July 3, 2009
A California Constitutional Convention
With the state’s fiscal woes mounting and Sacramento seemingly frozen in place, a group of California leaders has proposed a constitutional convention as a way to fix the Golden State’s deeply entrenched structural problems.
But how do you organize the convention? I really like the sound of this scheme:
RANDOM SELECTION: This method might sound the strangest but actually may hold the most promise. It has been used in Canada and elsewhere. A scientific sampling of Californians would be randomly selected from the statewide voter list, like a jury pool.
The Bay Area Council, a group of business leaders, has proposed randomly selecting 400 Californians to create a body of average citizens who could bring their common sense and pragmatism to the problems at hand. Those delegates would be paid to participate for eight months, starting with an intensive two-month education process in which they would hear from many experts about the problems and potential solutions for California.
It’s like deliberative polling with teeth!
It’s not without problems, of course — but to me they seem like better problems than the ones you get with appointed or elected bodies. And keep in mind, a randomly-selected group would be generating policy options which would then be voted on by everyone else in California, so it’s not like we would, er, skip democracy entirely.