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« Our soldiers take risks long before war | Main | Plenty of cruelty to go around »

April 30, 2004

Comments

jj

I am in favor of this concept, that the state legislature should choose our senators, but I think it doesn't go far enough. If it is hard to really know the people in your own neighborhood, it is impossible to know a politician. They are, by nature, spin-doctors, and in opposition they are mudslingers. Usually, the better liar wins.
In general, I think we should emphasize the "representative" over the "democracy". I, myself, vote based on what I read in the papers and conversations I have with friends and family. But seriously, can you rely on the papers these days? And what do my friends know? They don't have any more contact with the political power networks than I do.
The political ads turn my stomach, but I have to admit they effect me. Once you have slandered someone, it is very hard to un-slander them, when and if the truth becomes known.
I am in favor of the voters' union concept. My neighborhood, Democrats and Republicans, would pick somebody to represent us. They meet with other neighborhood reps who try to determine the truth of the situation. They don't really have to decide for us, but they do separate the wheat from the chaff and tell us what the important issues are and which controversies are bogus.
Any system which more closely represents this model is, in my opinion, an advance over the current free-for-all of special interest groups.
Remember what Harry and Louise did to our health system.

jj

Nobody wants to rock the boat, but it is true that small states are over-represented. Somebody, years ago, designed a much more sensible allocation of states which I believe should be implemented. I think it was published in Time magazine. It allocated population more equally with an attempt at geographical consistency as well. There were states such as "Piedmont" and "Osage".
The tyranny of history and tradition should be addressed occasionally. Think about the entrenched persistence of the QWERTY keyboard and French spelling rules.

Crawford Kilian

De Tocqueville in the 1830s was struck by two aspects of American state governments: the popularly elected representatives seemed to him a bunch of rubes and hicks, yet they managed to elect admirable and distinguished persons to serve in their state's senate. De Tocqueville had no explanation for this phenomenon.

jj

I think that's right. Different locales have different standards regarding what qualities are important in a candidate. Candidates in larger areas appeal to all of the locales. In order to fit in the overlap, helpful qualities might be moderation, temperance, polish and education, all of which would be admired by de Tocqueville.
There is a good article in the May 2004 issue of Harper's by Richard N. Rosenfeld which proposes that we eliminate the Senate and the associated Electors completely. I don't agree with the idea at all, but I like a lot of the arguments.

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