Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grassroots + Power III: Debating Reform

Just a quick post here. Now that I've talked about the current problem, and the direction the debate needs to go, I'd also like to briefly talk about what the new direction of the conversation could look like. I bring this up because I happened to read an article that addresses the sort of problem I'm thinking of properly.

The article is here, it's a discussion of the House of Lords, and how to better structure the House of Lords. The opening two paragraphs:

Since it is widely believed by those outside the House of Lords itself that it should not, in its present form, continue to exist, and since the only models of reform suggested – appointment, election, or a combination of the two – are open to compelling objections, the case for total abolition is strong. But the Lords also does invaluable work, particularly as a revising chamber and in the work of its specialist committees. To bring that contribution to an end without replacing it would adversely affect, in a serious way, the quality of government in this country. Time and again, not least in recent years, we have had cause to thank providence for the House of Lords, which on occasion seems more closely attuned to the mood of the nation than the popularly elected house. If the Lords were abolished, could it be effectively replaced?

I think it could, by establishing a body which – for want of any better name – I shall call the Council of the Realm ("the Council", for short). This body would differ from the House of Lords superficially in that membership would involve no outdated pretence of nobility, and it would differ fundamentally in having no legislative power. It could not make law. It could not (save in one respect which I shall discuss shortly) obstruct the will of the Commons. There would be no persisting democratic deficit.

From there, he goes on to lay out more details about his proposed structure for the House of Lords. The content of his argument isn't really the point of why I'm bringing it up (although his logic seems rather sound). I just want to point out how he's thinking about the problem: practically.

In the United States, our government was reformed in waves and waves ever since Andrew Jackson first introduced the concept of America as a Democracy, and usually the reforms have been aimed at making things "more democratic." Some of these steps were clearly good ones--steps toward universal sufferage. However, not everything done in the name of Democracy is necessarily a good thing -- the Republican aspect of our government is equally important.

This is the sort of discussion I'd like to see more often: how power will actually be worked, case scenarios of abuse.