Democracy By Lottery

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Pete du Pont manages to floor a person who is arguing that there should be limits on the amount of money that can be contributed to – or spent by – a political campaign.

"But what would you do about all this horrible fund-raising and spending that goes on in campaigns?" she asked. With a cheerful smile (and tongue in cheek), I suggested we get rid of all campaign spending by returning to the Pericles plan of the Golden Age of Greece 25 centuries ago: Instead of electing House and Senate members, have them chosen by lottery from people of constitutional age (25 in the House, 30 in the Senate) in each district and state.

Such a lottery democracy would not only end the campaign contribution corruption that had been discussed in the debate, it would make Congress look like America. Instead of just 16 women in the Senate, there would be about 53; there would be more blacks, Hispanics and younger people and fewer millionaires and senior citizens. And it would allow the billions of dollars now spent on campaigns to be used for other things.

In the astonished silence that followed my response, I could hear the coffee brewing. One thing is certain: we won't be hearing Lottery Democracy argued in next summer's community center debate. Hopefully we will also be spared hearing any more about efforts to erode our First Amendment Constitutional rights either.

It's a pretty interesting read. Du Pont discusses the problems inherent in any attempt to cut off the amount of money spent in campaigns. He makes some strong arguments. I would only suggest that it would be a very good thing to require any advocacy group that publishes "issues ads" to fully and transparently disclose where every dime they spend comes from. That, I think, is something that is past due. Let us see who is really paying to influence an election – right up front. Spend what you like, but tell the people where it came from. Simple, isn't it?

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One Response to Democracy By Lottery

  1. Pete DuPont was the first Republican I ever supported. He’s always been different.

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