Citizen Assembly

Citizen Assembly,    4/02/2024

WHEREAS President James Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”; and since men are no angels, a government is required; and

WHEREAS the ego of man drives his selfish desires; that man is naturally lazy, and man’s earliest drive is to harness the efforts of others for his own selfish gain; that power over others allows you to control their output; i.e. getting other people to work for you is a force multiplier; and

WHEREAS Dune author Frank Herbert said, “All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts, but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”; and

WHEREAS human’s don’t trust their fellow man, as there is little incentive to be good, and people shouldn’t trust the decisions politicians make, because as George Washington said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence-it is force!”, i.e. government is destructive and controlling; and government work tends to naturally attract those people who want to govern and control; and

WHEREAS William F. Buckley, Jr. from National Review said, “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. Not, heaven knows, because I hold lightly the brainpower or knowledge or generosity or even the affability of the Harvard faculty: but because I greatly fear intellectual arrogance, and that is a distinguishing characteristic of the university which refuses to accept any common premise.”; and

WHEREAS Bill Buckley’s and Frank Herbert’s opinion refers to both the increasingly corrupt elected officials who are pathologically attracted to government; and to the arrogant, compromised, permanent bureaucrats who inhabit our government via the Deep State; and

WHEREAS because human nature never changes, and man should be responsible for his actions, and bear the consequences of those decisions, whether to prosper or to suffer; and citizens of a district are more responsible with decisions that affect them personally than those from outside; and

WHEREAS history has shown us that incentives matter; and systems must be installed to channel personal self-interest toward mutually beneficial aims, i.e. capitalism; and that, if not channeled properly, these interests go off in cruel directions; and cause institutions like government to eventually become a cesspool of venal, entitled personalities, while lording it over others; and

WHEREAS politicians in some sense are to be pitied, since they are constrained by powerful vested interests, media conglomerates, party factions and ideological party members; and

WHEREAS the problems of politics cannot be solved with more politics; and

WHEREAS some system of selecting leaders, legislator or jurors is needed that acknowledges the limits of human nature; and a system which accounts for human greed and ego, and a system that answers the question, “Who decides? while eliminating favoritism and the chance for corruption; and

WHEREAS life and death decisions by our judicial system are determined by a randomly selected jury pool, i.e. an assembly of the accused’s peers; similarly, as the Athenians discovered, random jury or candidate selection would be more fair than backroom trickery; and

WHEREAS a civic lottery, a popular term for the contemporary use of sortition or allotment, is a lottery-based method for selecting citizens for public service or office; and

WHEREAS, two arguments in favor of sortition are that it provides representation (a random panel reflects the composition of the population) and fairness (everyone has a chance to participate); and

WHEREAS in Ancient Athens, the birthplace of western democracy in the 6th century BC; Most Athenians believed sortition (selection by lot), not elections, was the principal way of achieving this fairness; and used procedures with purpose-built allotment machines (kleroteria) to avoid the corrupt practices used by oligarchs to buy their way into office (sounds similar to our current condition); and

WHEREAS by using the civic lottery, the selection of government decision makers is determined by random chance, or “lot”, rather than negative attribute such a money, charisma, social pressure, partisan affiliation, or political connection; and

WHEREAS we trust billion-dollar decisions by randomly selected balls in the weekly PowerBall lottery; and

WHEREAS any issue too complicated for its citizens, is an issue a government shouldn’t handle; and

WHEREAS political elections are expensive, and candidates must make promises to raise money for their campaign, or else be self-funded; and

WHEREAS political campaigning is paid for by money generated in large part by “donations” from lobbyists who are trying to generate a return on their investment; and

WHEREAS this lobbying money, if we were honest about it, we would all admit is basically bribery; and

WHEREAS money buys the soul of the recipient; where the “bought” is controlled by the buyer; with temporary, term-limited, legislators being harder to purchase; and

WHEREAS money flows into lobbying because government decisions determine the flow of trillions of dollars; because a tax or a regulation could devastate/increase a sector; because citizens need protection from their own government and its rules; because lobbying money influences the people who make those decisions; therefore lobbying money provides benefits to the donor; so the system requires us to try and influence those decisions, or else be trampled; and

WHEREAS all governments, over time, become increasingly encrusted with entrenched interests, which need to be cleaned out, preferably bloodlessly by term limits, which would automatically help clean out these barnacles; and

WHEREAS Thomas Jefferson said, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

WHEREAS a direct democracy, where all citizens assemble at a meeting, is too unwieldy, while a republic (a representative democracy) has been historically shown to perform better; and

WHEREAS Thomas Jefferson also said, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the citizens of our nation, that legislative bodies be dissolved and replaced by Citizen Assemblies: randomly selected groups of citizens, who assemble to deliberate on pressing issues of their district, and legislate policies responding to them; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Citizen Assemblies be instituted for each jurisdiction, each Assembly having a fixed quantity of members, the quantity being no less than 101 members, nor greater than 501 members; chosen from that district; its members being registered citizens and residents of that district, ages 18 and up; with the fixed quantity being amendable after two years notice; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, members shall serve only one term of 12 months in the Assembly of that jurisdiction; with one-quarter of the members of that Assembly being randomly chosen every three months, replacing those randomly chosen 12 months earlier; A citizen may only be a member of one Citizens’ Assembly at a time; and shall be compensated for their services at a rate equivalent to twice the median family income, with their employer or business receiving an amount equal to the median family income to compensate them to hold the position open for the Assembly member; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any citizen who after being selected by lot doesn’t want to serve, shall nominate a citizen of that jurisdiction who hasn’t yet served, to take their place for their term; and that both of them be ineligible for future Assemblies of that jurisdiction.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Citizen Assemblies for federal and state jurisdictions act as nominators, and choose one fellow member from their Assembly to represent their House or Senate jurisdiction at the federal or state capitol; and for House, the nominated representative serve for only one two-year term; and for Senate, the nominated representative serve for only one three-year term; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Executive (federal president and the state governors) be chosen by a combination vote, half of the votes coming from the Lower Assembly (House), half of the votes coming from the Upper Assembly (Senate), and serve for only one four-year term.

 

1367 words.

Herb Ripka