Do people have a right to good governance? It’s a misleadingly simple question. Certainly we all want the best but we don’t always know what the best is. And what happens when the desire for good governance conflicts with that most American ideal: the right to be shamelessly wrong about absolutely everything with confidence bordering on the delusional?
The United States was founded on a somewhat revolutionary idea, that a free people could best govern themselves. But the country wasn’t birthed with one brilliant idea, it was a crude compromise forged out of necessity and experience, bad experience. Our founders were incredibly suspicious of democracy and the concentration of power. They went to elaborate lengths to separate the great mass of people from the levers of power and further, placing the levers of power in opposition to each other. The founders thus gave at least as much weight to good governance as they did to any democratic ideals.
And it was a pretty good system that worked more out of the will and flexibility of its participants than out of the design of the system itself. It’s gone through countless revisions, democracy has been greatly expanded, and the interactions with the states have changed dramatically. This is merely to briefly illustrate that our government is neither perfect nor set in stone. Good governance and democratic values are each given consideration. Power is distributed between the states and the national governments, between the various branches of each, and between the government, the people, and various private and public entities.
It can’t be easily denied that our country is a damnable mess. Really, the last 20 years have been a debacle. It’s worse for Ohio which has been experiencing a 50+ year slide into collapse. How much of that is the fault of the government? It’s tough to assign blame because we do get to choose our government so ultimately its on us when government fails. We’ve failed miserably as citizens of the United States, charged with carrying out this grand experiment in self-government. Absolutely nothing will fundamentally change until we as a people change. Even so, there are institutional measures to be taken to better our chances of good governance even when we fail in our democratic (and legal) duty to not be idiots (Article V. Sec. 6 of the Ohio Constitution, look it up!).
Good governance is determined by the design of government, the process for selecting that government, and in the actions of those tasked with running the government.
We must make it easier and more appealing for people to participate in our democracy. We must eliminate any hint of corruption or conflicts of interests within our government. And we must design our government so that the interests of the country are consistently held above personal or explicitly partisan interests.
The legitimacy and effectiveness of our government is a necessity for the continued survival of our country. Society is a consensus surrounding an idea. There is nothing real or physical about a country, borders exist in the political, not the physical world. Faith in not just our government but all institutions has crumbled to the point where almost nothing binds us together as a people. We live in an age where trolling the opposing political party is more desirable than justice or liberty. And that’s truly sickening, we are an absolute disgrace to the world, to our predecessors, and absolutely our progeny. If you think your children or grandchildren or great grandchildren in fifty years are going to look back and be proud of what our generations were doing, you’re deluded. They will spit on our memory and dance on our graves.
Anyway, that doesn’t sound great to me so let’s start fixing things so maybe instead this can be viewed as a turning point in history when we really got our act together and figured governing out.
At the very least, can we agree that there’s room for improvement?
- Automatic Voter Registration
- Independent redistricting
- Ranked Choice Voting
- Increase representatives
- Eliminate the Ohio Senate
- 3-year terms for representatives
- Reduce maximum campaign contributions
- Democracy dollars
- Full transparency from all organizations spending significant money to influence government