Monday, December 21, 2009

Spartan Congress

I had a highly impractical idea today to reduce the political careerism that plagues Washington, D.C.
Eric, a friend, pointed out that government from the left or the right inevitably ends up awful, and even government from the center ends up a compromise of pieces from the left and right instead of a coherent center framework.
I believe political careerism (wanting the fame, wanting the glory, wanting to be reelected) is a part of this. How do you reduce careerism? By making it a tour of service, rather than a cushy job. If politicians weren't paid, and had to spend their time in office living in college dormitories on meal plans, stripping away the power and the perks, political office becomes about serving your country.
That's how we treat our military servicemembers; why should politicians have an easier life than those they send overseas to do a much tougher job?
Of course the irony is that legislators would have to pass that legislation, and they're far too self-serving to ever do it. But this country would be better off for it.


  1. Interesting idea--but what about long term policies? If politicians are only around for the short term (and won't be accountable in the long run), they might not care about policies that are costly in the short run but beneficial in the long run...

  2. An entirely reasonable point. But isn't that partially the case now? The only thing making people think about long term policies is the prospects for reelection, but on 99.9% of Congressional proposals, they're small enough that they'll never really be significant in reelection again.
    There's not really a way to force politicians to think long-term except by precommitment to voting patterns (which I've written about before). This proposal brings more idealistic people into Congress, which could have benefits.