Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Proposal To Reform How We Choose Legislators

We need to return government to the people, and the best way to do that is to get rid of ALL "elected" legislative bodies. That sounds like a radical, undemocratic proposal, but first listen to the rest of it:

First, though, some background. The problem with politics is politicians. Without the interference of politicians, politics wouldn't be so dirty, underhanded, partisan, and corrupt. As I laid out in an earlier post (here or here) the framers of the Constitution intended that the legislative branch be a part time body, that meets "at least once each year". That clearly suggests that they intended that those who serve as legislators should do so in addition to their 'real' job, not as their 'real' job.

So how, then, do we rid ourselves of professional politicians? I have always been impressed with our jury system. We have judges who ensure that a trial is conducted fairly and within the law, and we have attorneys who prosecute and defend the accused. But we reserve to the common people—plumbers, secretarys, engineers, shipwrights, welders, bartenders, window installers, housewives, etc.—the right to render judgement on guilt or innocence. Jury pools are selected from the population in different ways, but usually it is from voter registration records, driver's licenses, etc. If such a system works for the criminal justice system, why can't it work for selecting legislators as well?

My proposal, then, is to select a pool of potential legislators each year from a similar database of potential legislators, or possibly from a new database created just for this purpose. This pool would be selected randomly by lottery, and once selected for the pool an individual would not be eligible for some period of years hence to ensure a good cross-section of potential legislators if freshly available.

This pool would meet, perhaps in smaller, local conventions to debate and select those from the pool who will actually serve as legislators. The selection process would be something like the way a jury deliberates, with some rules about eligibility such as willingness to serve, availability to serve, family obligations, critical work responsibilities, convicted felons, etc. Once the actual legislators have been chosen, they would report for legislative duty at the appointed place and time set aside for the legislative body to meet.

There would have to be laws requiring that employers hold open the jobs of those who serve, and continue to pay their salary, but government would reimburse employers to some level for the employee chosen to serve.

A system like this would be radical, I know. But it would also have many benefits. Most importantly, it would eliminate professional politicians. We'd all be legislators, or potentially be legislators, and we'd all bring our own personal experiences, beliefs, and biases to the process of legislation. I trust the people who actually live under and sometime stuggle under the laws passed by the legislature to have the better judgement than professional politicians who do not.

When a piece of legislation is up for debate on plumbing, for instance, I would trust the people who have made plumbing their life to best decide than a professional politician. I trust the retired stock broker to render the best judgement on whether new securities laws are necessary.

I trust the people over politcians.

This post also appears on Blogger News Network.

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