Shorter Elections + Instant Impeachment = Better Government

An interesting thought popped into my head, and I wanted to sketch it out here and see what folks think. It is a simple plan that can be expressed as an equation:

Shorter Elections + Instant Impeachment = Better Government

polotek99 wrote a bit about why he hates politics. He goes on to discuss the problems with holding job interviews for the office of the Presidency. The thing is, in any business this is a huge problem. You don’t want to hire someone who turns out to be completely ignorant and unskilled in their area of supposed expertise. Sometimes you just have to fire someone (ideally quickly once determining they essentially lied during their interview). Why can’t we do the same thing with our Presidential elections?

The first obstacle is how long election cycles are. If we did away with state-by-state primaries based on delegates and replaced it with a month-long national popular vote primary, followed by a month long national popular vote driven general election, I think we’d be in business. Then if we could have some threshold for impeaching members of the Legislative and executive branch (say a certain percentage of the populace in every state for the executive, or within each state for their state and federal officials and representatives), we could allow for trial periods for new politicians.

The biggest bottleneck is the speed with which voting occurs, and this is a direct function of our ability to trust our votes. Right now, we don’t. Shift to a new, faster system and that cynicism will explode. We need a way to establish fast and verifiable voting systems.

From there we could build on even more innovations. We can hire consultants with contracts stipulating deliverables. Why not politicians? Why can’t we elect say, a Senator, and put in writing that they must pass a certain law or show demonstrable progress towards same? Or even just clauses that compel the elected official to refrain from undesirable activities like supporting the war, breaking party ranks too often, or any other criteria citizens for a particular state wish to impose?

We often lose site of this, be we, citizens, we are the boss. Our elected officials have been taking our pay and only working on what they want to work on. Its time to change that. This might be a start.


6 Responses

  1. The flaws of our system are many. Your concept is solid but the reality is improbable at this point. We can’t even get drawn out accountability never mind retribution or even redress. If instantaneous consequences were in practice the rest of the system would fall into place nicely I think.

    Not every 4 years, every day, participate in your local elections!!!

    [EDITED: Added “http://” to href to make link valid.]

  2. Perhaps you could edit that “flaws” link to for me and then delete this comment?


  3. If we had good e-voting, I’d love to have a continuous feedback process. We could all play the “democracy” MMORPG. I could get on my computer every day and see what my local representatives have been up to, and start a petition to give them the boot if necessary.

  4. Why have primaries? Why not just have one popular vote, winner take all?

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  5. The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President arises from the winner-take-all rule (currently used by 48 of 50 states) under which all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state. Presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Instead, candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states, with 88% of the money and visits being focused on just 9 states. Fully 99% of the money goes to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people are merely spectators to the presidential election.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). Every vote would be equal throughout the United States and every vote would be politically relevant. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill is enacted by states possessing 270 or more electoral votes, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The National Popular Vote bill has 419 legislative sponsors in 47 states. It has been signed into law in Maryland and New Jersey. Since its introduction in February 2006, the bill has passed by 15 legislative houses (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Vermont, and Washington, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, and California).


  6. People have busy lives. We’re already trying to squeeze more hours into the day. For me, the purpose of government is to take care of things so I don’t have to pay attention. The problem is that they’re off on their own agenda.

    Maybe government actions are based on a prioritized list of issues to address. The items on the list can be submitted by the elected officials or maybe by the public at large. People should be able to access a brief or a more detailed summary of the issue and then vote on it’s importance. That’s the way various topics are given precedence.

    And the elected officials would have to show progress on these issues. If not, you’re not doing your job. You’re out.

    How that progress is shown and evaluated is a questions we’d have to answer as well. I got nothing on that right now.

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