This was a long semi-researched ramble I made earlier tonight, somewhere else. I present it as a scratchpad, feel free to grab with attribution or present your own cases....
Most of the issue that I see with our modern form of government is that the powers outlined to the congress in the later amendments, powers to "enforce by appropriate legislation", while not wholly wrong as borne out by a couple centuries worth of rulings, violates the spirit of the constitution. When there's a problem or a service to be rendered on a national scale, the traditional means of taking care of it was to have the federal government, by legislation or executive order, forms a department to create binding regulation that apply, if they so wish, universally.
A department formed in such a manner is staffed from the top... nominally by an elected representative, that top staffing is almost always an appointment, and while "vetted" by the house (an abuse of it's own by letter of law, it's supposed to be a confirmation), it's still an unrepresentative appointment. That appointment proceeds to fill out the department by hire; sub-appointments, internal committees... none of which are directly accountable to the people, except by the inbuilt "holes" in federal sovereignty, and legal fictions like the stripping doctrine.
The result of such top-down management is a concentration of power as far away from the citizenry as can be possible within the bounds of the constitution.
The solution: remove those departments from the control of the federal government which constitute regulating bodies controlling matters outside the constitutionally allotted jurisdiction therof. Amazingly, the mechanism for the alternative already exists within the bounds of the Constitution, though some improvements may be made later.
Firstly, satisfy Article 1, Section 10, Clause three... stating that no state may enter into a compact or agreement with another state without authorization by congress.
Let's make an example... the department of widgets. Created at the turn of the 20'th century, it's a classic federal department involved with the regulation of the numbers and types of productions of widgets and their authorized distribution overseas. It's a classic top-down run organization with an executive appointed Secretary.
To reform this organization without removing the benefits (should there be any) while removing the potential for abuse and heavy handedness, we need to move the control mechanism to rest upon a vehicle that's much more accountable and fast-moving. Congress would need to pass a bill that allows for each of the 50 states to form a compact, governing in parliamentary fashion, controlling the Department of Widgets. One or more representatives from each state would be assigned, by whatever mechanism the given state deems required but limited in number by the original compact agreement unless overruled by a parliamentary super-majority, a position in the management tower. Amongst them, they elect a "minister" to their parliament... the new Secretary of Widgets, who performs as an interface to the federal government.
If a state doesn't like the actions of the new Department of Widgets, it can act to change their representative vote by changing the representative to the department. If the citizens of the state don't like how the state is managing their interface with the department, the citizens can change the state government.... a much more responsive and granular control.
Look at the above. A citizen would have only TWO representative layers to a DIRECT change in the behavior of an organization. The federal government would have jurisdiction over the department only in the matters in which is has constitutional authority. States would have much better control over the environment in which they have to function. The capacity for overreach and abuse by the department is reduced by an incredible amount by this, because they're held, depending on the manner the state issues forth it's representation, either directly responsible or responsible through one or two layers of *state* government.
Now, we can take this a step further, perhaps into the twilight zone... taxation. It's a foregone conclusion that the federal government does perform duties and tasks essential to the health of the nation, and that takes money... and a direct taxation scheme in that manner would remain, as distasteful as it seems, appropriate. But if the IRS were broken down from a monolithic department into a state operated compact, the power of taxation for other matters shifts to the state, where it can be a much more fair and controlled method. In fact, the direct federal taxation of the people could be abolished altogether and replaced with a system by which individual states collect taxes to be collected and apportioned to the various other state compact departments and nonessential federal schemes by system of request and dispensation.
The shift of power to the citizenry would be near unprecedented, yet we haven't lost a single government service because of it. States could readily adapt their own taxation schemes to fit their own unique socioeconomic situations. Internal state departments of taxation would be much smaller and much easier to deal with than a single federal department. The level of efficiency could be outstanding, and while it sounds frightening, the effects of experimentation would be much reduced, only affecting the citizens of an individual state, who are more than welcome to vote up or down the new changes with ballots or even their own feet.
Now, this isn't a classic states rights argument... the 14'th amendment and incorporation are well ingrained into the national tort. But it is a re-imagining of the means of control of national government services. Some processes may move slower, this is true... but they move much more carefully, and after all the regulations and rules that come from these departments affect the everyday lives of the citizens.
The improvements to the constitution mentioned above:
1 - an amendment nailing down the meaning of the commerce clause. That and that alone has been the source of more top-down, regimental abuse than anything short of prohibition (18'th amendment)
2 - Strike the 17'th amendment. Direct election of senators may *seem* to be in the interest of the people, but what it ends up doing is removing a check between the state governments and the federal government. At the moment, a state government has recourse against the federal via the judicial branch, which is a misuse; the state governments have no representation whatsoever against the federal government. This protocol could be demonstrated first in the above "fractal government" because in essence the senate itself would be one of the state driven departments, with the purpose to effect and affect federal legislation.
3 - Strike the second clause of the 21'st amendment. That's the one that reads "The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited." and is a prime example of losing the plot... the only other place in the constitution where the PEOPLE are directly restrained is the 13'th, which should stand, prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude (of which a draft *during a time of war* is not, several rulings...)
4 - changes outside constitution: with the striking of the 17'h amendment, remove capacity of senate to amend spending bills. Senate vote should be up or down only.
4b - changes to house and senate rules: all congressional bills must remain within a scope of a particular subject or single issue, and must be read aloud with 80% of the voting caucus in attendance before a final vote.