Most Americans agree that the current federal Executive branch is out of control and the normal oversight mechanisms aren’t working. Most of those who disagree with that statement now would have agreed with it 4 years ago …
This is caused by three structural problems in the Constitution.
First, most actual oversight is carried out by the Executive branch itself. The various parts of the organization have posts like “Inspector General” who are a) appointed by and dependent on elected or appointed officers and b) responsible for overseeing the conduct of those officers. This is a clear conflict of interest, and has very visibly failed to keep the government within its Constitutional bounds.
Second, the Judicial branch has basically waived any oversight functions it could have once performed; in order to get the judiciary involved in a case it would have to be the Executive branch suing itself, since the judiciary has decided that no one else has “standing” to pursue most oversight cases.
Third, the remaining avenue of oversight is the Legislative branch but any members of the same Party as the current President are incentivized to overlook Executive abuses as long as they also advance the Party’s interests.
And so we end up drifting gradually into very, very dangerous political territory. The only thing that’s kept this from happening earlier is shame, and politians are an increasingly shameless lot.
There’s actually a pretty simple solution.
Break the Executive branch into two parts, one which continues to perform all the normal functions of the Executive branch and one which contains all the current oversight offices and staff; let’s call them the Functional Executive and the Oversight Executive.
Each sub-branch would have their own elected leader, call it the President for the Functional and the Citizen’s Advocate for the Oversight but (and this is important) make the Advocate be the person who came second in the election for President. This would effectively guarantee that the President and Advocate would come from different parties and very strongly incentivise the Advocate to be effective.
This would also create a new entity that would have standing in the courts to force the Judicial Branch to do its job.