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11/13/2004 Archived Entry: "Polarization of Congress"

Gordon P. on the current polarization of Congress...

Gordon writes, A "Slate" article summarizes Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal's work on political polarization in Congress. (For the peer-reviewed published papers by Poole and Rosenthal, click here, particularly "Changing Mind? Not in Congress," and "The hunt for party discipline in Congress."

One thing the "Slate" article fails to bring out is that, while Congress has become steadily more factionalized and extremist (particularly during the latter half of the 20th Century), the general U.S. public is a beautiful bell-curve centered on "Moderate." Hence, the members of Congress are a HIGHLY non-representative sample --- they "represent" the opinions of the 2nd -- 4th standard deviation on the ultra-far-Left and the Ultra-far-Right, =NOT= the general public... :-(

It is things like the above that make me think that maybe the Athenian Greeks actually had the "right" idea: If one wants a "representative" government, one should =NOT= "elect" politicians --- one should DRAFT representatives from the eligible members of the public using a lottery, much like Jury Duty, since it guarantees a more representative sample of the "body politic"... (The Athenians also neatly solved the problem of "incumbents:" One could only be drafted _once_ during one's entire lifetime...)

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