For generations, we Americans have labored to establish a more just, secure and prosperous nation. And while we’ve made considerable progress over the years, we’ve yet to establish the kind of more perfect union envisioned by our most thoughtful founders and descendants. We’ve fallen short, in large part, because our governing infrastructure is as deficient as many of our roads, ports and bridges. Government gridlock and dysfunction abound, and our imperfect democracy is in danger of becoming even more flawed.

To fix this, to fix Washington, we need to do more than simply change who we elect every two to six years. We need to substantially reform our governing practices and institutions, and we need to eliminate the excessive and corrupting influence that money, wealth and disinformation have over our politics and government.

More specifically, we need to enact long overdue legislative and constitutional reforms that will not only aid in strengthening our democracy and government, but also help in better protecting our rights and freedoms, including reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms, and assist in more effectively addressing such pressing problems as climate change, escalating gun violence, unaffordable housing and health care, economic inequality, shoddy infrastructure, underperforming schools and insufficient retirement security.

In the near-term, we should strive to ban congressional district gerrymandering and eliminate the U.S. Senate’s undemocratic “holds” and filibuster. Create an independent Government Planning, Accountability and Performance Commission to routinely evaluate, grade and report on federal agency plans, budgets and programs. Require social media platforms and AI programs to adhere to reasonable public interest rules. And ratify the “For Our Freedom Amendment” to better regulate political campaign contributions and spending.

Over the longer-term, we should seek to abolish the Electoral College and the establish a system for directly electing presidents. Impose sensible term limits and retirement age requirements on U.S. senators, representatives and judges, including Supreme Court justices. Restructure the U.S. Senate so that its allocation of power is more in line with a state’s population. Overhaul the U.S. House so that it is comprised of 600+ representatives in 200+ non-gerrymandered, multi-winner districts. And update the Constitution’s amendment process to require no more than 60% approval from both houses of Congress and ratifying support from states representing 60% or more of the nation’s population.

While it’s evident that achieving these ambitious reforms won’t be easy, the fact that most Americans are crying out for meaningful political change increases the chances that we could realize some of these changes if sufficient attention, reason and effort are applied. What clearly isn’t working in Washington, is doing more of the same. Focusing on and fighting over a half dozen or slightly more U.S. House or Senate seats, when substantive systems change is what is really needed.

To succeed, it’s important that we elect senators and representatives who are more apt to listen to scientists, doctors and economists, than consultants, lobbyists and wealthy donors. Senators and representatives whose policy ambitions are greater than their own personal political aspirations and who are committed to enacting the improvements needed, like those mentioned above, to truly fix Washington. And to no longer simply choose politicians who, because of their don’t-rock-the-boat centrist personas or fealty to culture war candidates and positions, are considered the most electable, but who generally fail to deliver any benefits beyond their own election. Only then are we likely to adequately strengthen our democracy and ensure that all Americans are provided with the security and life-enriching opportunities to thrive.

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