Monday, March 18, 2013

Is Conscription the Answer?

Our system of justice is based on the theory that we have a fundamental right to be judged by a panel of our peers, versus by the king’s (or state’s) representatives. To ensure a panel of our peers, we use random selection to populate each panel from the general population. (Once upon a time, we did the same to field an army.)

What if our system of governance were similarly based? What if, at all levels, our personal and collective interests were represented not by dissembling politicians, but by conscripts selected by lot?
What if there were no career politicians? No negative campaign ads? No endless electioneering? No gerrymandering. No entrenched partisanship. No daily dissembling? No robo-calls? No PACs? No pundits? No Donald Trumps?

What if our entire culture were built around the requirement that every citizen, however humble in his or her abilities or achievements, must be subject to being conscripted into a position of governance, just as, once upon a time, every male citizen had been held subject to being conscripted into a common defense?
Indeed, isn’t this what a democracy really is?
Could we possibly be any worse off than we are now?

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