I would argue we actually have a "triple government", with the special interest groups serving as the third branch. Some reformers focus on the ways moneyed interests donate money to influence the outcomes of elections, and there is much of that, but by far the most important way they influence policy is by placing their minions in key positions in the bureaucracy, legislative staffs, the courts, academia, and major corporations.
So the next time you try to elect a candidate, and he actually wins, but policy doesn't change much, keep all this in mind. Now the wrong candidate, if elected, can make serious mistakes, such as sending us into war, but chances are there isn't much he can do to improve things.
Don't support candidates who say things you want to hear, because forceful rhetoric is more likely to be a sign of someone who would make mistakes if elected. About the only way a senior elected official can make things better is through placement of better people in key positions that will outlast his term of office. That is why appointments to the Supreme Court are likely to be the most important things a president does.
In an interview with reporter Sarah McClendon, President Bill Clinton said, "Sarah, there’s a government inside the government, and I don’t control it." She was asking about UFO disclosure, but it could have been about anything.
So your vote makes even less difference than you think. If you want to really make a difference, you are going to have to become part of the System and work for change from the inside.
Glennon was legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to various congressional committees, as well as to the State Department. “National Security and Double Government” comes favorably blurbed by former members of the Defense Department, State Department, White House, and even the CIA.
There is a long history of judges who departed from the expectations of those who nominated them. Part of the problem is that to be predictable one needs to have a paper trail that indicates his or her views, but nominees with long paper trails tend not to be confirmed, because they can be seized upon by opponents in the Senate. They can also change their views once on the court with further knowledge and reflection. Roberts, for example, was a disappointment to those who nominated him. It does improve the odds to elect the right president, but I have met enough nominees for the federal bench to learn that the vetting process is incredibly loose, depending more on "who knows who" than on real knowledge.
I remember one nominee for the federal bench whose confirmation was delayed, so while he was waiting he was parked in the Justice Department, with a portfolio on international law. Before he spoke to our Austin Federalist Society Chapter I asked him to tell me what he knew about letters of marque and reprisal (I have many examples in a page on our site. http://constitution.org/mil/lmr/lmr.htm ) He replied "I don't know anything about it." We got it in American Government in high school. It is one of of the things anyone with his responsibilities should have been able to explain. From other conversation I soon learned he was just another hack government lawyer.
Many things are needed and one of them is intense constitutional education, from elementary school through law school, but the fact is that law schools mainly prepare students to pass the bar exam, and teach almost nothing on constitutional history, law, and government. Anything lawyers learn about those things tends to be "law office history" that is mockworthy to professional legal historians.
Also on our site is a textbook, the American Manual, which provided such education to high school and college students ion 1854. It covers the Constitution in great depth, including jury and militia duty. http://constitution.org/cmt/burleigh/amer_man.htm
A better reform would be to appoint judges to a general pool rather than to a particular court, then draw them at random to serve for limited terms on each court, and to each case. Another would be to require them not to consider case precedents until after exhaustive historical analysis of primary sources. That would change how lawyers argue their cases. As I said, most lawyers with cases before the courts don't know enough about constitutional principles to brief their arguments that way. Judges and lawyers don't come to court as experts. They learn on the job, from the cases they handle. If they don't get constitutional cases they may never learn anything about it.
After 60 years of research and reflection on constitutional principles I have come to the dismal realization that the people, who have the ultimate responsibility to enforce the Constitution, are just not very good at it, and they would need to be to do something like elect the best judges to make accurate constitutional decisions. That is not easy to do. I am still learning after 60 years. I estimate there are fewer than 200 real constitutional experts alive, none of them is on the bench, and most are not well known in elite circles or to activists. We have links to some of them at http://constitution.org/cs_peopl.htm
Most voters are like drivers who can know that something is wrong with their car, but don't have a clue what the problem is or how to fix it. They simply don't know enough to decide who would make the best candidate for a judicial position. They don't even have that for legislative or executive positions. They tend to follow demagogues and snake oil salesmen.
Hint: If a candidate knows and does what it takes to win an election, we don't want him. The best choice is almost certain to be someone who doesn't want the job. Dig deep and try to find that kind to vote for.
We don't want judges elected, and we don't want them appointed by the elites. That leaves some other method, such as sortition, or random selection, the way juries are supposed to be selected, but from a pool of the best educated in the law, especially constitutional law, and that doesn't mean what is taught by that label in law schools.