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Making A Case for [Democracy By Sortition]

The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
Aristotle.jpg

Democracy arose from the idea that those who are equal in any respect are equal absolutely. All are alike free, therefore they claim that all are free absolutely... The next is when the democrats, on the grounds that they are all equal, claim equal participation in everything.

It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot; and as oligarchic when they are filled by election.


The Athenian magistrate system had many problems during it's long life, and one of them was the issue of rule via oligarchy: in a democratic system driven by voter elections (as championed by Socrates), magistrates could effectively buy their seats. In turn, the Greek administration created by popular vote came represent only the interests of the wealthy.

This problem was solved by discarding elections in favor of sortition - simply drawing from the public at random whom would hold what seat for a given term.

I think this is a system that ought to be seriously considered for use today (of course it will never be, but whatever, I can pretend that this is totes up for debate somehow & somewhere).


...So you just pick people at random, and boom, there's your government?

In essence, yes. There's an annual lottery (or bi-annual, or however many times over 'X' time period you want to rotate people out), and everyone that meets eligibility criteria (so, presumably, no children) are included in said lottery. If your name / SSN / whatever is drawn, you fill a seat. It's a paid position, just like today, and you otherwise do exactly what government officials do (or are supposed to do) right now.


What if I don't want to be in this government lottery?

There are two lines of thought here: one is that the system would offer an opt-out mechanism, the other is that the system would only operate for people who opt-in to it. Each has it's own merits & drawbacks (the opt-out system might 'catch' people that have no desire to be in office but never got around to filing whatever form was necessary to opt-out; the opt-in system will likely draw a specific crowd to it, and we might miss out on valuable insight from demographics that don't often opt-in due to a number of factors. It's also more vulnerable to corruption / abuse).


How is this better than elections?

1) Sortition creates a government that is much more representative of the general population that elections do in practice. Yes, in theory anyone can run in an election: in practice, few people do, voters often choose to vote strategically and elections are very, very often won by the person who spend the most money on their campaign. As a result, almost all governments in first world countries are hugely over-represented by not only the wealthy, but the super wealthy.


us-congress-millionaires.jpg


In the U.S. in particular, the government demographic is almost entirely composed of former lawyers and/or financial experts, almost half of which are millionaires.

One of the primary benefits of Sortition is evening-out this problem.


2) No parties. No platforms. No 'brand loyalty'. No political dynasties.

There is no need for political rallying organizations or caucuses. In practice, people would almost certainly draw some arbitrary lines after being elected and file themselves into camps; but these camps wouldn't be entrenched, and nobody would have to join one to have a realistic chance of getting a seat. People would not be tied to specific political families & their networks anymore.


3) No political heads of state.

There is no need for a President or Prime Minister. Again, leaders are very likely to organically arise anyway, but there is no systemic totem pole. No one person to be scapegoated, venerated, targeted for violence, etc. The age of malicious election attack ads would be over.


4) Reduced partisanship.

Again, partisan politics are going to happen anyway, but entrenched fanaticism to one political party would very likely go extinct. People would actually have to look at floor vote results and read individual opinions in order to get involved rather than just read about which party label has been applied to which policies. Insanity!


5) No more 'banking' political capital for a follow-up term or to preserve the integrity of a party label

There are no second terms to be won or party bodies to maintain the legacy of: you do your stint and walk away when the next lottery comes around. Lobbyists have no reason to try and hook you because your political life is too short-lived to be of benefit to them. Ideally, this may also mean that the public stops viewing government officials through a special lens where they are seen as something beyond mere mortal men / women.


6) No 'old guard' preserving political traditions at the expense of necessary changes

There is no 'old guard' who've been sitting around for decades, either because their constituents feel that they are the only worthwhile candidate or because they're well-connected and are constantly re-appointed. Each cycle represents an entirely new government and new opportunity for the adoption of new ideas.


Those are just my favorites. If anyone else here is a fan of this notion, be sure to add your own.


Sortition, D&D: Good enough for Athens, good enough for you?

With Love and Courage
poshnialloJulius
«13

Posts

  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    So every public office or only the ones we have now?

    Judges?
    Cabinet positions?
    Police?
    Inspectors?

    What happens if someone crazy gets picked?

    Do we keep the congress and they are just random or lose them all together?

  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    I could see this working as a specific third house in Congress, in addition to the other two. You can't replace the entire government with it though, the population on average isn't educated enough to deal with all those issues and without the worry about re-election there's nothing to stop crazy people from going full-tilt.

    KamarLinespider5Salvation122Corehealer
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    So every public office or only the ones we have now?

    There are different opinions on how much should be done via lottery vs how much should be done via appointment.

    For example: the Athenian magistrates (effectively analogous to the house & senate in America) were all done via lot, but military & scientific administrators were all via appointment. Balancing that apparatus is part of the challenge.
    What happens if someone crazy gets picked?

    What, like if Rick Santorum was picked? Oh wait, he was elected anyway. :P

    If you mean, "Person with a mental illness," we could do one of two things:

    1) Accept that most mental illnesses are treatable, that people with mental illness are part of the population, and consider it to be a system working as intended when mentally ill people are given seats.

    2) Restrict people with mental illnesses from participating in the lottery.

    With Love and Courage
    poshniallo
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    I kinda think I would not want most people who would be willing to give up their life for a year to become famous and powerful aren't really the sort of people i want running the government.

    I mean, like, wouldn't it sort of just become "Who Wants to Run America?"

