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Nowadays, deep and persistent political dissatisfaction permeates American society. Indeed, democracy is still held as the ideal; however, its noble goals have yet to be attained. What captures attention about the social mood is that more and more citizens shift from mistrusting politicians’ actions to disdaining who they are and how they rose to power. Many people claim that those belonging to the Establishment have grown so detached from a common man’s reality that they are barely able to heed citizens’ needs.
When one traces back current politicians’ stories of success, it is easy to see that many of them did not struggle a day in their lives as they came from exceedingly affluent families. The question arises as to whether replacing politicians with regular people could tackle the issue. This essay outlines three reasons why such a decision could be spectacularly disastrous.
The first problem would manifest itself at the selection stage. It is exceptionally strenuous to elaborate a selection mechanism that would enable building a group of people based on non-probability sampling excluding specific demographic cohorts. For instance, those with a criminal record or a history of mental disorders would not be eligible. Developing inclusion and exclusion criteria is likely to be controversial as many people would like to contribute to the discussion about who may be deemed worthy of such a high position. The first “pilot” selection is projected to have various background check errors and allow unqualified people into Congress. One may only imagine how much havoc senile, delinquent, and mentally unstable people could wreak on the work of the US House and Senate.
It is imperative, to be honest about an average American’s legal and civic literacy. A recent survey showed that citizens’ knowledge about the Constitution, the government, and President’s powers are worrisome. For instance, two-thirds of young Americans cannot name the three government branches and their purpose whereas 70% of respondents do not recognize Madison as the Father of the US Constitution (American Council of Trustees and Alumni 4).
It is easy to see why it takes people many years to study law and political sciences even to get closer to understanding the intricate systems which constitute a state. Ordinary people, on the other hand, are susceptible to adopting mainstream, simplified views. Their convictions are often a concoction of what the TV says, what they read on the Internet, and what their peers think. In Congress, they will be offering unreasonable solutions due to their inability to perceive an issue in its complexity. In turn, inadequate solutions will lead to ineffective, inconsistent measures compromising the country’s stability.
Altruism vs Egoism
Being selfish is perfectly normal and necessary for a person’s success and survival. However, being in a position of power takes a great deal of selflessness and altruism to refrain from pursuing one’s interests and focus on citizens’ needs. A recent study showed that common good and teamwork do not prompt young Americans to take action; on the contrary, the thought of interdependency may decrease their motivation (Hamedani et al. 193). Normally, working in Congress does not allow one to be an independent thinker and address the issues single-handedly. However, if selected randomly, ordinary citizens will concentrate on their everyday needs and will be unable to collaborate successfully.
Randomly choosing senators and representatives from each state might be a bold, fascinating idea. Some may even say that given the current political dissatisfaction, such a strategy could reflect the true spirit of democracy and relieve the tension in American society. However, upon further investigation, it becomes evident that random selection would give rise to numerous problems. For instance, it is barely possible to automate the selection process so that it would take into account all the exclusion criteria. Second, the lack of formal education and political knowledge would inhibit the newly formed Congress from making reasonable decisions. Lastly, ordinary citizens are unlikely to overcome their selfishness which will complicate or make cooperation impossible.
American Council of Trustees and Alumni. A Crisis in Civic Education. 2016. Web.
Hamedani, Maryam G., et al. “In the Land of the Free, Interdependent Action Undermines Motivation.” Psychological Science, vol. 24, no. 2, 2013, pp. 189-196.