Laws for our Post-Trump America
This is the old version.
See new version: https://rickragan.medium.com/saving-our-democracy-in-2020-f4151ed140fe
1. Qualifications to run for the presidency
These qualifications are required before any candidate can run for federal office. All political appointees including the president, vice president, cabinet officials, and members of Congress must clear these hurdles BEFORE nomination and taking office. These qualifications should become a constitutional amendment and passed by all 50 states.
1.1) Provide the last 15 years of income tax returns, personal as well as corporate returns if they own private companies. Providing tax returns is not optional.
1.2) No major conflicts of interest: provide complete financial disclosure of all business, national as well as international holdings, shell companies, etc. Significant updates cannot be made after the run begins and would be a disqualification.
1.3) List all currently held stocks, bonds, and other investments. Place said investments into a blind trust.
1.4) Certified to be physically healthy by an independent team of three physicians.
1.5) Certified free of significant mental health issues, pathologies, significant negative personality traits by three independent qualified professionals: psychiatrist and psychologist.
1.6) Must take and pass a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Scope_Background_Investigation
1.7) During the campaign and after if nominated, they or their support staff, must not engage in hate speech.
1.8) During the campaign, they or their support staff, must not release, speak, transmit, or otherwise speak information that is patently incorrect, i.e., misrepresenting the truth.
1.9) Provide a list showing from whom they have accepted gifts. This would include donations (money, gifts, travel, etc.) received as a federal employee, private citizen, and immediate family. This list will encompass the last five years before declaring candidacy as well as on-going donations during candidacy and the presidency.
1.10) Cannot belong to any recognized hate group or group that advocates violence, sexism, homophobia, or other types of intolerance, before, during or after the run for office.
1.11) The candidate and potential president, must act and represent the good of the people of the USA. Must not collaborate with enemies of the USA. Must represent the majority of the people of the USA, not just the top wealthiest people or corporations.
2) New Laws and Government Agencies:
Note: Some of these laws would require a change to the constitution.
2.1) Move the entire Department of Justice, including the FBI, out of the Executive Branch and into the Judicial Branch. All DoJ leaders will be promoted from within based on leadership, performance, fairness, independence, and adherence to the constitution and current laws.
2.2) The Judicial Branch will have no political appointees, neither in the Supreme Court nor in the DoJ. No judges or DoJ employees will be allowed to be publicly affiliated with any political party, then cannot be “Democrats” or “Republicans.”
2.3) Federal judges, including current and future Supreme Court justices will be chosen from an independent, non-political board, based on judicial independence, temperament, their mastery of the law, fair and balanced judgement, experience. Federal judges include SCOTUS, Court of Appeals, District Court, Bankruptcy Court. SCOTUS and DoJ leaders will no longer be chosen by politicians. The independent board will maintain a list of judges. The people on that list will have already been fully vetted and approved. When a judicial vacancy opens in the state, federal, or Supreme Court, that position will be filled within 30 days. Governmental agencies can provide feedback, but ultimately cannot block the filling of any position. If challenges are presented, the board must address. All federal judges must pass a health and psychology examination every two years for memory and dementia after age 70.
2.4) Government employee law: government employees, executive, legislative, judicial, military, FBI, CIA, etc., are not allowed to misrepresent the truth, express bias, intolerance or hatred while on the job. All government employees must act to uphold the constitution and benefit the people of the USA. Congress must not cater to special groups such as the rich, corporations, and other organizations. Congress’ charter is to represent the people of the USA, not special interest groups. All members of Congress must pass a security background check (SSBI) before assuming office. If found to be acting, talking, or communicating suspiciously, another background check must be run to verify they are not accepting money or items of value. Congress is not entitled to run large budget deficits unless there is an emergency such as a war.
2.5) Working for the government: all people working for the government, such as the president, the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judicial branch, must be hired and paid for their work. People cannot provide services to the government without being liable for their actions. Example, Rudolph Giuliani was an unofficial person working as a shadow government employee helping Trump skirt official diplomatic activities. Example, Ivanka Trump working as an ambassador, representing the USA, but not an employee subject to the federal laws of the USA.
2.6) The USA federal, state, and local governments must be driven by facts, not politics, religious beliefs, or misinformation. Government scientists, researchers, and other data-driven groups must be allowed to present, distribute, and advocate their facts without interference from politics and personal opinion. For example, it is a fact that Climate Change is real. The president, Congress, or head of the EPA cannot suppress or modify that information to suit their opinions.
2.7) Elected politicians must meet with their constituents at least every 90 days for open exchange of ideas. These will be public meeting where individuals cannot be filtered out or invited in order to skew the representation of diverse groups. The meetings must allow for large numbers of people to congregate, e.g., hundreds of people in small towns, and tens of thousands of people in large cities. Phone, video connections, and Internet must be provided. Hate groups and violent groups will be excluded.
