Scrap It and Start Over: Part 4 – Everything Else

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This is part 4 of a 4-part series exploring what is wrong with the United States’ government. Part 1Part 2, Part 3

If you’ve read parts 1, 2, and 3, you can probably guess the issues I’m talking about go beyond the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Presidency. For example, to make those kinds of changes, the Constitution’s got to go. In other words, we’ll be building from the ground up. So, what else has to go and what do we replace it with?

For starters, assuming we don’t switch to a lottery system, almost everything about voting has to change. Yes, it should be easy and accessible for everyone to vote. That might mean making election day a holiday. It might mean extended voting periods. It might even mean online voting. But, more importantly, we have to change the culture of voting. It should not be looked at as a right to be exercised if you feel like it. Voting should be a duty. The goal is to get everybody to vote in every election. This would probably mean making voting mandatory by law. Anyone who doesn’t vote has to pay a fine or do community service. Only then will elections actually show the will of the people.

Border control should be unnecessary in our new system. Anyone who wants to be here should come on over. And becoming a citizen should be easy and quick. No refugee should ever be turned away. People will probably insist on some kind of checks on the people entering, but they should be minimal. Making sure they aren’t serial killers fleeing justice and things like that is more than enough.

Police and prisons are ripe for scrapping. Part of me wants to say that after they’ve been scrapped, we don’t even need to start over, but some kind of law enforcement is probably necessary. For the police, their equipment should be strictly nonlethal. And their demographics should accurately match the demographics of the people they are policing. Arrest should be a last resort. The goal should be to defuse situations and get people the help they need. As for prisons, they should be vanishingly rare. The goal is to help people. The only case for imprisonment is if someone is a legitimate danger to the people around them. And even then, other interventions will probably work better. Plato taught us that nothing can be just that makes someone worse. That should be kept in mind at all times.

Finally, and this will be controversial, we need to get rid of our focus on rights. The Enlightenment was a long time ago and rights are outdated. I can’t fully explain it here, but rights are nothing more than a construct designed to guarantee a freedom or prevent a wrong. Unfortunately, they don’t do either very well as the Supreme Court has amply demonstrated this term. Rights are intermediaries and open to interpretation. There are certain things that are so important they should be added to the very structure of the society like clean air, clean water, food, shelter, healthcare, and clothing. Everything else will be taken care of by a responsive government.

That’s really what I want with all of this, a responsive government. One that responds to the people, the real people, not just the rich and powerful people. A historian would have to answer the question of whether the US ever had a responsive government, but I know we haven’t in my lifetime. What do you think? Did I miss anything that needs scrapping? Any other ideas for starting over? I’d love to know.

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