77 Comments

3 Things are needed:

(1) Remove money from the requirement of being elected. It is such a waste to spend millions of dollars on an election.

(2) Shorten the time of the election. No one needs 1 1/2 to 2 years to decide who to vote for. Six weeks to three months and no longer than six months is all that is needed.

(3) Term Limits

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Aug 25, 2023·edited Aug 25, 2023

Maybe you don’t mean it literally, but hey…I’m over here thinking “why the hell not!?” It’s not as if we could do worse.

I appreciate you engaging people in thought…or your endeavor to do so, anyway! The current experiment certainly needs to be overhauled and/or replaced!

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The problem as I see it is our system has failed to evolve. That in my view, that is the problem with organized religion, Congress, our views on the ecology, politics, etc etc etc..while the earth evolves, while we evolve (very slowly), our institutions do not.

I agree that experimentation is needed.

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In the film Armageddon, Bruce Willis's character asks NASA (paraphrasing) "is this the best you could come up with?". I'm not in a position to comment on elections processes of other countries, however I often wonder, - for the size of the country, what it is supposed to represent on the global stage, and how it want to be seen, when they select nominations for leader - "of all the people you have, is that genuinely the best you could come up with?"

Nice article Adam. Thanks for sharing.

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I completely support what you are saying. I also believe that good character is one of the most important traits we should seek in a candidate, even if that seems impossible at the moment.

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I'd propose the Gore-Tex corporate governance model, kind of an inside out leadership.

The idea is that workers belong to (assigned) small groups, about 20. The workers elect their own representative from the group, and are free to recall that representative at any time and elect another member of the group.

The group leaders get together, in the same way, a small groups,and elect their own leader as their representative, which they can vote to recall and replace at any time. We proceed like this to the CEO, which is elected by a board beneath them, that can, again, recall the CEO at any time.

The purpose of groups is to meet periodically on issues that affect them. Every step up, however, is concerned with a different set of issues on a longer time line. Line workers may be concerned with weekly schedules and a fair distribution of the week's work, their leader attends to longer range issues, perhaps a month or quarter, supply issues, etc. The CEO is ultimately responsible for the five year corporate strategy, opening or closing plants, dealing with shareholders, entering new markets (or withdrawing), etc.

It is the power of recall that keeps group representatives honest, all the way down to the individual workers (or in our case, adult citizens).

Workers are, reportedly, quite satisfied at Gore-Tex, happy with their jobs and advancement if they want it, etc.

We could adjust the model for voters; so we can choose our groups, and allow some groups of plus or minus 1 to ensure everybody can be in a group. This would be a more representative form of government: The consensus of your group represents your feelings more accurately.

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If you've not yet familiarized yourself with STAR Voting (https://www.starvoting.org/), you owe it to yourself to do so. It's an existing, highly viable and evidence-based alternative to the "hold your nose and vote" status quo. Originating here in Oregon, it's garnering small, if growing interest worldwide. STAR Voting is easy to use, easy to tally (just two rounds, vs. Ranked Choice's confusing system), and highly representative of both the depth and breadth of a voter's preferences. Working a little like Yelp, it lets you give highest , 5-star scores to your favorite(s), whether or not they stand a strong chance of winning, but still have your next-best preferences count if your most favorite doesn't make it into the final tally. It's far better structured than Ranked Choice. Seriously, this one's for real, not a fantasy. I encourage you to give it a look-see.

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Over time, we have become more of a entertainment-oriented culture, so we generally hear sound-bites rather than read position papers. The polarization that we see is mainly a result of laziness more than anything. Voters won't do the difficult work of learning about issues and sifting through the rhetoric presented by candidates. It's easier to take extreme positions on issues rather than understanding the trade-offs involved with any policy decision.

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Lottery is how the Doges were elected in Venice - they had a very convoluted system to avoid corruption and it seemed to work ok for quite a while!

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Aug 26, 2023·edited Aug 26, 2023

As an economist, I have frequently thought that I seldom find what is supplied to be a surprise but am often surprised by demand. That Trump would want to be President is not surprising or, frankly, of much interest or concern by itself. What is astonishing is the breadth and nature of demand for him. (sorry, a personal example, insert Biden if that appeals). I would also observe that, with the exception of the one office that everyone votes for, more commonly the persons we want to oust are people for whom we don't have a vote (Pelosi, Cruz, etc, etc). I find that frustration to be irrelevant. If West Virginia voters truly want Manchin, then that is for them to decide. So, my frustration with "your choice" is not a reason to change the system. For me it boils down to why do we end up with candidates that make a majority (or a lot) look for door #3. Personally, I think a huge problem is that 1) most voters don't want to do the homework and thus look for someone to tell them who is good and why which leads to 2) the need for big money to create a media heavy promotion which in turn requires 3) backing by big money which 4) means a small number of very wealthy and totally unrepresentative people get to decide who is going to have the tools for a successful campaign. Selecting government officials like ping pong balls in a rotating wire ball is one solution to this, but if the real issue is campaign financing, then there are other, very different options. It is also well to keep in mind that for offices that are not term limited, the need for money is perpetual. It has forever been the joke in the House that the first day of the next campaign is the day after the last election. For at least a few decades now, this has also become the observation for Senators. This leads to an addiction for money to stoke the habit. Does ping pong selection automatically mean one term limits? Logically it must. Is that a good idea? Personally I think having some legislative, governing, and political experience is a good thing, although maybe not so good as to electing people beyond their "best used by" date. thanks for provoking thought about what may well be an existential topic.

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I love the Churchill quote—except that you truncated it and reversed his meaning. The full quote is:

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, and that public opinion expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters.”

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“We haven’t turned public leadership into a profession like law or medicine”? Wait, we most definitely have a professional political class. Universities have majors built around developing the political professional. The whole reason for term limits is to rid ourselves of the professional politician.

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I too proposed this to family members and I was met with the many reasons why it couldn’t be done instead of what could work. I think it is a grand way to reorganize Congress. I would remove the pay to play we currently have. It would discourage careers in dictating to others.

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I think the 2-party political system has gotten too powerful and controlling. All it's giving us is the choice between meh and meh. We need 3rd, 4th, and 5th parties to come along and shake things up. The problem is the media is biased and only promotes the 2 reigning party candidates. When it comes to government I feel like I'm watching theatre and often wonder what is going on behind the scenes that their drama is distracting me from knowing.

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It occurs to me that we do use a lottery in the US.

We use it for juries.

How many people avoid jury service?

How many people blame court decisions on the stupidity of people who couldn't get out of jury service?

Now tell me you did want to put the legal system in the hands of people who couldn't figure how to get out of a two year commitment?

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It's not the system that is the problem. It's simple apathy. Consider that half the adult population never bother to register to vote. Of those that do, 30-40% actually vote...on a good day. That means a small percentage of the entire adult population values their freedom, or understands how voting affects that freedom, enough to participate.

Electing peers, not professional power-mongers, is an essential attribute that preserves freedom and allows "Power to the People" to be more than a platitude.

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