Try Jefferson’s idea and revamp government

Thomas Jefferson proposed the U.S. Constitution be ratified by each successive generation to maintain the force of popular legitimacy. With the current federal budget impasse demonstrating the inability of our elected officials to effectively govern the country, perhaps it’s time to put Jefferson’s idea into practice.

Let’s consider alternative approaches to democracy, such as a parliamentary system in which we’d choose a single majority party to exercise legislative and administrative powers. This approach might avoid standoffs that paralyze our current politics. Or, on a more modest scale, we could change the way we elect the U.S. House of Representatives by going to a run-off system that pits the two-highest vote getters from a combined open primary regardless of the candidates’ political affiliations. That approach might tame partisan politics.

Let’s take a page from Jefferson’s playbook and shake things up for a generation. If we don’t like the results better, try something else, or go back to the old system. That’s the spirit of American innovation that got our grand experiment going in the first place.

Douglas McCarthy


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