This is a position paper of The Jacksonian Party.
Yesterday, after I had left for the evening, Glenn Harlan Reynolds put forth the Instapundit recommendations for good legislating.
They are as follows:
My advice for next time:For democracy to be vital, the Citizenry must be aware of what legislation is being looked at to be passed in their name. To do that the Citizenry must have open and readily available drafts of legislation and a feedback mechanism so that legislators will hear the voice of the People.
(1) Make the process open, transparent, and timely, with hearings, drafts on the Internet, and no last-minute bills that no one has read;
(2) Earn people's trust, don't demand it, and treat enforcement like it matters;
(3) Respect people who follow the law, and make legal immigration easier, cheaper, and simpler, rather than the Kafkaesque nightmare it is now;
(4) Don't feel you have to be "comprehensive" -- address the problems you can deal with first. The trust needed to deal with other problems will come later, after you've shown some success and some good faith.
Congress must recognize that it is the Congress of the United States *first* and representing their States so as to have broad input into the decision making process for the Union. No Congressional office should refuse to listen to or not take seriously constituents from other Districts or States as the Congress is there to help govern the United States as a whole.
In the era of electronic communications, all bills, amendments and drafts of same should have wide visibility to the People. This would have been difficult to do in previous eras of communications, but is now: easy, fast and openly accessible. A feedback mechanism per each piece should be instituted and each Committee and SubCommittee made aware of that feedback.
As Committees and SubCommittees have become more vital to the legislative process, the right of the People to address them directly shall not be infringed. That requires that on all but National Security grounds that meetings, minutes and other forms of address within the Committee structure be openly available to the Citizenry of the Republic. Save for National Security there are *no* reasons for 'closed door' meetings of the Congress.
These are trust earning and transparency measures to ensure that Congress frankly and openly discusses the Will of the People and do not get diverted by lobbyists, industries and Non-Governmental Organizations. If these wish to address the People via legislation, then they must do this thing known as: address the People. Not Our Representatives. If the People see a crying need for an industry to be protected or for some group to gain benefit from National Government, We the People shall so inform our Representatives.
Not the other way around.
No lobbyist, focus group, business group, not for profit group, or NGO of any sort is to draft legislation: if Congress wants a staff, it may use them to do so. And then those drafts are put up for Public Scrutiny.
None of these groups are to be involved in the active drafting of legislation: that is what Congress is elected to do. It is the job of Congress to do that and not farm it out to other organizations.
Enforcement of new laws and enactment of Treaty provisions *must* carry the cost to FULLY and COMPLETELY enforce such legislation with drafts of the scope of such costs coming from those Government Departments, Agencies and oversight groups that will be involved in the entire process. No law goes unenforced nor is non-equal protection under the law provided for. If Congress sees laws not being enforced, it is to find out what the COST is of enforcing them and PASS that cost into the budget. Equal protection under the laws of the land may not be discriminatory, nor may the Executive pick and choose which laws to enforce. These are the laws of the Nation, not the laws of your local country, and are to be enforced across the Nation.
If Congress wants them, it may pay for them from the Public Purse. And explain why it costs so much to do things as part of the proceedings.
When equal enforcement leads to discriminatory protection, Congress has a duty to address that for the People. Individuals acting with good faith to the laws of the land are to be treated with respect even if it is suspected that they have broken such laws. This is a Nation of the Rule of Law, not the Law of Rules in which rules start to delimit freedom and the government finds it in its own interest to expand the number of rules.
For simplification it is suggested that the Instapundit 'rules of the road' put forth targeted legislation to go after direct and accountable ills that have identifiable remedies, costs and measurement tools to ensure that something is being DONE about them.
In addition The Jacksonian Party views the way laws are actually *written* to be an anathema to the Common Man. After going through the US Code, one is struck by how direct and easy laws of the 19th century are to read and understand, and how well written they were. Flipping to the modern laws for anything requires a full law degree, multiple resources to view such laws and the ability to go into sub-paragraphs that cross multiple pieces of the US Code. The Jacksonian Party has previously put forth a concept of laws with intent, content and public petition as a source of laws. It would be a very wise and good idea of Congress to make its legislative process *readable* and *simple to navigate* and be *user friendly*. As it is the People get the feeling that the Nation is heading to an era of, by and for the lawyer class. A 'focus group' of average Citizens paid by the hour to read such laws and write their understandings and criticism of such might be a good idea. If Congress puts that up as a feedback mechanism, it will get that FOR FREE from concerned Citizens.
Perhaps it could do this with the Tax Code of the United States, to get input from the Citizenry upon it so as to draft better taxes.
The Jacksonian Party fully supports Mr. Reynold's proposals, as they are necessary to a vital democratic process in the 21st century that must adapt to modern means to achieve ancient ends.
Apparently Congress prefers: closed room discussions, limited debate, and the ability of partisan leadership to ram bills into their chambers so as to get the least amount of input from the People or even allow individuals to READ the bills involved. That is not the happenings of a Congress acting as representatives for the People: That is authoritarian in scope and purely evil in ends as it concentrates power into the hands of the few to limit the ability of the People to have say in good governance.
That is not a path to democracy, it is one to dictatorship and tyranny.