Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Blaugust 2023: Randomocracy

I rarely post anything even remotely political on my blog.  And my political beliefs can probably best be described as something like, "What the Hell is Wrong With All of You?"  I've often found myself sitting in the car listening to some news story and thinking that the homeless guy asking for change at the intersection could probably do a better job than 80% of the people in higher elected office these days.  

In fact, almost everyone you run into on the street, at the grocery store, or at your kids' soccer game would do a better job.  Okay, maybe not that one dad at the soccer game.  But most everyone else.

I've been spending a decent amount of time on the long drives to my son's school to think about what a framework for a better, more effective government might look like, and that's where the idea of randomocracy was born.

This would obviously be highly controversial.  It would require a complete rewrite of the U.S. Constitution, which makes it essentially wholly impossible but still interesting to think about.  It also effectively does away with democracy, but I'll argue in a way that makes things more representative, not less.  It also basically eliminates political parties because they would no longer be needed.

So here is how it works.  The new structure would maintain the three branches of government that we have now - Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  


There would no longer be a President or a Vice President for the Executive.  Instead, we would randomly draw seven names randomly from the general population every five years, and those seven people would run the executive branch for the next 5 years.  They would move to the White House with their families, each earning tax-free $1,000,000 per year for their 5-year term.  One alternative approach that I thought about with this structure is instead of selecting all seven people at once for a 5-year term, you could choose a new person each year for 7-year terms to replace one person on the team each year.

The only requirement to be selected is to be at least 30 years old and a citizen, although not necessarily natural-born.

Besides this executive committee, the rest of the Executive Branch would stay in place.  Cabinet Secretaries and other senior executive department officials would remain in their roles until the executive committee either decided they were no longer performing and asked them to step down or until those secretaries voluntarily resigned.  In any case, the executive committee would recruit and interview replacements once that happened, based on the candidates' actual expertise in the field for the relevant department.


This would work similarly to the Executive Branch.  Instead of having two houses of the legislature, you would only have one.  It probably doesn't matter whether the term for representatives is 4, 5, or 6 years, and you could either do it all at once or in tranches, for example, 100 new people selected each year for 5-year terms, but you'd have 500 people in the legislature.  But those 500 people would be chosen at random from among the population.

The requirements to be selected would be the same as for the President, with the one change that the minimum age would be 21, not 30.  

Most of the legislative work would continue to be done in committees based on the type of job you had before selection or your areas of interest.  So, for example, anyone who was a lawyer or judge in real life would most likely end up on the judiciary committee.  

Instead of elections, every three months, Congress could add questions to a nationwide poll that could be both internet and mail-based and would solicit feedback on areas the committees would like public input on.  They could also hold regular town halls around the country as another venue for gathering public input on issues they are considering.  


This would flip from how it works now.  Judicial positions would be subject to 10-year term limits.  When vacancies arose on particular federal courts, candidates could apply, or nominations could be taken, and the judicial committee of the legislature would interview candidates and make recommendations on appointments.  Those recommendations would then need to be approved by the Executive Committee.  Candidates for Appeals Courts would need to have served at least one term at the District Court level, and Candidates for the Supreme Court would need to have served at least one term at the Appeals Court level.  Candidates for District Court positions could be anyone with a legal background, including former Supreme or Appeals Court members.

So that's generally it - my idea for a new form of government called randomocracy.  Think of how much money could be saved on elections and how much more efficient these folks could be without worrying about their next election.  They could be 100% focused on just running the country for their terms of office.  

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