The political party system is broken. There are a few major problems:
- People seek elected office in order to personally benefit (not to serve)
- People in elected office are subject to corruption
- Political parties promise to use their power to give advantage to their voters.
- Parties do not do what they promised at election time.
- Parties are infiltrated by sleeper agents.
Democracy is not a great system,
So let’s fix it. Here’s the plan:
- A new kind of regular political party.
- Criteria: The party has unchangeable public criteria for elected officials
- Qualified candidates: The party makes a list of its members that meet the criteria.
- Simple selection: party candidates are selected from the list completely at random.
That’s it. It’s a values based party, and when you vote for that party, you get someone that subscribes to the values that the party verifies by means of its public criteria. People who like the values and the criteria can vote for the party. People who don’t like the criteria can do as they please.
The principle is this: the party exists only to endorse the principles of their candidates. It exists for a democracy, but is not itself governed by democracy. It’s a bit like signing up for jury duty, but without the lawyers.
A party example
How would it work out? Here’s the kind of party I would support – the “Married Christian Fathers Party”. The criteria for elected officials would be:
- Married: A married man
- Christian: Confesses that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead.
- Fathers: The father of at least two natural children of his own with his wife
- Never divorced, married to a woman never divorced
- Having an actual job by which he provides for his family
I think that these few criteria would tend to select a man who has at least one woman and two children that are able to follow his leadership, and who would have a lively interest in the future. It would tend to exclude losers that are beholden to foreign powers. By choosing men that have a demonstrably proven track record of leadership in one matter (marriage), people with no character and skills would be sifted out. It would not be perfect: but it only has to be better.
It should be possible to have parties for other sets of values that people may consider “electable” – e.g. atheist professionals with Ph.D’s – maybe that is the kind of thing that people will support. Or “national sports heroes” – being people that have attained a certain minimum level of achievement in some sporting code (e.g. at least a bronze medal in tiddlywinks). There may even be a way of organising a party that fields candidates ejected from other parties for corruption and moral failure – and who would not want to vote for that?
Minor details to be thrashed out
Party governance: The party will have to have internal leadership of some sort to ensure that funds are administered correctly, for campaigning, and for conducting the processes of the party. These should ideally be professional people (and some volunteers), and they should be overseen by a board of trustees, with random selection of qualified people (i.e. those that meet party criteria) in and out of the board every year for four year terms. This would be a good test of whether the party is able to organise itself on the basis of its chosen criteria: if the party implodes under its own incompetent leadership, then it will automatically shield the general public from having to vote for it.
Consecutive terms: It would be useful to have elected representatives that continue for multiple terms. I think that the decision about whether an elected representative should be offered in the following election without being selected by lot should be a 2:1 coin flip (i.e. 2 thirds of officers are retained, one third is replaced, completely at random).
Random numbers: The mechanics of selecting from a complete list would be like this:
- A list should be made, and numbered (starting at zero, to avoid adding 1 later)
- Twice as many candidates as are needed should be selected
- Each candidate selection should be calculated as the sum of at least three random factors, one of which is a computer-generated random number (from a competent random source, such as /dev/urandom), and two of which are proposed by party members in a secret ballot — that sum, modulus the number of candidates.
- After candidate selection, candidates must be examined to determine whether they actually do meet the qualifications.
- Candidates that are found to be unqualified, or unwilling to stand for election, must be summarily expelled from the party.
- If there are no qualified candidates available in a particular area, the party should not offer any candidates for election, but seek to recruit people that meet the party standards.
Conduct in office: Should an office bearer become unqualified during the course of his representation, then he should be expelled from the party. If possible, he should be replaced by the next qualified person on the list.
It might be helpful to make the verification of the qualifications of candidates public, so that the public at large can verify that the criteria were followed. No accusations against office bearers should be received without two witnesses, who should be reasonably independent. Accusations against office bearers that do not disqualify them according to the party criteria should have no weight at all (e.g. the office bearer offended someone).
Every office bearer is elected by the party, but serves the public in his personal capacity, and may support any policies that do not disqualify him from being a party office bearer.
It will probably be necessary to have every office bearer take an oath (or put money on the table) that he will resign he position should he be faced with compromise, or intimidation, or blackmail that would effectively cause him to compromise his values.
Unqualified party members: While the party exists to participate in a majority vote system, nothing within the party is done on the basis of majority vote of members. Members that are not office bearers (by reason of not being chosen) are all on an equal standing, whether they qualify as office bearers or not. Party members will have privileges like being able to identify themselves as a member of the party (wear the t-shirt), to participate in the selection of candidates (by submitting number to be added into the random mix, by participating in the vetting process), and submit proposals to the trustees.
Changes to the party criteria: Over time it will probably become necessary to make changes to the party criteria, name, etc. Protections against subversion of the party could include things like prescribed long delays in implementation of changes, prescribed change of party name triggered by changes to fundamental criteria.
Update: I thought that a 50% retention was a bit low … upped that to 2/3 retention.