Ideas In Radical Democracy

There are two things wrong with our system of elections; the people who run for office and the people who vote the people into office.  The former is true because it is an almost universal truth that anyone who puts so much effort into seeking power is distinctly unsuited to hold such power.  The latter because it is impossible for a member of the general public to make an educated decision on which candidate is truly qualified to hold a position.  The answer is usually “none of them” but we have to go with the system we have.  Or do we?

I am a much higher information voter than the general public and I am woefully unqualified to pick a good candidate for, I would say, 80% of the votes that I cast.  Judges?  Forget it.  Metropolitan Water Reclamation District?  Pshhht.  President of the United States?  Please!  Ok, I’m joking about that last one, but I do seriously believe that the sheer act of running for President of the United States automatically makes you one of the worst people to be allowed to be President.  

But if the people who run suck and the people who vote suck, what’s a Democracy to do?  How about we stop having candidates and stop having votes?  If we want a truly representative democracy, we need a larger pool of potential office holders.  And by larger pool, I mean everyone who is constitutionally qualified to hold that specific office.  You say you’re from Illinois, are 30+ years old, and a citizen of the U.S. for at least 9 years?  Guess what?  You have a chance to become the next junior Senator from Illinois.  How in the world would we manage voting for such a large pool of candidates?  Simple.  We don’t vote.  We hold a lottery.  Your name gets picked, you’re elected.  

Holding office should be a burden, but it should be a burden that everyone is willing to accept if called.  In this way, it would be similar to another burden we all must bear as upright citizens; jury duty.  Jury duty is wholly necessary to our justice system and its one major flaw is that it’s ridiculously easy for people to get out of doing it if they so choose.  With this new system of elections, it would be nigh impossible to shirk the duty.  In fact, I’d change jury duty to be the same way as elections.

Goodbye two party system!  So long good ole boys network!  Ta ta money’s corrupting influence on elections!  See ya dynastic political families!  Au revoir voter suppression.

Sure, there will still be corruption.  Yes, there is a chance that you may get some bad apples elected as a result.  But I believe those odds would be dramatically lowered with this new system.  And with an almost zero chance of being re-elected, those bad apples will be able to cause much less damage than your 18 term Congresspersons of today.

It would certainly be a hard sell.  Voting is so ingrained in our mind as a necessary component of a thriving democracy that people will rail against the idea just on principle.  It would require changing the Constitution at both the Federal and State level and likely also require additional prerequisites for certain positions like judges.  In the end, it all boils down to one idea: A person who has power thrust upon her for a period of time is much more likely to use that power to achieve what they believe in than they are to abuse it to achieve their own ends.

4 thoughts on “Ideas In Radical Democracy

  1. Steven Scott

    Swear to God, this was the exact idea I had for the Battlestar Galactica game my friends were running a few years ago. The only change is that I forbade people from holding office for more than one term (there are still some people who win the lottery IRL multiple times). You also undersell the benefits for not having to campaign for your position for half of your term. Get more done when you are actually in Washington.

    Would you still keep the Senate though? If everything is random, then I don’t see why the Senate should operate as it is.

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      Yes, I would still keep the Senate. I am not entirely sold on the idea of the over-representation of smaller smaller states that the Senate allows, but there are some valid arguments for doing so. Plus, there’s something to be said about individuals whose responsibility is to look out for the needs of the State as a whole instead of each individual district. I’ve toyed with the idea of maybe cutting the term of Senator to 4 instead of 6 years with one-fourth being replaced every year and I would also do something similar with the House and raise it to 3 years with one-third being replaced every year so there is some semblance of veterans in each for any given session.

      1. Steven Scott

        But with your ‘election’ being a random event, the Senators would not be held to looking out for ‘their state’, so the two per state is completely meaningless. Not only that, but you are giving these people a lot of power over a longer time period than the Representatives from the House without any check on it.

        It also occurs to me that you didn’t state if this lottery system would extend to the state and local levels of governance as well?

        1. Jean-Paul Post author

          I don’t get your point. No one would be held to anything period. Kind of like it is now. The only difference is that people would go into the Senate with the knowledge that they’re supposed to represent the State instead of their neighborhood. The whole point is that your randomly chosen person is more likely to fulfill the expectations of the office than under our current system. As to the Senate term, I agree that with the lottery system some of the reasons for Senators having longer terms are moot, but things like stability would still apply. Reps can look to their longer office holding Senators for advice and such.

          Yep, it would be turtles all the way down if I had my way. In fact, I’d start this at the local level because that’s where most of the poor decision making in elections is made. Plus it would please the States Rights fetishists among us.

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