A New Theoretical Idea of Governance

My post a couple of weeks ago remarking on Justice Scalia’s passing and politics as usual here in the states brought to my mind again my tongue-in-cheek belief that if a person actually wants to be a career politician, he or she should automatically be banned from running for political office. Because clearly if you WANT to make your career in such a dirty cesspool, there is something at least a little wrong with you. And thinking about that reminded me of a notion I put forth on my Facebook feed many years ago that was immediately shot down by several people. Maybe you’ll all shoot it down too, but follow me down the rabbit hole and really think about this rather than giving it a knee-jerk response.

My idea is that we set up our society to be governed on a lottery system. There would be some kind of computer or machine built that would randomly select people for every office from local to federal level that we’d of course have to figure out a way to make incorruptible. We could keep the age and citizenship restrictions that exist, if we want, but basically when a person comes of age, they automatically get entered into the lottery. You serve one term if selected at whatever level, and then you are INELIGIBLE for ten years following your service so you can actually live and experience real life, thus giving you something to draw on should you be selected again ten years later. Maybe we would make it so that no one can serve the same office twice. Of course, any candidate would have to pass a drug and sobriety test (and I kind of feel like our current lawmakers should take one every time they go into work anyway) and a mental evaluation as we wouldn’t want anyone with dementia or severe mental health issues making decisions that effect so many. We’d probably want to make sure they can speak and understand English at a high level as that is our primary language. So there would be some vetting process, but for the most part, the playing field is leveled.

I can already sense some of you recoiling away from this. But Kat, we can’t risk the redneck hillbillies being in political office, or an inner city drug dealer, or a hooker. We can’t risk being the laughing stock of the world. And to that last part I would say – ummm… too late. Really, do you still delude yourself that America is admired by the rest of the world and has any kind of reputation to protect other than that of top bully in the schoolyard? But seriously, if anything has been taught to us in recent decades is that intelligence and ethics are no longer admired traits nor are they requirements to hold any positions of power, who are we kidding here? And if the veneer of “rich white man” really makes a difference to you, you need to examine your priorities in life. I acknowledge that switching to a society set up in this way is terrifying, but it is also exhilarating to consider. Just stick with me and imagine this post-transition. True equality. A land where you don’t just say “any kid can grow up to be president of the United States” as a bland statement but where it’s a very real possibility. Every citizen knowing that they could be called on at any time to serve a term of office. No more political parties polarizing the people. And the notion of an unwed single mother serving as governor of New York or an atheist President serving with a Born-Again Christian VP is fascinating to consider.

What would be the changes on a societal level? Well, first we would fix up our health and education systems VERY quickly. We’d have to as we couldn’t risk someone who has a 2nd grade reading level as an adult or someone who has easily preventable health issues make us look bad. I think that we’d also make sure that our education included more civics courses, that ethics play an important part at every level, and that every citizen could learn how to form their own opinions and then back up those opinions with facts, in an ideal version of this. Housing needs would be met, because again, who would want the embarrassment of a political leader that was a homeless veteran and would be potentially returning to that life after he served office? In brief, I think a lot of our current issues that get frequently sideswept would get the focus they need and get taken care of.

And what changes would we have on an individual level? Really picture this part in your head. How would you feel growing up knowing that at any moment of your adult life, you could be called to serve a term of office? And if brought to a high enough level, that your entire life history would be brought to the attention of the world? Would you have thought twice about some of the choices you made (and maybe are still currently making)? I think having both that right and that responsibility to be an active participant in government would bring about a lot of positive changes for children growing up under them, but might make many in our current society crack under the pressure. I have to wonder, though, if we would run into the same issues with this that we do currently when people are called for jury duty. I can remember being vetted for a jury case and a veeeeery important businessman started shouting for the plaintiff to die, that he was scum and deserved it, just to get kicked out sooner rather than later. Under this system, would someone take crack just to get out of serving a term? Or pretend to be certifiably insane?

Please note: this is just a theory I’ve kicked around. I’m in no way saying “let’s go out and do this tomorrow!” But imagining a society and a government built like this in the future is intriguing, and it helps me better see the many flaws that exist in our corporate oligarchy that we have today. Maybe it will help you do the same.

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4 thoughts on “A New Theoretical Idea of Governance

    • I don’t think I’d consider this a Libertarian theory. What basically amounts to forced participation in government would fly in the face of what most of the Libertarians I know believe, which unfortunately tends toward wanting individual rights guaranteed without any sense of needing civic responsibility to go hand in hand with those rights. But maybe I don’t know enough responsible Libertarians. :-p

      I think my theory would make a really interesting backdrop for a sci-fi novel. Logistically, it would work much better in a smaller nation than the US. But imagining it at a planet-wide level on a space colony somewhere could create a situation for exploring more of what is wrong currently. Something for me to think about.

  1. I agree that it’s a good backdrop for enjoyable fiction. I wasn’t clear on the cumpolsury nature: perhaps it does fly in the face of some libertarian ideals. Then again, so does Rand & Ron Paul’s pro-life stance, although they take it from the fetus’ perspective as still human w/ & a mothers’ personal responsibility.

    Academic libertarians do however love simple, small-scale hypothetical organized government more than any other faction I know. They’ve shown me papers written on Wild West territory & Viking governments that have a lot of thematic similarity to what you wrote.

    • Viking government was fascinating! I focused on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance when I got my History BA, and for the time period, the Viking culture was a lot more advanced than most of Europe, and women enjoyed quite a bit of freedom comparatively. Maybe that class influenced me more than I thought!

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