From time to time I like to consider how the structure of government might be altered for the better. A few days ago I wrote about the market power that the President has in the appointment process. Let me propose an alternative way of organizing executive and legislative authority which relies heavily on removing the market power of both the president and Senate party structures.
Instead of the Presidency and Congress, the executive and legislative branches would be composed of an executive congress and a legislative congress, both proportionally elected. The legislative congress would act much like contemporary non-parliamentary legislatures. All non-foreign policy related executive appointments would be filled by the candidate who is first to pass both congresses much in the same way as bills are passed now by the House and Senate. All executive branch positions (besides the actual executive congress) would be filled either by appointment or hired directly or indirectly by an appointee. Only the executive congress would have the authority to remove an appointment for non-criminal reasons, and it would have to do so by a heavy majority. Federal judgeships would also be filled by appointment, but would only be removable by regular criminal proceedings for corruption and other crimes.
The goal of having both congresses approve appointments would be to select consistently centrist executives with strict respect for rule by law (not necessarily rule of law). The job of the executive congress would be to make sure that executive appointees are not beholden to the legislative branch; to give appointment positions. The job of the legislative congress in the appointment process would be to make sure that executive appointees are interested in evenhanded enforcement of the law. Heavy majority requirements for passing both congresses would work to make sure that appointments are very centrist so that enforcement of the law would remain relatively constant through time. Competition between representatives in the congresses for influence on appointment results would make appointments relatively quick.
The executive congress alone would choose the foreign policy minister or ministers in charge of foreign policy and national defense (but not civil law enforcement). In place of a veto, the executive congress would have the power to send bills passed by the legislative congress to a constitutional court. Sending a bill to a constitutional court would require a large minority (something around 25%) in the executive congress.
The legislative congress would act much as traditional legislatures do, but it would be more limited in the power it could exert over the executive branch. The legislative congress would create executive agencies by charter, setting their internal structure and purpose, but it could only modify an agency intermittently.
My primary concern with this system is that I am not sure if the executive congress would try to strengthen the power of the executive branch in opposition to the legislative branch’s attempts to strengthen itself, because I am not sure it would have enough vested interest in the executive branch.