So as I was driving to work this morning, I came up with the solution to the United States' legislative problems. I know it sounds unbelievable that I, mild-mannered librarian, could solve the nation's woes in one fell swoop, but I really think I've figured it out! We need to turn Congress into a new Hunger Games.
For those of you who are not aware, The Hunger Games is an excellent trilogy of young adult novels written by Suzanne Collins. The books are set in a post-apocalyptic society called Panem where North America is divided into twelve (well, thirteen) districts and governed by a central district called The Capitol. Each year, there is a lottery where two children from each district are chosen to go to the Capitol and fight to the death in a televised competition. It's kind of like Survivor without that crazy torch extinguishing thing... and Jeff Probst.
Here is my plan. First, we inform all of the current senators and representatives that they will be going on a month long furlough. Without pay. Then, each state holds a lottery of all of their registered voters. For simplicity reasons we just keep the Senate, not the House. Two people from each state (regardless of age, political affiliation, gender, etc...) are randomly chosen and sent to Washington D.C. for a month.
Each person selected in the lottery would have their meals and accommodations for the month paid by the government. They would still get paid their regular salary from their regular job -- kind of like they are on jury duty or military duty. They are then presented with a list of national business that needs to be addressed. They have one month to consider and debate all of the issues at hand and then vote at the end of that month on all of the issues. Also, no lobbyists. Just their own thoughts and opinions and the opinions of their fellow state residents. People can vote for their favorite lottery winners and their viewpoints via Facebook polls, and American Idol-like phone numbers and text messages. Hey! Maybe we could get Jeff Probst to host!
This little experiment has the potential to have many benefits:
1) People will realize that it is harder to be in Congress and get things accomplished than they thought and stop complaining about them. OR they will realize that is not that difficult after all and get more accomplished in that month than our current Congress does in a year.
2) The extra money that will be saved from not paying the current Congressmen and women their salaries can go back into paying the federal deficit. It would be kind of like a government shutdown, but would only impact our elected officials.
3) The entire thing will be televised and C-SPAN will earn their highest ratings ever!
Let's be honest, our current government is not really getting anything done. Unless you count name calling and fighting. More people vote for Dancing With the Stars and American Idol than vote in political elections. Now granted, the suspense of waiting for someone to be killed would not be there because we're not killing anyone, people. However, it would be kind of fun to watch Lenny from down the street or your favorite high school English teacher work together (or not) to figure out health care reform or education. At its best, this little social experiment has the potential to solve problems, educate, and promote involvement in the political process. Will this ever, ever, ever in a million billion years happen? Absolutely not. But really, would it be any worse than what we've already got going on? Think about it.