I've been mulling over an idea in my head for about a month now. It's a radical change to the constitution that might restore some semblance of order to what remains of the American political system. I think it's far too late to stave off the coming disaster, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea.
I short, I think people should be allowed to sell their votes.
Not sell them to politicians: politicans would be prohibited from doing this. But private citizens would be able to pay a predetermined fee to the government, which would in turn forward that fee to an individual citizen that has elected to give up their franchise for that election cycle. The fee would determined with a Dutch auction, with the minimum being set at poverty level plus some percentage (probably something like 15%). All money spent buying votes would be in place of other taxes. Then, the person who bought the votes would vote for the candidate of their choice and have all their purchased votes automatically go there too.
So the rich can buy for themselves a vastly disproportionate voice in the political system, but no one can complain that the underprivelaged aren't cared for, since they're being given a subsistance level income at minimum, and possibly more if enough people are willing to pay that much for the political power.
I'd suggest that this would only be in play for electing the President. The House should still be universal suffrage, and the Senate should go back to the original way of doing things: state appointees.
Benefits to this system: those who govern would no longer have to pander to masses of uneducated, unintelligent, self-interested, short-sighted idiots. People are stupid. A person may be smart, but people, no matter who they are, are stupid. This would, in turn, probably move politics way back from the public view, where it can do the most harm. It's time for politics to be the concern of those who actually have something intelligent to say about it. We could probably do away with the damnable polarization of American politics if we didn't have to mobilize vast quantities of plebians to get anything done.
I don't care if this makes me sound elitist. I am elitist. I'm not elitist like Lenin or Che, in that I'm all about letting a system of rules emerge from a pattern, and am not too keen on imposing rules on a system to achieve a desired end. But I believe that balancing political power with social burdens makes sense, and that our current system is deeply unequal. Those who give nothing have as big a voice - or even bigger, when taken en masse - than those who give 50% of their income. It's time that those who live on the fringes of the largesse of the productive minority started acting the part and showing some deference.Posted by ryan at October 29, 2005 4:24 PM