No system of government is perfect and every system comes with significant drawbacks. And what works well in the past is likely to suffer under the strains of time and a changing environment. But there are a few obvious and simple improvements we can make now to improve decision making, reduce cost, and increase confidence in our government. Below is a collection of simple, common sense solutions we should all be able to get behind.
In the federal government, the Senate serves the purpose of balancing the power of low population states against high population states (and keeping whiny Delaware inline). In the state government, it serves no purpose at all.
In the US Senate each state is represented by two senators elected statewide, with no consideration given to the population of each state. In the Ohio Senate districts are determined by population, exactly as Ohio House districts are. Terms are longer and the populations larger but it is arbitrary and each is equally susceptible to outrageous partisan gerrymandering. The Senate is merely a smaller, redundant House that is further out of touch with voters.
Ohio should adopt a unicameral legislature, similar to Nebraska’s. The Ohio Senate should be eliminated completely and all legislative duties vested in the House. This will greatly simplify and expedite the legislative process, reducing bureaucracy and increasing efficiency of government.
Expand the House
A strange aspect of our representative government we really have to come to terms with no matter how uncomfortable or undemocratic it might seem: more than anything, election to public office is a status symbol for the elite. When we consider the makeup of those who are elected to serve in the state and federal government we find many of them are lawyers, business owners, or career politicians. By no means could those we choose to elect be considered average or typically representative of the population.
These are simply the people that have the inclination, time, resources, and connections to seek office. It does not mean they are deficient in their duties to represent the people, the incentive to do a sufficiently good job to be reelected remains. While ideally the legislature would be a good socio-economic and demographic mix of the state’s population, the real problems occur when there are too few positions for too many elites. Why? Because, being in the upper echelons of society, they have the resources and power to make life absolutely miserable for the rest of us.
Which is why I propose a simple solution to create a more democratic, representative legislature that will allow for better, more diverse representation, and reduce inter-elite competition. We shall expand the Ohio House from 99 to 225 representatives. This will reduce the number of citizens each representative represents from ~120,000 to about ~50,000. This will make it easier for our elected officials to stay in touch with the needs and concerns of the people.
Terms will be extended to 3 years with 75 representatives being up for election every year. Longer terms will allow representatives to focus on what’s best for the state and less on getting reelected. But one third of the legislature being up for election every year will keep the legislature responsive to quickly developing events and the changing will of the people.
Salaries should be reduced from $60,000 a year down to $20,000 a year. Legislator is not and should not be a full-time job.
Eliminate Administrative Redundancies
Specifically the lieutenant governor. What is the point of that position? Waste of a title and $140,000 annual salary. In the event that the governor is unable to complete the duties of the office, the Secretary of State shall assume the role.
21st Century Government
If there is one thing this latest pandemic has demonstrated, it’s the importance and flexibility of technology in the modern world. Millions of Americans learned that it was possible (though not yet ideal) to work, learn, and socialize from home. It’s time Ohio’s government got up to date for the possibilities of the 21st century.
It should be possible for the majority of the average citizen’s interactions with the government to be done via mobile phone if they so choose. From paying a ticket, to managing government assistance, to voting, it should all be possible through an intuitive digital portal. The “how” of achieving this is not obvious, to anyone. We will set aside funds to launch various, competing pilot programs in cities and villages throughout the state. Those that succeed will be scaled up and those that fail will be dropped. The Future is Now!
In addition, the rules of the legislature should be changed to allow for remote voting. No legislature should have any excuse for missing a vote and there will never be a need to charter a private plane to fly representatives back to pass corrupt bills again. While the Ohio House might be well served in developing its own system, for the near term the House should host all sessions in VRChat. This will allow for maximum immersion in a world of the legislature’s choosing as well as safe social distancing.
Completely Overhaul the Ohio Bureaucracy and Law
The reality of governing is that it’s incredibly messy businesses with a lengthy history. Ohio law, its statutes and codes, is a sprawling mess. As the laws and spending grows, so grows the bureaucracy necessary to maintain it.
Once in office, apart from enacting the measures outlined in my platform, responding to the needs of my constituents, and calling out the hypocrisy of the other representatives, the majority of my time will be spent going through Ohio’s statutes and examining its various agencies. The goal is to streamline, improve efficiency, and advance liberty. Our government should serve the people as well as possible and leave them alone whenever possible.