Unwanted Politicians

Here are two positions most any politician can take, yet few ever do:

  1. “If elected, every month I will impanel a new random jury of voters in my district.  I will inform them in detail about my upcoming decisions, and will ask them for their choices.  Then I will just do what they say.  In this way I can assure you that won’t act on my own interests or those of my cronies or donors; I will act as would random informed citizens from my district.”
  2. “I promise that, if elected, I will do X, Y, and Z.  But I don’t just make promises; I show you I am committed to keeping my promises.  My word isn’t my only bond; my house is also my bond.  I have contracted with ABC law agency; they will give my house away to the first person that can prove that I have broken any of these promises.”

These ideas have been around for many years, and they would seem to give voters more of what they say they want from politicians: less corruption and more kept promises.  Yet virtually no political candidates ever take these positions.  I have to conclude that these positions would somehow interfere with voters getting other things they want from candidates.  But what things?  Some possibilities:

  • We elect politicians to raise our status by affiliation.  Anyone can follow a jury, so that isn’t impressive, and our affiliation is weaker if we suggest we don’t trust them.
  • We prefer the hypocrisy of democracy where they tell us nice sounding things, making it look like we support them, but then actually do what we really want done.
  • Voters would reject a candidate whose campaign focused on such meta issues, and prefer to support a candidate who would better help them signal their particular positions on non-meta issues.
  • We elect elites we think are much better than us, and we don’t trust our own judgement relative to theirs.
  • By suggesting that voters might not trust you, you suggest you are especially untrustworthy.
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