I was listening to my usual drive time radio talk show yesterday on 97.1 (the Dave Glover show) and I believe Dave was talking to Glenn Beck on the phone (I'm not certain, I missed the beginning of the segment). Anyhoo, they were talking about how the media and then subsequently Washington get wrapped up in issues nobody or not many people give a flying rat's fart about, like this flushing of the Quran business. First of all they were wondering why that was even a story - which I agree with (yeah, wtf?) - and then they were wondering why the Government was getting so bent out of shape about it. It was an unproven allegation that somebody flushed a goddamn book for crying out loud. Beck made a good point in saying that if he were in prison somewhere and somebody flushed a Bible he wouldn't have given a shit because the words are inside him. It's just a book!
But I'm straying too far from the point I intend in making here. Dave Glover said something that struck me, something that makes a lot of damn sense: if your average Joe Hardhat were up in Washington legislating and not these say-nothing, do-nothing politicians, people only interested in pushing their own agendas and worrying about book-flushings instead of the real, important issues (like Social Security reform), we'd get a hell of a lot more done!
So it got me to thinking...
If I had my own country (yes, yes, yes, I know we've ALL had thoughts starting out with those six words, but bear with me) I would set government up like this:
First of all, legislators aren't elected. Nobody runs for these offices. Because that leads to politics and in this scenario politics is avoided as much as possible (yes I know politics creeps into everything and you can't avoid it entirely). My main concept is that every four years, using a sophisticated computer program, people from each district, province, or state (however my country is subdivided) are randomly selected to serve as lawmakers from that area. The beauty of this is that they could be anybody. White, black, yellow, every color in between, man, woman, young, old, doesn't matter. I would probably put some sort of age restriction, like maybe at least 25 years old and no older than 60. This would be to prevent gross immaturity and senility. Anybody ever convicted of a crime is out, too, as well as anybody not a citizen of the country. And anybody crazy or retarded or suffering from some other type of mental disability would be excluded, too. I'm not saying they would be selected, then disqualified because that would complicate things. Any of these folks just wouldn't be in the database to pull from to begin with.
Like jury duty it would be possible to get out of it if some sort of hardship is presented (but it would be hardships of an extreme nature, not as easy to get out of as jury duty). And it would be a federal law that any employers of selected persons let them resume that job once their four years is up or face stiff penalties.
So these lawmakers would be briefed upon arriving at the Capitol on what bills are currently pending and taught how to submit bills, what format they are to be written in, etc. Maybe they attend a short two week class or something. Then they go about legislating. Imagine this, these common, average folks, presenting and voting on laws, getting to the real issues and not worrying about books being flushed down toilets or what Vicente Fox is saying about blacks. These people would actually be the citizens worried about retirement, worried about taxes, about the educational system (a great number would probably have kids). And if they get selfish and try to introduce outrageous bills like free ice cream for everybody hopefully the other, more sensible selected lawmakers would vote them down. And in my system there is a President to veto or approve bills, like in the United States.
How would the President be elected? By the people, only no Electoral College, and they would be voted on every four years when the new lawmakers are selected. And the candidates for Presidency would be one of the randomly-selected lawmakers from the previous four years and the incumbent. There would be no campaigning, it would be based on job performance. The better you represent your people, the better your chances of being voted President are.
I would have laws preventing these individuals being tampered with. The penalty for bribing them would be a minimum of 25 years in federal prison, absolutely no exceptions. The penalty for accepting a bribe is you're immediately removed from your position and fined $250,000 and spend only a year in jail. People who work the computers that select the lawmakers are just technicians and programmers with no political power. If these people, or anybody else, are caught tampering with the database and the program, life in federal prison, no exceptions. Not even parole or time off for good behavior.
I have all kinds of other ideas for my country, but I'll leave you with this. Now you may commence poking a million holes in my idea and perhaps downvoting me. Have fun.