Political offices which don't make laws or policy need to be non-partisan from the outset. Term limits need to be mandatory. Congress and the Presidency should be limited to 12 years. Four 3 year terms for the President; two 6 year terms for the Senate; and six 2 year terms for Representatives. In addition, all federal court positions, including the Supreme Court, should also be capped at 12 years. Citizens United has shown us just how out of touch the Supreme Court is.
We need to push for an end of partisanship. The election playing field should be level. Elections should be open to all individuals regardless of political affiliation. As it is now, Democrats and Republicans are only required to have three or five signatures to get on the ballot. Meanwhile, Independents (the nation's largest political bloc) have to have hundreds of signatures. Same goes for third parties.
Whatever goes for the Democrats and Republicans should go for anyone else running for office. Debates are largely closed to anyone not a Democrat or Republican (particularly at the national level, thanks to the Commission on Presidential Debates, a bipartisan effort to rig the debates and keep out third parties and Independents). That needs to go. We need to hear from all candidates, not just a chosen two.
There needs to be total campaign finance reform, which includes eliminating the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United mistake. Corporations are not "people". They are legal fictions. They are not entitled to the same (or greater) rights as you and me. They do not speak for their employees, customers, or shareholders (who each speak for themselves with their own vote and actions).their "free speech" was more valuable than that of ordinary citizens.
Citizens United all but removed citizens from the election process by making it so expensive that common voters can't either compete with corporate donations or afford to run for office. No wonder Congress is referred to as a "millionaire's club", and the cost to run for a state and local office isn't that far off (the same can be said of the Presidency and Judicial system by the way).
What the Supreme Court did through Citizens United was to create a de facto "political class" of wealthy elites, leaving us as the "debt serfs" instead of the "Citizen Representatives" our Founding Fathers intended.
Term limits reduce lessens corporate influence. It also greatly increases the flow of new ideas and creates a closer connection between the voters and the elected. Term limits also reduce the possibilities of corruption. Rank Choice Voting is something we need to seriously consider. It allows us to rank candidates without reference to a party. Where Rank Choice Voting has been tried, it's been shown to work. The highest ranked candidate wins. It doesn't get any more fair than that.
The public should control the purse strings. If we've learned anything about politics , it's that politicians can't be trusted with money, especially ours! Any proposed increase in taxes, fees, rates, or salaries of public officials, should be placed on the ballot and voted on by the public. It's our money and it should be our decision.I'll tell you what I was told.
As one senior Kentucky "Blue Dog" Democrat state senator once told me, "voters aren't smart enough to know what they what", which I strongly disagree with. I think we know exactly what we want, and I think that given balanced and accurate information on an issue, voters make pretty good decisions. The fear of professional politicians is being bypassed and losing their power and influence.
By the way, that "Blue Dog" Democrat also happened to be drawing two pensions, one private and one public (we call that "double dipping"). He also sat on two Election and Constitutional Amendment committees as well as host of financial committees. Think he had a vested interest in opposing voter referendums?
Any referendum would have put on a ballot, be it local or statewide, would be the result of a petition signed by registered voters after first being reviewed by either the County/City attorney general or the State Attorney General to ensure its legality and is properly worded to avoid any ambiguities or misunderstandings. The appropriate attorney general would also provide a public notice of the issue to be voted on that is free from partisan wording and is in easy to understand language.
If Citizens United can be viewed as "free speech" for corporations and the wealthy, then term limits, citizen ballot initiatives, and voter control of the purse strings are too! By the same token, prohibiting these things can and should be considered stifling the public's free speech.
In our "winner-take-all" political system and thanks to gerrymandering and in the absence of term limits, the winning party controls that seat for the next two, four, or six years (depending on the office). Only legislation which supports their particular point of view is supported.
Meanwhile, those who's candidate or party lost receive nothing or close to it in terms of representation. If you're a Democrat and the Republican wins, you're out of luck when it comes to being represented. Your interests are rarely if ever, considered. In a "winner-take-all" political system, the losing side is literally without a political voice. Talk about taxation without representation!
Of course, we have to take a deeper look here. Both main parties, the Democrats and Republicans, don't actually represent common voters on the Left, Right, or Middle. They represent the interests of corporate cliques financing either side of the political divide. One might even say that they are above the artificial political divide whose sole aim is to keep us on opposing sides. The last thing they want is us united.
It's about power to control wealth and wealth to control of power. Their lobbyists quite literally write the legislation which they then shepherd through the various committees with each adding earmarks or "pork" as the price of their signature (as an aside, Congress voted to make "pork" illegal in 2011, although it routinely ignores its own law).
Ultimately if enough (and the right) palms are greased, the bill, written for their benefit, becomes law. Your interests doesn't actually come into play. If it does by pure happenstance, it's immediately heralded as a "victory for the people". Yeah, right.
Personally, I think politicians should renounce their political affiliation and take an oath that they will represent the best interest of all the voters in their district as I stated earlier. Until political parties (defacto extensions of special interest cliques) are eliminated, that's the best and only prospect of all the voters having a voice.
If we want change; really want it, we will have to make it happen. We are the only ones who can. Those in power have historically never willingly surrendered it. They've fought to keep it. They've imposed it. They've camouflaged it. They've traded one hand for the other, but they've never willingly given it up.
Most of us have been convinced by the establishment media that there is nothing we can do, so we sit back and do nothing. Bread and circuses. The truth is that we can do something---term limits, Rank Choice Voting, end gerrymandering, end Citizens United, enact referendums and voter initiatives, equal ballot access, and ending "winner-take-all" elections to name just a few.
We ultimately have the real power through our willingness to express our voice and our vote. We had it all along, but many of us have been intimidated into silence. Our Founding Fathers were too, by the greatest and most powerful empire on the planet, but they found their voice and courage. Now, so can you.