[EM] California Dreamin', Take 3
Dr. Ernie Prabhakar
drernie at radicalcentrism.org
Tue Aug 31 16:18:00 PDT 2004
Hi James et al,
On Aug 25, 2004, at 8:17 PM, James Green-Armytage wrote:
> My personal opinion is that bicameralism is unnecessarily bulky for a
> state legislature. So rather than re-conceptualizing the relationship
> between the two chambers, I'd rather just condense it into a single
> chamber. I think that people have enough trouble keeping track of what
> happening in state government as it is, and I think that having two
> separate chambers makes this problem twice as bad.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I realize I need to simplify and
clarify my goals, in order to establish a foundation for appropriate
reforms. In thinking about, I believe that the purpose of a
representative legislature is:
i) perceptively recognize issues of all the people
ii) creatively develop ideas by all the people
iii) wisely make decisions for all the people
so as to justly optimize governance across all the people
A bit pedantic, but I think it captures the things most of us want, and
highlights the problems with the current system. Given that purpose, I
believe we need four fundamental reforms:
i) Open elections of legislative leaders and committees
Right now, leadership is a closed process optimized for pork-barrel
politics. Open elections (using Condorcet winners for leaders and PR
membership of committees) would minimize that. It might not work
nationally, but it would certainly be an improvement for California,
and help ensure that bills of interest to the whole population (not
just special interests) are addressed.
ii) Proportional Representation of the Assembly
This would maximize diversity, which is good when trying to generate
ideas. The assembly would generate legislation; amendments which
didn't have majority support would be separate riders.
iii) Single-winner (Condorcet) for the Senate
This would maximize consensus, which is better when making final
decisions. The Senate would collect riders into various options, then
rank-order vote on them. The Condorcet winner(s) would go to the
Governor for approval/veto.
This "separation of powers" is important for quality in any production
process, whether it is reporters & editors, engineers & testing, or
actors ^ directors. In theory, committees would create and the full
body was supposed to edit, but lobbying and log-rolling have destroyed
that balance, so why not use bicameralism to restore it?
This system should enable a wide range of diverse ideas to be
considered, but only allow widely supported measures are passed.
However, I agree that districting is still an issue, so we would also
iv) Non-partisan, objective districting.
My favorite is to use automated (open source) tools and public data,
according to explicit constitutional criteria, to generate a list of
options which are then selected by a non-partisan panel. For PR, I
recommend districts of magnitude 7+-2 to optimize diversity and limit
Again, this may not be perfect, but I believe it addresses the most
serious concerns with both the current system, and various pure PR
alternatives. As always, I welcome your comments.
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