Damn….here it is, a damn good idea to get rid of sleazebags and ugly old women (well, we would still get those) and free spending asswipes out of congress! Read this carefully:
Selecting the House and Senate like juries would not be ideal, but it would definitely be better.
It is no secret that elected legislators are generally either inept or heinous. The data confirm that Congresspeople have a lower approval rating than marketing executives and bubonic plague. The only mystery, then, is why we keep them around. Part of the reason seems to be that we can’t seem to think of an alternative way of governing ourselves that isn’t far, far worse. Democracy is the worst thing in the world, so the saying goes, except for everything else in the world.
But what if it isn’t? What if there is a better system of choosing our overlords? In fact, there is: sortition, or random selection. We could do as the Athenians once did, and select our legislators like we select our jurors: by picking citizens off a list, and asking them to govern.
Instead of a legislature filled with the typical crop of ghouls, sleazes, and Small Business Owners, imagine one filled with schoolteachers, pipe-fitters, book-binders, typewriter repairmen, lifeguards, bellydancers, whaleboat captains, flight attendants, and strawberry-pickers. Yes, the occasional petty criminal or podcaster might be drawn by mistake. But such is the diversity of the nation. The randomly selected congress would display a full polychromatic cross-section of America’s extraordinary populace.
As it is, our legislators are intolerable people. The fact that we elect them has failed to make them any better. Choice does not yield superior results; something has gone horribly wrong. In fact, if we had paid any attention to our Greek forebears, we would have been unsurprised. Aristotle said that elections produced oligarchies, but random selection produced democracies. It is difficult not to think he was on to something.
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