THE BLOG

Abolish It and Replace It With What?

03/11/2013 10:25 am ET | Updated May 11, 2013
  • C. Robert Gibson Independent journalist published in Guardian, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera America, NPR, and other publications

Computers are made to work for us and do things we need done, and must be constantly updated to adjust to the constant stream of new data. But if you have a blown motherboard, it doesn't matter what software or programs you try to update, because the computer won't work until you get a new motherboard. The framers of the United States envisioned its government as one to be constantly updated, and included mechanisms to do so. Our government of today is like a computer in bad need of updating whose motherboard has been blown for decades.

The last piece I wrote explained why it's our right to abolish this current government if it is no longer capable of serving the needs of the people. This right is clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence, a founding document principally authored by Thomas Jefferson, our third president. But even those who sympathize with that argument are asking, "What comes next?" I honestly don't know yet, and that's for all of us to decide together between now and the time we use the right to revolution given to us by the framers of our government. But I have a good idea.

We need proportional representation, or one member of Congress for a district not exceeding 30,000 people, as the framers envisioned. This would mean we have a Congress of 10,515 members in a population of 315,456,282. A computer could re-draw districts by population with a maximum of 30,000 people per district for a new national, unicameral legislature. This automatic re-drawing of districts would take place every ten years, after each new census.

Governing wouldn't be a year-round job. Rather, just as states convene annual legislative sessions for three to five months, this new national legislature would convene for four months a year, in a new major city every year, and be paid a modest salary of $10,000 per session rather than the outrageous $170,000 that our current Congress makes for only 126 days of work per year. Lobbying would be outlawed, and political parties would be eliminated. Public financing would be provided for all candidates that meet the requirements to run. All candidates qualified to run would be given equal time on our publicly-owned airwaves. There would be a one-term limit of four years, with no chance for reelection. That way, members are focused on accomplishing legislative goals and not on political posturing. The members would then elect a speaker, and chairpersons for each committee. The speaker and committee chairs could serve as a one-time, four-year executive council that would serve as the new executive branch of government.

Imagine how much more our government would accomplish if it truly represented constituents, if it was unable to be bribed by private special interest lobbyists, if members were unable to run for reelection, if private money was prohibited from the campaign process. We would soon bring the wars to an end and have free universal health care and education. We would bring bankers to justice, invest heavily in organic farming and ban GMOs, build a national high-speed rail network that would make highway travel obsolete and create millions of new jobs. We would pass a carbon tax on big polluters that would in turn fund national infrastructure for a clean, green energy grid making the use of fossil fuels obsolete. We would have a truly progressive tax system that would eliminate the loopholes used by corporations and the super-rich to avoid paying their fair share. We would ban harmful practices like offshore oil drilling, mountaintop removal mining and fracking.

All of these things would likely happen in just the first session of the new national legislature, since members are unable to be bought off by war profiteers, big oil, big banks, big health insurance, big coal, or big agriculture. The only voices allowed inside a national legislative session would be those of constituents, who would be able to directly voice their concerns to their legislators electronically while watching a livestream of the proceedings. Governing and legislating would become suddenly unburdened by the special interests that hold our current government hostage, and be made completely transparent. And if a district disapproves of the job their member of Congress is doing, they're free to elect a new member of Congress for the following session without an incumbency protection racket or gerrymandering schemes that currently prevent people from throwing an unpopular member of Congress out electorally.

This is just my proposal. In the time to come, people will undoubtedly present their ideas for a new government, and those proposals should be heard and respectfully debated by all participating in this coming revolution. Most importantly, we all must be willing to compromise and know full well that neither of us will get our way 100 percent of the time. But whatever system the people decide on and devise should become our new official system of government, while we simply render this current dysfunctional system obsolete. Let's give our government a long-needed update.