Friday, September 5, 2014

Sortition: Solving Political Corruption Through Lottery Selection of Legislators

As boring as the subject is, campaign finance corruption is probably the single core obstacle to good governance in the USA.

It seems plain to any of us that good people from any party want government to balance its budgets, stay away from boondoggles, quagmires, and pork, foster good business, and exemplify egalitarianism, honesty, accountability, and transparency.  As patently obvious as are these values, we find that our elected politicians fail to honor them once they get to office.  They wind up serving big money interests instead of these broad interests of the people.
Why does this happen?  What is systematically so broken that it consistently and effectively prevents good leadership?  The answer is that the road to political office is paved with corruption.  Nobody but a saint can walk the road unsullied, and a saint is not inclined to walk such a road.
The moment I intend in my heart to run for political office, I begin to make decisions that compromise my dedication to the common good and that shift my focus away it.  I decide how to change my haircut, how to frame my positions palatably, how to get endorsements from celebrity politicians, and, most significantly of all, how to pay for all the signs and ads I must buy.
By the time I get to national office, getting and keeping an office is so demanding that, in the words of some of our senators and congress representatives, "from the day I get to office, not a day goes by that I don't think about how I am going to raise funds for my re-election campaign".  So much for focusing on the difficult task of good governance!
One proposed political reform I really like is Sortition, or the lottery selection of legislators.  The Wikipedia article on Sortition explains some of the sortition schemes that have been proposed and studied.  One reasonable approach I like is to randomly select the same percent of legislators as the number of voters who do not vote. "Every absentee voter is choosing sortition, so, for example, with 60% voter turnout a number of legislators are randomly chosen to make up 40% of the overall parliament. Each election is simultaneously a referendum on electoral and lottery representation."
One way or another, the campaign road with its corrupting demands of funding and pandering must be reduced or eliminated eventually on the way to a better future.  In the long term that may likely include some form of sortition.  In the short term, that must involve supporting candidates who deliver campaign reform votes.  If you have money, consider organizations like MayDayPAC, that are fighting fire with fire.  If you have time, consider joining organizations like WolfPAC, that are lobbying state legislators for campaign reform via constitutional amendment.  Together we can solve our government problems by sparing our legislators from the sullying journey down the campaign road.

No comments: