When our founding fathers put together our plan of government at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, they spent a great deal more time hammering out the details that concern the legislative branch (Congress) than the details that describe how the other two branches are supposed to work.
This was not accidental — our founding fathers believed that the branch of government charged with making laws would play the leading role in determining the direction of the country. Though generations of presidents and judges have increased the stature and importance of their own branches of government, Congress has not diminished in importance.
It doesn’t always assert its power, but it is still our only lawmaking institution.
Unfortunately, Congress is susceptible to corruption.
Our founders did not anticipate the advent of the paid lobbying industry, which dominates the discussion in our nation’s capital at the expense of the people members of Congress are supposed to represent. Ending corruption is what respected professor Lawrence Lessig calls a “first problem”. By that he means a problem that is not necessarily more important than other problems (like the climate crisis) but one that must be solved in order for others to be solved.
We have not made much headway in solving this “first problem” of corruption. In fact, with the Corporations United ruling last year, things have only gotten worse.
Obviously, amending the Constitution to reverse Corporations United and end the practice of equating corporations as persons is of paramount importance. But what else should be done to change Congress and put an end to rampant corruption? We’re putting together a list of possibilities and we’d like reader input. What do you think? How would you like to see Congress changed?
Please share any suggestions you have in the comments.