So what needs amending? Setting aside Coburn’s proposals, those on the left, for example, have called for radical restrictions on campaign finance — an Occupy Wall Street offshoot called WolfPAC has managed to get such a petition passed in Vermont and California in the last couple months. Others have called for a right-to-vote amendment. Both proposals would make our system far more open and democratic.
But we must also consider changing the fundamental structure of the Constitution, particularly the Congress, by far the most rotten branch of government. It is inherently far too difficult for new legislation to be passed, creating a clumsy, ham-fisted governing apparatus that Stephen M. Teles has dubbed our “kludgeocracy problem.” Combine that with an ideologically and procedurally extreme Republican Party, and you have a recipe for paralysis. Indeed, as Juan Linz has demonstrated, American-style democracies have collapsed in every single other country that has implemented them.
If I had my druthers, I’d scrap both Congress and the executive in favor of a tried-and-true parliamentary democracy. But there are a lot of other less radical reforms out there. We could double the size of the House, and make the new half elected by proportional representation. Instead of requiring the approval of the House, Senate, and president to pass laws, we could opt for any combination of two. We could have the president elected by the House; install term limits for the Supreme Court; establish semi-proportional representation in the Sentate; mandate nonpartisan redistricting; and much more.