A novel political experiment

If there is one thing that this current election season is teaching us, it’s that the American people are fed up. That much is painfully obvious. Just witness the rise of Donald Trump. People are pissed off at the system. Congress has an approval rating that hovers somewhere in the low teens. You have an entire political party that’s either bent on obstructing everything the other party does without compromise or wants to just shut the whole thing down, implode it from the inside.

So of course Americans are upset–a lot people people are either reaching a boiling point at the gridlock in Washington or are just starting to realize how badly that kind of nonsense screws everyone over. But I have a solution. It’s rather…different. Unique, if you will. But I truly believe that it would solve all of our political problems. Just hear me out on this one.

Replace congressional elections with random selections by a computer, kind of like when you’re called for jury duty.

Now, naturally, such a system would need rules, so here they are:

  1. Everyone over the ages set forth in the constitution for service (30 for the senate, 25 for the house of representatives) gets assigned a random number and fed into the aforementioned computer system.
  2. No more six year terms for senators. Everyone gets two years.
  3. At the beginning of every two year cycle, the computer will randomly select people by state to fill out the senate and the house.
  4. If for some reason a person chosen is unable to serve (illness, advanced age, etc) another person will be randomly selected to take their place.
  5. Repeat every two years.

This probably sounds insane. How could we give the keys to the congress to a group of random people? Isn’t that kind of a big deal? Well, we already select juries in a matter similar to this, and think of how serious a duty it is to serve on a jury–lives literally hang in the balance sometimes. If we can thrust people into a complicated and convoluted legal system and trust them to make a fair decision, I say they’re ready for the damned congress.

Now let’s address how this would benefit the system and the country as a whole:

  1. No more campaigning. The entire damn thing lasts entirely too long. Why the hell does it take an entire year (or more) to have an election? More than that, whoever gets selected to serve wouldn’t have to spend so much of their time stumping and begging for money. They could, you know, do their jobs instead of running never-ending campaigns.
  2. No more career politicians. Under this new random system, if you get a crappy congress you only have to deal with it for two years, then everyone is out and a new group of people and new group of ideas and convictions is in. It’s pretty simple and it’s pretty fair. You wouldn’t get the same assholes and idiots re-elected over and over again by people who have no clue how the system works or who are idiots and assholes themselves.
  3. Screw you, lobbies and special interests. If the members of congress no longer have to run for office, then they won’t be beholden to lobbies and other big groups who donate big money to their re-election efforts. Sure, lobbyists would still be there, trying to influence elections, but without those purse strings to hold over the heads of politicians, they lose a lot of their bite.
  4. A congress that actually looks like the America is serves. Most of congress is rich, white, Christian men. In case you haven’t noticed, the amount of people in this country who are rich is a minority, white people will soon be the minority, and the number of religious folks in this country is on the decline. Under the random system, we might actually get people serving who actually understand the plights of all the different groups in this country. Can you imagine a congress where Latinos, Asians, gay people, atheists, young people, women, etc were all members? Diversity is a good thing! Diversity is where our best ideas come from. And if you want a fair government, it has to accurately represent EVERYONE. Politicians talk all the time on the campaign trail about how diversity is America’s greatest strength–then they head home to a lily-white congress.
  5. No more assholes. Politics has a way of attracting douche bags. Turns out that egocentric, power-hungry people are more likely to run for positions of power. Randomizing assignments to congress would probably eliminate that. Imagine a congress full of people with decency, humility, conscience.
  6. Bye-bye partisan politics. Strange how there are so many diverse viewpoints in this country, yet only two major political parties. Strange how most of the people in this country identify as independents, yet most of congress is full of people from the two major parties. Randomly assigning people would eliminate all of this hyper-partisan bullshit and power struggle drama between the two parties. Statistically, you’d most likely end up with a good balance of liberals, conservatives, moderates, etc.
  7. People who know what the fuck they’re doing. Enough businessmen and lawyers. We tried that and they fucked it up royally. Contrary to popular belief, other people beside businessmen and lawyers have things to contribute to the decision making process. Can you imagine scientists in congress? Or, heaven forbid, accountants? If you had scientists and accountants in congress you’d probably get the budget fucking balanced.

