In short, he believes that political parties are the root of our problems. Most of his suggestions seek to limit the power of political parties.
Here are his suggestions:
- Break the power of partisans to keep candidates off the general-election ballot.
- Turn over the process of redrawing congressional districts to independent, nonpartisan commissions.
- Allow members of any party to offer amendments to any House bill and—with rare exceptions—put those amendments to a vote.
- Change the leadership structure of congressional committees.
- Fill committee vacancies by lot.
- Choose committee staff solely on the basis of professional qualifications.
It’s shocking to me that someone could have been in Congress for so long and not see why these are stupid suggestions. Here are my responses:
1: He would suggest open primaries. I don’t see how this solves any problems. In most elections, nothing would change. Only people that care a lot vote, and they tend to be rabid partisans. In other elections, you might get more moderate politicians, but so what? Moderate politicians are the worst.
2: There is no such thing as an independent, nonpartisan commission. This should be incredibly obvious.
3: This would expand the power of the bureaucracy. Members don’t write amendments, bureaucrats and interest groups do. Giving these groups less power should be the goal.
4: The idea here is to make the committee process more “deliberative.” No Congressional committee meeting has ever – ever – changed a Congressman’s vote. “Deliberate” is DC speak for “grandstanding.” There are very few things Washington needs less than more opportunity for grandstanding.
5: This isn’t as bad an idea as the others, but the parties will never vote to decrease their own power in this way. In that sense, it might be the most out-of-touch suggestion in the list.
6: See 2