Sometimes, my neurons fire in just the right pattern, and I crank out something like Why The Gun Is Civilization. Whenever that happens, I usually have a few people suggesting I run for President.
That, my friends, is never going to happen. Even if you were to eliminate the Constitutional barriers in place (I’m a naturalized citizen, not a natural-born one), I wouldn’t want the job. Who in their right minds would trade in their privacy and ability to shop for a few books at Borders without a platoon of Secret Service dudes and a regiment of reporters in tow for the privilege of being national whipping boy (or -girl)? Also, I’m aware of the constitutional limitations of the job (unlike everyone in the Oval Office since, oh, Calvin Coolidge), and while I wouldn’t try to act outside my authority, I’d still get assassinated within a week of taking office. That’s not just because my interpretation of executive authority is rather narrow, but also my interpretation of Congressional authority. I’d basically sit in the Oval Office with a big red stamp that says “VETO: I see no constitutional authority for this law,” and I would go through gallons of stamp ink every month.
A while ago, Rachel Lucas picked up a meme about ten things you’d pass into law if you were elected Temporary Supreme Dictator of America. I only have five rules I’d put into place, and I consider them sufficient to keep the Republic on the straight-and-narrow for a while. My list is rather less specific than hers, but I feel that they’re comprehensive enough to take care of all the piddly stuff like marijuana legalization.
So, assuming that the Temporary Supreme Dictator gets to start with a blank sheet and unlimited authority, I’d make just a few changes to our political system. I don’t even need all ten slots–half of them will be more than sufficient. Here’s my list of Five Things I’d Pass Into Law:
Congress will meet once a year.
This full-time lawmaking business is not good for the country–that’s how we end up with 800-page laws and regulations dealing with the permissible size of oranges. To further ensure the passage of only the bare essential business, Congress is also relocated to the most inhospitable places in the country, on a rotating basis. One year, it might be the outskirts of Nome in January, the next year it might be Death Valley in August. Put up a bunch of tents, give ’em some hand-held fans or pocket heaters, and let them go about the business of Making Laws, and see how quickly they find the ability to distinguish between essential and non-essential business. It’ll also free up all that nice real estate in D.C. for more useful purposes…we could turn the Capitol into a totally awesome library, for example, and stock it with all the books that have ever been banned, censored, or burned.
All laws are vetoed by default unless they are qualified.
You pass a law and put it on my desk, and I will veto it unless these three conditions are met:
1.) The proposed bill has a cover page citing the exact Article and Section of the U.S. Constitution that describes Congressional authority to pass a law on the subject matter.
2.) The cite is precise, relevant, and unambiguous–none of that “commerce clause” or “general welfare” crap that has been serving as a Universal Constitutionality Adapter until now. If I roll my eyes or laugh when I read the cover page, that VETO stamp is coming out faster than a pack of Oreos at a Weight Watchers meeting.
3.) The proposed bill has fewer pages than the Constitution itself, and can be read in the same amount of time without consulting a legal dictionary. No more obfuscation–if the Founding Fathers were able to draft the legal foundation of our nation in comprehensible English and on less paper than needed for a Pizza Hut sales flyer, then Congress can pass concise laws that aren’t designed to obfuscate through language inflation.
Congress is elected by lottery.
We put the names of every eligible citizen into fifty huge hats, one for every state. Every two years, we fill the allotment of Congressional seats at random by pulling names out of those hats. We can make it a TV special, or something. Whoever is nominated gets to serve one term in Congress, which should take a week out of their schedule every year, tops. (See the preceding item on the list.) That will eliminate the vote-whoring, and the incessant stream of campaign ads, two of the most annoying aspects of the current system.
You abuse your public job, you die.
Any public servant found to have used their position to a.) enrich themselves unjustly, or b.) deprive a citizen of their civil rights without due process will get a blindfold, a last cigarette (or celery stick, depending on preference), and a public date with a firing squad.
All federal laws and statutes other than the Constitution are repealed.
You think your law about ethanol subsidies or the size of oranges is a great idea? Resubmit it, under the new guidelines listed above, and see whether it makes the cut, but don’t come crying to me if your fellow legislators beat you to death for making them read an 800-page draft at a House session in the middle of the Everglades…in July.
That’s it–those are your five new rules when I am Temporary Supreme Dictator of America. I’d like to think they’re sensible and balanced, and I sure wouldn’t mind living under those rules myself.