3 min read

Ways To Make Politics Better

Off the top of my head I can think of ten ways to make politics better. You will not agree with all of these, and you will have some better ideas.

Let me know your ideas and we will improve the list together. I've already made the first addition to the original list below.

1. No Career Politicians

To be eligible to serve, politicians must have worked for a paycheck, preferably in the private sector. Money is not something the government creates, only confiscates, so our civil servants should appreciate the value of a day’s work.

2. Parents Preferred

Parents and caregivers have learned to care about someone other than themselves.

3. Age Limits

Let’s avoid the painful discussions about situations we all can see but don’t want to say out loud. The Social Security retirement age will also be the retirement age for our politicians. If a politician still thinks they have something to contribute, we will welcome them to one of our many wonderful nonprofits.

4. Term Limits

The benefits of experience in the job are outweighed by the risk of complacency setting in. Six years? Ten years? We can discuss how long. But a Senator who starts at age 30 should not remain in government service in their 70s.

Taking the first four points together: how about requiring our representatives to be between 40 and 60, with a five-year window on either side for exceptional cases? They’ll have worked, cared for family, and gained experience in the real world. Each term in office is a valued service to the country that we will honor, like we do military veterans. Each generation knows it will get its turn.

5. Sunset All Laws

It is hard to draft good laws. Most have unintended consequences. All laws should thus expire ten years after passage unless Congress musters the political will to pass them again.

6. Give Laws A Grade

To ensure a proper discussion at sunset time, let’s give laws a grade. What was the intended outcome? How did the law perform? Did the benefits outweigh the costs? Did new problems arise that the law did not address? How can we make it better? And so on.

7. We Eat Our Own Cooking, And We Keep It Kosher

No exceptions for Congress and staff. They get to follow exactly the same rules as the rest of us: health care, retirement benefits, tax rules, etc. No pork (earmarks). We individuals don’t get to bribe people using other people’s money, and Congress shouldn’t either.

8. Give Politicians A Grade

I’d like politicians to know our needs and represent our interests faithfully. They must perform loyally to the best of their ability without conflicts of interest. When appropriate, Congress should cooperate and compromise: the good done is better than the great undone. They shall make things better, or at the very least not make them worse. Everyone should know if they succeed, and equally if they fail.

9. Be Diligent

Representatives may not vote on laws that they haven’t read or can’t explain in plain English. The job is important, so take it seriously. The term is limited, so make it count. This also means not passing the buck to administrative agencies. Congress should make all material decisions and leave only implementation to agencies, not policy-making.

10. Be Transparent

We should know, in detail, what candidates stand for before they are elected, and we should know what representatives do once in office. We said what we wanted, and we’re going to evaluate performance. So we need to see what Congress does, in detail. No closed door sessions, no off the record leaks. If politicians wouldn’t be comfortable having the conversation in their home town diner, they shouldn’t be having it in a backroom either.

I bet you can think of ten more good ideas. Let me know your ideas and we’ll expand the list.

The first expansion to our list is actually an old idea. It comes courtesy of Lex Fridman's interview of Daniel Schmachtenberger on the Lex Fridman Podcast (Episode 191).

11. Citizens Must Be Well-Informed

Daniel referred to our first President George Washington's observation that because government is a function of the public will, the public needs to be knowledgeable. See George Washington's Farewell Address (1796).

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

12. Your Idea. (To come)

Be well.