The Federalism Project

Constitutional Reform and Governance in the U.S. (& Around the World)

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It will take a new process for electing our president!

American’s Elect – The Right Process for our Times!

Our current two-party system has failed us, and if the past 20 years is any indication it will not deliver the kind of executive we need to deal with this global economy of the 21st century.  Our current two-party system will continue the partisan gridlock of Washington, where the only way to solve any current or future problem (from education and housing, to energy and unemployment) will be to further concentrate powers at the federal level.

For comparison, consider Greece and its current sovereign debt crisis.  Most people believe that Greece’s sovereign debt problem is the result of high government spending, a bloated bureaucracy, and inadequate tax collection.  That however is the symptom, and not the cause of the problem with Greece.  The true reason for Greece’s economic misfortunes is (what I like to call) the dictatorship of the Prime-minister.  For the majority of the past 30 years, the office of the Prime-minister exercised complete control over the Greek government – no meaningful checks and balances from the other branches, no divided government, just a Westminster model with a strong executive with enhanced policy-setting powers in order to swiftly pass vital economic reforms.  It is Greece’s system of governance, which allowed a two party partisan governing practice that was primarily responsible for the current state of fiscal disrepair.

How possible is it, that unless we change the way OUR government works, in 20 years we could be facing a ‘Greek-style’ sovereign debt crisis?  We need to ‘realign’ our priorities and expectations for the role and function of the federal executive branch.  The current system of governance has taken us as far as we can go.  Partisan politics will never leave our lives, nor should they.  The Congress is legitimately the place where the people’s representatives come to argue and debate different policies and priorities.  If the people don’t like the gridlock and the partisan gamesmanship that characterizes the modern congress, then they should vote the rascals out.

On the other hand, the Executive Branch and the federal bureaucracy will have to be apolitical and technocratic, in order to better handle the many foreign economic/security shocks that are coming our way from overseas.  There is no Republican or Democratic response to the Arab Spring, or the EU sovereign debt crisis.  We will need a federal bureaucracy that can be objective and methodical, as well as disciplined enough to promote the devolution of federal powers and responsibilities to the states that we will need.

We can hope that Congress will deliver the necessary reforms to the federal government, or that one of these days one of the two major parties will nominate a Presidential candidate willing to take on the task of reforming our government for the 21st century.  We can hope!  On the other hand, Americans Elect is promising to put on the ballot in every State, a bipartisan ticket that will not be beholden to either one of the two major parties.

Under the Americans Elect process, individuals and groups can nominate candidates for president, to be decided in via an on-line convention in July.  The only stipulation being that the winner will have to pick a vice-president from the opposite party (or an independent) in order to get the ballot access that Americans Elect is guaranteeing.

This is refreshingly reminiscent of the true vision of our founding fathers, back in the day when there were no political parties and the executive was supposed to be bipartisan.  The original vision of the framers was that the winner of the Electoral College would become the president, and the runner-up would be the vice-president.  The 1800 presidential election, and the chicanery of the Democratic-Republican party of Thomas Jefferson (and the subsequent 12th Amendment to the Constitution) changed that system, to our current outcome.

Americans Elect promises a bipartisan ticket, on the ballot of every State.  A bipartisan ticket that could break our current misaligned trajectory to further consolidation of power at the executive, further political partisan gridlock, and overall marginalization of the people.

Americans Elect could prove to be our last best hope for restoring our Republic!

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