Government Proposals Congress Elections By Lottery Part 1

About a government proposal to change Congressional elections to a lottery or jury duty style format.



Support Democracy: End Elections

In The People's Almanac #2, Russell E. Simmons of Raton, N.M., suggested that candidates for legislative offices be chosen at random instead of by political parties. I support the premise of this proposal but would like to take it further.

I propose that congressional elections be eliminated entirely and that the members of Congress be selected instead by lottery, much the way that juries are selected now. The current system doesn't work because the voters of most districts are forced to choose between two candidates they don't want. Also, 83% of congressional elections are won by the candidate who spends the most money. The winner then sets out on his path towards becoming a professional politician, selling his soul to wealthy campaign donors, lobbyists, and political action groups.

The Founding Fathers may have conceived the present form of government as a representative democracy, but it hasn't worked out that way. Members of Congress are overwhelmingly upper-class, white males. Half of them are lawyers and another third are businessman. Some may argue that lawyers and businessmen are, more often than not, the most qualified people in our society to make laws, but I disagree. Just as it is the role of generals to fight wars, not declare them, so it should be the role of lawyers to write laws, not make them. The making of laws is a moral task, and right morality is not limited to lawyers, to say the least. Likewise, successful businessmen may have proven themselves adept at turning a profit in private life, but their extensive participation in government has done nothing to prevent the country from going $1 trillion into debt.

Some may argue that the average citizen does not have the specialized knowledge that is needed to evaluate budget requirements, allocate funds, and vote on issues dealing with international relations. But not very many of our present members of Congress are qualified to handle these issues either. That is what congressional staffs are for. These staffs, particularly committee staffs, have been growing steadily since the 1890s and have been mushrooming since 1947. There are currently 44 staff members for each congressional representative. These are the people who research issues, provide statistics and alternatives, and actually prepare bills, leaving the 535 members of Congress free to concentrate on voting, attending committee meetings, and wielding power.

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