The Conscription Prescription

A most provocative and timely talk by Tom Fitzgerald,
author of Poor Richard’s Lament


Our system of justice is based on the theory that we have a fundamental right to be judged by a panel of our peers instead of by the king’s (or state’s) representatives. To field a panel of our peers, we use random selection (conscription). What if our system of governance were similarly based? What if, at all levels, our personal and collective interests were represented not by self-interested, eminently-corruptible politicians, always seeking personal advantage, but by average citizens selected by lot? What if there were no career politicians – no negative campaigns – no endless electioneering – no gerrymandering – no entrenched partisanship – no shameless dissembling – no political robo-calls – no PACs – no pundits – no populist proselytizers? What if our entire culture were built around the requirement that every citizen, however humble in his or her abilities or achievements, be subject to conscription into public service, just as every (male) citizen, once upon a time, was held liable to conscription into a common defense? Indeed, isn’t this what a democracy truly is? This talk presents the case for replacing our beleaguered electoral system with one based on conscription.