2.8) All local, state, and federal Voting Systems must be highly secured from hacking and must maintain a secure paper audit trail of who voted for whom and when. Every voter must be given a paper receipt that shows who they voted for and a special random ID number they can trace to the final tally of voters before the election is complete. This technique ensures something as valuable as the vote can be traced to who (anonymously) voted for which candidate. An independent auditing agency at the federal level, must review and re-certify the election systems every year using transparent standards established by an independent commission. Summary: all voting machines and voting procedures will be provided at the Federal level.
2.9) Rapid and Objective Impeachment: if the Congress of the USA fails to act promptly to impeach a president who has broken significant laws or standards, has provided information or aide to an adversary, or who is not working in the best interest of the nation, then an independent council must be established within a week of said malfeasance to investigate, asses, and recommend action within 30 days of the start of the malfeasance.
2.10) The local, state, and federal governments must take measures to avoid undue influence. The wealthy have more resources than the middle class and the poor. This is a democracy and the rich and powerful can no longer throw money and lobbyists at politicians and other government officials since the average person cannot afford to do the same. Politicians, government officials, judges, and those running for office must not take anything of value while in office. Nor will they be allowed to take deferred payments after leaving office. No dark money, no money from corporations is allowed. Local, state, and federal employees may take nothing of value such as money, trips, dinner, tickets to events, etc. They and their family and associates must not profit from any actions or inactions including commodities trading when serving in the government.
2.11) Running for office: Dark money in politics has created a culture of massive corruption in government where the rich pay for access and favors from elected officials. That must end immediately. Anyone running for office must accept election funds from the federal government, suggested amount: $2M for president, $500K for senate, $100K for House of Representatives. Politicians cannot use their own funds which would give the super-rich an advantage. Politicians cannot form PACs to accumulate money for other sources. Others are not allowed to spend more than $100 to support their preferred candidates. This money cannot be pooled to form large campaign expenditures. To follow the British model, the campaign season will be only 30 days long. There is a blackout for campaigning one week before the election.
2.12) Registration to vote: all adults who are citizens of the USA are automatically registered to vote upon turning 18 years old. Voter registration lists are held by local, state, and federal officials. No person can be removed from that list. Naturally, adjustments can be made by an independent board for change of address, or death.
2.13) The Electoral College must be abandoned. The candidate who earns the most votes from a valid election accedes to office. No group of people, whether it be the Electoral College, or the courts may participate in the elections. If an election is appropriately contested or legally declared invalid by an independent commission, there must be a new election within 30 days. The courts do not decide the results of any election. The election is held again if there are invalid processes or candidates.
2.14) No government official can act against their charter. For example, if the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency promotes dirty coal, or loosening the clean air standards, they must be removed from office and replaced with someone who will uphold the standards of the office.
2.15) Gerrymandering: Redistricting can no longer be conducted by politicians. Gerrymandered districts have successfully gamed the voting system to establish political or racial advantage. All voting districts within the USA must be created by an approved set of unbiased rules, i.e., a computer algorithm, that divides population areas equally. Suggested references: https://rangevoting.org/ or
2.16) News Media: Restore the Fairness Doctrine requiring all news outlets to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced:
2.17) Enhance the Fairness Doctrine to current standards. Mandate all News channels or News programs must not promote: lies, misleading statements, biased information, hatred, intolerance, or bias. Equating two different positions may only take place if the positions are indeed balanced. For example, if one position is correct and legal and the other position is illegal or a lie, the two positions cannot be equated.
2.18) All Social Media organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. are responsible for eliminating information on their platform that describes hatred, violence, intolerance, or clearly inaccurate information. Social Media will be transparent, no one can hide their identities or country of origin. Any advertisements must contain the original source and must be accurate. No bots are allowed on social media.
2.19) Enforce and strengthen the law: that religious organizations may not engage in politics, promote or endorse politicians, or political ideas. If they engage in these activities, then they lose their tax-exempt status.
2.20) Guns, rifles, ammunition and other weapons of destruction must only be sold by a certified gun dealer. Guns cannot be sold at gun shows or from one person to another person. All gun dealers must be licensed and must run a complete background check requiring a 48-hour period before the gun can be sold. A national register must be established to prevent people on the list from purchasing guns (such as: people with a history of violence, wife or child abuse, criminals, etc.). Combat weapons such as AK-47, AR-15s, large capacity clips, bump stocks cannot be sold to civilians.
2.21) Net Neutrality must be codified into law. “Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.”
2.22) The barrier between commercial and investment banks, also known as the Glass-Stiegel Act, must be codified into law. Commercial banks, i.e., standard banks most people use for checking and savings, cannot use their funds for risky investments.