2013-01-10 / Editorial

Scattering Seeds

BY JOHN A. MURPHY

Our national government is crippled. It lurches from crisis to crisis. Immediate needs (such as relief to victims of Superstorm Sandy) and chronic needs (such as updating ancient infrastructure) go unmet, or are poorly handled.

Enormously wasteful programs and practices continue because of the vise-like grip on elected officials possessed by powerful interests represented by lobbyists. Many of these lobbyists are former government officials; all of them are large contributors to political campaigns.

Many such contributions are hidden from view based upon a warped view of the First Amendment countenanced by a heavily political Supreme Court.

Reform is needed if we are to be governed with rationality, and able to meet the vital needs of our nation’s citizenry. Governmental devices that made sense in the 18th century need to be examined. Where the realities of the 21st century dictate, appropriate changes should be given careful consideration, always testing proposals against the bedrock principle of protecting individual rights against governmental oppression

Here are several ideas that might deserve consideration as part of a process intended to make our government more agile and effective:

• Eliminate, or substantially curtail, the use of the filibuster in the United States Senate; and

• Eliminate the process by which “safe” districts are gerrymandered into existence, guaranteeing that incumbent members of the House of Representatives have no reason to fear being ousted except in a party primary.

Those two reforms should operate to make our legislative branch considerably more responsive to the needs of the citizenry, and less in thrall to special interests and narrow political considerations.

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