branch where populism, special interests, and public
preening for reelection are eliminated by not allowing reelection. The
short term ensures that no congressperson can just take over and be
unaccountable to anyone. Combining the X% of net worth idea above also
ensures they do what they said they will.
Finally, why not mandate campaign finance contributions be sealed and
anonymous? Lobbyists become far less powerful when they can't credibly
show they donated. If contributions are limited, and the candidate is
not aware of who donated to him or her and sees donations only in
aggregate, it would reduce the power of lobbyists