I can already hear people screaming, “BUT WHAT ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY?! Construction workers and burger flippers who might get picked have no clue about the world!”

Maybe they do. But even if they didn’t, so? We have ambassadors, diplomats, and a president for a reason. Beyond that, though, how much foreign policy experience does any politician have when they first run for office? Do you think any of the assholes currently sitting in congress had a clue about any of that stuff before they got there? Fuck no, get the hell out of here.

Look, I get that this is a radical idea. And it’ll never happen. It’s a pipe dream. But I think it has merit, and I think it could deliver results. At the very least, a group of random people couldn’t possibly fuck things up anymore than the current cadre of clowns and morons sitting in the capitol already have. Given the current and complete ineptitude of the congress, we literally have nothing to lose giving this a try.

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10 thoughts on “A novel political experiment

  1. Thanks for this blog post regarding your political experiment; I really enjoyed it and am definitely recommending this blog to my friends and family. I’m a 15 year old with a blog on finance and economics at shreysfinanceblog.com, and would really appreciate it if you could read and comment on some of my articles, and perhaps follow, reblog and share some of my posts on social media. Thanks again for this fantastic post.

  2. Excellent proposal, Ryan, for those who dare to view our government with new eyes!

    Especially like Rule #2. Our current government serves the needs of the One Percent and not we the people.

    “What about foreign policy?” In a proposed system such as yours, our education system would have to be more broad based, including trade and foreign policy, to prepare citizens for their possible future role in governing. I’m surprised about how little some Americans know about the world beyond their borders.

  3. I was not even thinking about foreign policy. I was too caught up in thinking about the hoards of people in my city alone who can only barely read and/or write. Hell, I know people who are completely illiterate. Don’t get me started on people’s general inability to do basic math…. or their thoughts on pajamas being perfectly acceptable clothing choices for their day in court. It’s a sad state of affairs where I live.

    That being said… so long as there is some type of screening process that can and will assure me that those selected to be in charge can pass something like a GED as well as some sort of common sense test, then I’m on board with your idea.

    1. I thought about that, too. Then the cynical part of me thought, “Well, considering the general state of congress now, would high school drop outs really be any worse?” All joking aside, I wouldn’t mind some sort of literacy test.

      Thinking about that, though, I’m sure you’d face all sort of legal hurdles from a constitutional standpoint. It’s illegal to make someone take a literacy or intelligence test to vote. And there’s nothing in the Constitution that says people need to be able to read or even write to be in the government–which isn’t that surprising, considering that most people in revolutionary times had no formal education to speak of. Hell, even Lincoln never finished any formal schooling, and he was a terrific president.

      BUT! The constitution is an imperfect document that needs updating anyway. The rules of the late 1700s shouldnt necessarily be applied to 2016. And just because its currently ilegal to require testing for voting or an IQ test to be in the congrest doesn’t mean those wouldnt be improvements over the current wat of doing things. Hell, even without this hypothetical system there should probably be an IQ test to serve the government or to vote.

      1. Agreed. I mean, we did elect George W., after all. That man is a pillar of 40watt darkness. Some test proving he could put his own pants on… it would have kept him out of office. And provided us some comedy gold had someone put that test on youtube. No, no, Georgie… not on the arms… it’s not a shirt. I think that man might really be Mister Noodle from Elmo’s World.

        Tell ya what though, if we had any person around these days with the character and convictions of Lincoln… oh that would be freakin amazing. Nowadays we would tear him apart. Nowadays all we have to pick from is the least horrible of the horribles, it seems.

  4. The idea is fascinating…I guess the only con that comes to mind is the reverse of the whole “We’d only have to deal with the idiots for a little bit.” If someone good got in (literally by chance) and made some real positive change, that change may not have time to take root before the change-maker is replaced with someone who does not care to continue the work.

    1. That’s a very interesting point that I didn’t consider. I guess I’m so used to a non-functional congress, that a productive one is foreign. Any ideas on how this little hiccup could potentially be ameliorated?

      1. I think that a grading method could be devised where each person acting in a political role could be measured by their productivity (programs they voted for that can be quantitatively proven to have improved their target recipients, for example.) These grades could be tied into the chance calculations, giving more successful government officials higher chances of being re-elected. Of course, to determine and agree upon such a scale would be the difficult part.

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