The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 January 2006

It's your night in the barrel

Robert McHenry in TCS Daily proposes this small Constitutional amendment:

Members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen each two years by lot from among the adult citizens of each congressional district.

Just like jury duty, but for twenty-four months.

Distinct advantages:

  • No incumbents.
  • Very little time to get to know the schmoozers on K Street.
  • Term limits essentially automatic.
  • Seniority system blown to smithereens.
  • Did I mention no incumbents?

Possible drawbacks:

  • You are not guaranteed to be represented by someone smarter than, say, Ernest Istook.
  • The first House so constituted would likely have a surplus of really stupid bills under consideration.

On second thought, strike that second drawback: we already have a surplus of really stupid bills.

William F. Buckley Jr. once opined that he'd rather be governed by the first 2000 people in the Boston phone book than by the 2000-member faculty at Harvard. I can't help but wonder what he would think of this idea. I suspect it would not sit well with the American left, which would reject it, not so much because it sounds somewhat Buckleyesque, but because their particular concept of government calls for Great and Sweeping Ideas, which J. Random Voter is presumably not likely to come up with on his own if suddenly he's thrust into the House. Not that the right is exactly devoid of elitism, as Harriet Miers could probably tell you.

Oh, and one more drawback:

  • Were this to be passed, it would likely be harder to get the 17th Amendment, which calls for the direct election of senators, repealed.

Nobody, not even Robert McHenry, said it was a perfect scheme.

Posted at 2:22 PM to Political Science Fiction


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I sit off to your left somewhere, but I think this is a great idea. Probably closer to what the founding fathers had in mind, and even a random draw could not populate the hallowed halls of Congress with a more curmudgeonly crowd of crooks than our election process has done.

Posted by: Winston at 6:40 AM on 14 January 2006

And if they screw up while in the House, they have to serve in the Senate. Six year sentence.

Posted by: Craig at 3:07 PM on 17 January 2006

Now that's just harsh. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 3:16 PM on 17 January 2006