A new type of Congress

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A new type of Congress

Postby easttexas » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:30 pm

I had an idea for a new kind of Congress.

I came up with this idea because I was thinking about what is wrong with Congress. I think the main problem with Congress is career Congressmen and Congresswomen. So how do we get rid of career Congressmen and Congresswomen?

We change Congress so that serving in Congress works very similar to serving jury duty. Unlike jury duty however, serving in Congress would not be mandatory and any citizen that was chosen for Congressionial duty would have the option to decline. An appropriate number of people (I would say around 10,000, but that is just off the top of my head) are selected randomly for each term of Congress.

The selection process would start 2 years prior to the beginning of the Congressional term. All selectee's would be required to pass a competency test. This test would be comparable to a high school civic's final. The test would be given one year prior to the beginning of the Congressional term, giving the selectee's about a year to prepare for the test. All public libraries would be required to keep and maintain study materials for this competency test. Half of Congress would be chosen based on the highest test scores (given the number of selectee's these seats would probably be chosen randomly from the selectee's with perfect test scores). The other half of Congress would be chosen randomly from the selectee's that scored 80% correct of higher.

Just like with military service, if a citizen serves in Congress their prior employer would be required to employ them with appropriate pay when the citizen's term in Congress is complete, if that is the citizen's wish.

Congressional salary would be a citizen's previous yearly salary/wages plus 10%, with a minimum of $50,000.00 and a maximum of $200,000.00.

Being convicted of a felony would disqualify a citizen from serving in Congress.

After serving one term in Congress a citizen would be ineligable for Congressional service for twenty years.

Senators would continue to serve six year terms, staggered, so that every two years one-third of the senators would be "freshmen". Senators serving in their final two years would be required to "mentor" a "freshman" senator.

Representatives would serve four year terms, staggered, so that every year one-fourth of the House of Representatives would be "freshmen". Representatives serving in their fourth year would be required to "mentor" the "freshmen" Representatives from their state.

I do not think this would get rid of corruption completly but I do think it would reduce corruption significantly.

That is what I have come up with so far. This is not comprehensive, of course. Could this system work? If not, why and what could be changed to make it work? What should be changed or added or removed? Or could this system work but do you think the current system is better? If so why?
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Re: A new type of Congress

Postby blahface » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:40 pm

To be honest, I'm not too crazy about that idea. If we have tests like that, I think the system would eventually structure itself to discriminate against a certain class.

An idea that I think *might be worth considering is from each representative's district we select 225 people at random for a two day assembly. During this assembly, the people would get to debate with each other and talk to the candidates for the office in person. The assembly would then use the Condorcet method to elect a representative for that district. With such a small group of people, I think it would easier for the voters to become more informed on what the candidates stand for and the consequences of their positions.
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Re: A new type of Congress

Postby dnick » Tue May 08, 2012 8:10 pm

I agree with the testing being a touchy point (and the easiest to corrupt). I think the lottery type system narrowing the choices down, then given them the same access to the learning materials, but not necessarily giving them a standardized test, but simply letting the debate process filter them out. Relies a ton more on public participation, but allows someone who might have trouble with memorizing dates and procedures to still pass if they have a good understanding of the issues and the needs of the people.

Congress needs people with a broad range of skills and backgrounds, and there's no way a test can be designed to encourage diversity...at best it could show some kind of minimum competency, but for it to be inclusive enough it would be almost worthless. At worst it would just be a convenient point for corruption to pollute the system. A dishonest group would simply find those that could be co-opted and tutor them through to a perfect score and be guaranteed into the 100% slots.

For instance, is it really a 'requirement' that your congressman be able to read and write? Is it a requirement that they do it well? (How many Congressmen with that ability right now actually use it?) What if he/she knew intrinsically what the people of his/her district needed, and was able to offload the details to an assistant? Should we add the burden of a written test to someone with dyslexia? etc...
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Re: A new type of Congress

Postby Kolokol888 » Wed May 09, 2012 5:32 am

Well well looks like someone's been reading up on ancient greek democracy :altwink:

I don't like it. The tests assume smarter is better, which is rarely the case. Using test also guaranties that the assembly would not be representative of the populus (who represents the morons?). In fact the result of this solution would not be 'democracy' in any form.

On a more practical note, and this applies to any arguments for term limits as well, you lose an enormous amount of institutional knowledge. Being a politician is not just having opinions - there's (or there should be) a lot of pure skill and hard work involved as well.
I expect the result would be a bunch of puppets in congress being manipulated by skilled lobbyists, who know the game a hell of a lot better then the congressmen do.
The governmental bureacracy would also be so much more skilled that the congressmen who'd be completely at their mercy, and the bureacracy would become the real power.
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