Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reforming American Politics Counter-Intuitively

[The following reprint from May 29, 2009 at Eternity Road was evoked by the enormous popularity of the Ineducability piece. I didn’t mean it seriously at the time. Perhaps the time has come to take it so. -- FWP]

The esteemed Charles Hill has picked up a comment of your Curmudgeon's from this post of a few days ago, and in so doing has sparked a delightful discussion about political term limits and related subjects.

Your Curmudgeon's favorite contribution so far is this one, from commenter Kirk:

Personally, I prefer a variation on the Groucho Marx line about refusing to join any club that would have him as a member; I sometimes think that the mere expression of desire for an elective office should be disqualifying.

Which caused your Curmudgeon to rev his mental engines. Not for the first time, of course -- the subject of political ambition and what usually accompanies it is never far from his thoughts -- but this time, something new bubbled to the surface.

If our public offices are to be filled by men who don’t want to be there, then we must conscript them. The Thirteenth Amendment would appear to forbid that. But the Amendment contains an escape clause:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

…so we could draft convicted felons to serve as our public officials! That would seem to slay two vultures with one stone:

  1. No elections, no campaigns, and no pandering;
  2. No more worries about governmental corruption: we’d know with perfect certainty that everyone in office is dishonest.

It would even be possible to improve on the technique by establishing, as a matter of law, that only certain categories and ages of felons are eligible for political conscription. Your Curmudgeon would suggest:

  1. One-time impulse killers for President;
  2. Armed burglars for Congress and the Senate;
  3. Bunco artists for the federal courts;

...with a lower age limit of 60 in all cases. More, these categories would be reserved to federal use. The states, counties and municipalities would have to make do with other kinds of slimeballs:

For the state governments:

  1. Extortionists for state governor;
  2. Forgers for the state legislatures;
  3. Stalkers for the state courts.

For county governments:

  1. Legbreakers for county executive;
  2. Pickpockets for the county legislatures;
  3. Three-card-monte hustlers for the county courts.

And last but certainly least, for municipalities:

  1. Slanderers and libelers for mayor or town supervisor;
  2. Numbers runners for city or town council;
  3. Spousal abusers for town and family courts.

There are approximately 500,000 elective offices in these United States, and about two million persons incarcerated for the crimes enumerated above, so there are at least as many candidates for the positions as would be required to fill them. At long last, we could solve the problem of political corruption, the problem of criminal recidivism, and the problem of finding useful employment for the ex-con! It’s a cancer cure. A veritable cancer cure!


Weetabix said...

Not so fast! You could always try entrapment.

The BATFE has recently been recruiting the mentally handicapped to run front operations for stings, then convicting the people they hired.

Get some BATFE folks to recruit the mentally handicapped, and you'd have a twofer - unwilling people who ALSO had low IQ's. I don't know how to link in comments, but you certainly remember your post about not letting the intelligent run government.

Although one might credibly argue that our current rulers already fulfill one of these requirements spectacularly...

Or what if you entrapped small business bookkeepers or owners and told them they had to serve until they'd demonstrably done something to roll back government waste, excess, or fraud? The first ones would obviously pick the low-hanging fruit

YIH said...

I mentioned previously about the attempt to put a pro-2nd amendment ad during the Super Bowl.
At the time I suggested that it was FOX who actually rejected the ad. I've now since found out, yes the NFL does indeed have a veto on advertisers (note: link to .pdf) and it's specific on the subject:
5. Firearms, ammunition or other weapons; however, stores that sell firearms and
ammunitions (e.g., outdoor stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided
they sell other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or other