Friday, November 16, 2012

No Labels is their Label

No Labels:

No Labels is a non-partisan attempt at making our government work better, bringing people of different ideologies together for the United States of America. They suggest 12 ways to make Congress work, from common sense ideas of a work schedule and getting a non-partisan fiscal report, which would be televised. Some other ideas are more creative and interesting which makes the list different with things like question time for the president of the United States, like the Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, or "no budget, no pay". There is even a suggestion of bipartisan social mixers. "Hey! The Dems are having a mixer tonight at the GOP house, you want to come?" Well they might be the next thing up from from fraternity mixers, but some of the games might open these people up to one-another and as our history has shown relationships seem to make political ideology fall to love of country. See: the on-again off-again on-again friendship of presidential team (1797-1801) and twice opponents (1796 and 1800), John Adams and Thomas Jefferson; the 1976 opponents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter; and 1992 opponents George Bush and William Jefferson Clinton.

The odds of these things happening, are like a third party candidate winning a presidential election. These were the kinds of things I think of when I hear the word change, especially in then-Senator Barack Obama's 2008 "Hope and Change" election. As president, he would try to be above politics, but looked like he was letting the opposition walk all over him both in attitude and the "just say no!" take on every issue. He tried, but he could use the office more. Enjoy you're the president and do what Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan did and have members of Congress over for drinks. I'd be having cocktail nights, entertaining it up. Hopefully it'd be in the days where marijuana was legal, bhang chocolates would be served.

But I think of things like this list, so while I enjoyed the list and want to see it fulfilled, I think there are other things missing from my perspective. Here's what I would add:

1. Primary Election Reform: Most would say the Electoral College needs to be repealed, but that would require a Constitutional amendment and turn the large populated areas into the deciding factors in elections. It was created to prevent the big States like New York and Virgina deciding the election over the smaller States during the early republic. Today it would be California and Texas. But we do elect our State Governors by popular vote, so why not use the state model at the federal level. Aren't the States supposed to be the experiment in democracy? But with the exception of four elections (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000), presidents normally win both the popular and electoral votes. It's 2012, so it's a recent political event and fresh like it wasn't before since 1888 was the last time it happened. So, no Electoral College reform, but how the party's nominate the vice presidential candidate.

Since FDR presidential candidates have had a say over the second spot on the ticket versus the party or party bosses. While the vice presidential elected with the president in the general election, he is appointed to the nomination and the party basically gives him (or her) approval without question. So it's not a real vote for the would-be president. The primary election should either have a ranked ballot (first choice, second, third) or rated (vote for more than one and tally the overall votes). Another option is have the primaries contested like the pre-12th Amendment general elections. From 1789-1800, the winner with the most electoral votes was president and the gentlemen in second place became vice president. In 2004, the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, picked John Edwards, the person that came in second, as his running mate. So it's happened, but make that the party rules to get the vice presidential nomination. President Obama chose one of his opponents, but not the candidate with the second most number of votes. You have to go back to 1980, for the last time a Republican did that when Ronald Reagan picked George Bush.

The reason it shouldn't be the presidential candidate's decision, sometimes called the only presidential decision the non-incumbent gets. We get political-choice candidates, instead of governing choice. See: Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin. But also Dick Cheney. Cheney was supposed to find someone for George W. Bush in 2000 and he came to the conclusion he was the right choice for the job. Cheney was right for the job, especially verse Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin. But there's plenty of evidence that he had too much power as he's been described as the most powerful vice president in U.S. history, especially how he got his nomination, let alone the general election.

So if a first place in the primary gets the top of the ticket and the second place gets the bottom of the ticket you have an easy remedy. But there's even the other option, that some of the candidates openly run for vice president. Have a separate ballot for the vice presidential nomination, like some of the lieutenant governors in various states, California is one that elects the governor and lt. governor separately verse a ticket like the president/vice president. Most of the candidates aren't qualified for president (2012 Republican Primary) or don't register with votes unlike other candidates (Obama vs. Biden during the 2008 Democratic Primary, yes Biden had supporters but nowhere near enough to be a real threat to Obama). The only problem these last two options bring is the possibility of a poor working relationship and the president is the one that decides what the vice president does while in office.

2. Share Power with Vice President. The president will still be the most powerful person in the world and the head of government and state for the United States of America, it's just look at the responsibility and stress that ages a man in a single term. Just compare Obama's hair in 2008 vs. 2012. If the way we reform how a vice president gets the nomination, increase his or her's responsibility would seem only natural and elevate fears of being banished to attending funerals, casting tie-votes, and checking the health of the POTUS.

3. President Pro Tempore of the Senate. After the vice president, the next in line of succession is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the vice president, or President of the Senate's counterpart in the lower house of Congress. After the Speaker, the next in line is the President pro tempore, essentially the vice president to the President of the Senate. So when the vice president is absent, the President of the Senate is the pro tempore. Since the 81st Congress, the Senate has elected the senior most member of the party in power. Whereas before the pro tempore was elected to preside when the vice president was absent or the office was vacant, since before the mid-20th Century vice presidents didn't have much else to do but preside over the Senate and keep their mouth shut. The pro tempore should be treated like the Speaker of the House, elected by it's members. Essentially the Senate Majority Leader would be second in the upper house's leadership under the pro tempore. Give him or her similar powers as the Speaker, since the job comes with better pay and place in the line of succession. It shouldn't be for the senior member, who might not be ready for prime-time aka presidential readiness.

4. Regional Primaries. The States of the various regions should settle on a date for primary elections, which would save the sanity of the candidates and the voters. The States would still run their own elections, just coordinate the election day.

5. Simple Majority. The Senate needs to return to abiding by the "simple majority" rule to pass legislation in the upper chamber. For too long, in a 100 member Senate, 60 votes is needed to accomplish anything. The reason it is 60 instead of 51 votes, is because it takes 60 votes to end debate, which is known as cloture.

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