Thanks for waiting, everyone!
It’s not possible to live in the US these days without being inundated with talk of reform. We just passed healthcare reform, we’re currently up in arms about nuclear defense reform, immigration reform, banking reform. I’m a little sick of the term at this point, but I also understand that the most effective solutions are themselves types of reform, and thus perpetuating the problem.
We need a way to mold the reform process, and I think the best step forward is to take a step back. I suggest we adapt our legal system to incorporate that most effective of decision-making policies: Thunderdome.
First effect: efficiency. From months and months of arguing, debating, drafting, redrafting, and votes that these days usually end in filibustering (the political term for “I’m going to bitch and whine until everyone else gives up because they’re not doing exactly what I want”), laws are written, champions are chosen, and a few minutes later we have a winner. The merits of the issue so rarely enter into the debate itself in the current climate, so completely abandoning them in favor of trial by combat only makes the grievance official. Also, by making the decision-making process centered on the fight itself, there will be less interest in compromise, ensuring that the bills do not suffer from being weakened in their potential to change the system by being watered down in committee to make an attempt at compromise.
While political activism in general is building, actual popular attention to Washington proceedings remains low. The only people that pay scrutinous attention to the actual proceedings are shows like The Daily Show, and then only so that they can find new reasons to run the same people over coals. The entire democratic system is built on the principle that citizens must not only be aware but be active in the political process. My Thunderdome proposal does not limit the United States to one giant dome, but a series located throughout the country. Not only will major federal laws be decided this way, this policy would go right down to concluding how fiscally responsible a neighbor is for his dog’s digging into another neighbor’s property line.
Which brings me to my next point: abuse of the system. One of the great travesties present in our current legal system is that so many people are willing to use it not to seek justice, but to earn livelihoods from the absolute minimum amount of work. There are people who make their livings through lawsuits – mostly lawyers, but also their less empathetic clients – and even worse are people who are willing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars less for the potential payout but more so that their face can get on television. The day said people have to defend their cases with their fists, such abuses will end, either via forfeit or with hilariously painful displays. My system will allow a party to arbitrate their spot in Thunderdome to another party, but with restrictions: one cannot have a second more than a decade older or younger, must be able to prove relationship for at least a year, must be within a similar earning range. This should allow anyone sick, injured, or otherwise impaired to take part in the system and yet avoid the immediate creation of a professional legal-fighting institution.
While costs for the construction of facilities to enforce this new infrastructure may be intimidating, it is important to take into account the long-term savings and additional revenue streams to be enjoyed through this level of justice. Professional wrestling has done it best, and I think theirs is a model we should learn from. Allow free admission and viewing of the municipal-level arguments, things like small claims court and misdemeanors. Main events like capital or federal offenses, with more at stake and thus demanding a higher-caliber champion, will draw bigger audiences. Legal battles like, and I’m just being hypothetical, a trade dispute between California governor Arnold Swarzeneggar and former governor Jesse Ventura, would need to be pay-per-view simply to control the overwhelming demand. Revenues from such events could fund things education, energy concerns, public transit, whichever department could prove their need best in the ‘dome.
Modern day problems are coming at the public faster than ever, and immediate action has to be taken. The lines are being drawn in the sand as to which direction this country should head. Given the benefits I’ve outlined above, I believe the only people being hurt by my proposal are those who lack the courage to truly put themselves on the line for what they believe.
Thunderdome may not be the most enlightened method for seeing us through this conflict, but I continue to believe it is the most effective one.
I really needed to get that off my chest. Thank you.