    This machine kills threads.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    I could see this working as a specific third house in Congress, in addition to the other two. You can't replace the entire government with it though, the population on average isn't educated enough to deal with all those issues and without the worry about re-election there's nothing to stop crazy people from going full-tilt.

    If the population on average isn't educated enough to be part of a lot system, then they absolutely aren't educated enough on average to have a successful vote-based election system.

    With Love and Courage
    Typhoid MannyHexmage-PASalvation122
  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    How would this deal with minority representation?

    Would current eligibility requirements for various offices be used?

    Do you think this would lead to government being more effective or less?

    I disagree that there is no need for a head of state.

    How would you guard against a huge majority of far-right or far-left extremists being given power at random and then changing the system so much that they are entrenched in their positions? The,current system has a certain amount of safeguards against this built in due to gerrymandering on both sides.

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited December 2013
    knitdan wrote: »
    How would this deal with minority representation?

    They would tend to be represented in the same amount as their proportion in the populous. Right? Which would be a massive improvement over the current situation.

    redx on
    This machine kills threads.
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    I guess there is a worse form of democracy.

    Sortition is a solution looking for "problems" to solve. Furthermore, most of those "problems" the OP lists really aren't.

    1) This is an issue of definition - more specifically, the definition of "representation". The OP's argument is defining representation in terms of a small selection from a larger group being statistically representative of the larger group. But when we talk of representation in the legal and political sense, we're talking of an individual tasked with representing the interests of a group - in the political context, the group being the electoral district. Second, the fact that the majority of our elected officials being lawyers is less a function of wealth and more a function of expertise - if you're looking for someone to represent you in a body tasked to create laws, you're going to want to lean towards people trained in the law - lawyers.

    2) As I've said in other threads, organization is THE force multiplier. Which is why no matter what you do, political parties are going to form, just out of necessity. But in a sortition system, they're going to form in a manner where the populace has no say over them, in comparison to the parties we have now.

    3) Every country needs a head of state in order to represent the country on the international stage, as well as a chief executive/head of government to carry out the execution of laws. You can't get around those positions in a modern state.

    4) Partisanship is not intrinsically bad, comity is not intrinsically good.

    5) Counterpoint: California. Incredibly strict term limits there has moved the locus of legislative institutional memory to lobbyists, which has significantly increased their power and influence.

    6) Counterpoint: The Tea Party. They've primaried out the "old guard" and brought in "new ideas", just as the OP advocates for.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
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  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    Not necessarily though. You could end up with massive over representation or under representation.

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    I could see this working as a specific third house in Congress, in addition to the other two. You can't replace the entire government with it though, the population on average isn't educated enough to deal with all those issues and without the worry about re-election there's nothing to stop crazy people from going full-tilt.

    If the population on average isn't educated enough to be part of a lot system, then they absolutely aren't educated enough on average to have a successful vote-based election system.

    There is a huge difference between being able to pick a person to represent your views, and knowing how to function as a member of government.

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
    Jurg
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    How would you guard against a huge majority of far-right or far-left extremists being given power at random and then changing the system so much that they are entrenched in their positions? The,current system has a certain amount of safeguards against this built in due to gerrymandering on both sides.

    ...So the problem is that Sortition does not have the same avenues for cheating / corruption that elections have, and this cheating is actually beneficial because it somehow excludes extremists (nevermind the fact that extremists are very often voted in)?

    Do you have an example from Greece where extremists were all lotted into positions of power and then seized control of the government?

    If you don't, call me a skeptic of this fantasy.


    With Love and Courage
  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Sounds like it'd very similar to a pure technocracy, with most of the important decisions being made by whichever people were put forward by their specialty's board. You'd pretty much be able to dispense with the whole lottery and just run things off referendums - why bother keeping a few people in a job when they're really just acting as a sample of the populace anyway?

    Why not just let the relevant government bodies come up with the questions you want to ask, then poll a suitable number of people to get a representative answer?

    Nothing stopping you from weighting certain votes either, which would certainly come up given the experts being asked to produce the questions - few extra votes for having a relevant background, completion of certain courses or being 'atypically typical' (i.e. you overwhelming vote with the majority).

    Demarchy is a similar term to the one your using I think

    Tastyfish on
  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    How do you handle pork?

    If I get picked I would most likely try to push money back to improve my, relatively small, community in exchange for my vote. With no one to be accountable to how do you stop that?

  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    There is a huge difference between being able to pick a person to represent your views, and knowing how to function as a member of government.

    Alright - what skill set or expertise, in your opinion, does Rob Ford have that the average constituent does not? What about Stephen Harper? What about Jean Chrétien? Ralph Klein? Rick Perry? Rick Santorum?

    If what we want are knowledgeable experts rather than opinionated ideologues with good marketers, I'd say we've rather missed the mark with elections.

    With Love and Courage
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    How would you guard against a huge majority of far-right or far-left extremists being given power at random and then changing the system so much that they are entrenched in their positions? The,current system has a certain amount of safeguards against this built in due to gerrymandering on both sides.

    ...So the problem is that Sortition does not have the same avenues for cheating / corruption that elections have, and this cheating is actually beneficial because it somehow excludes extremists (nevermind the fact that extremists are very often voted in)?

    Do you have an example from Greece where extremists were all lotted into positions of power and then seized control of the government?

    If you don't, call me a skeptic of this fantasy.


    You do realize that Athenian "democracy" was, in fact, highly oligarchic due to the restrictive nature of the Athenian polity?

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
    Linespider5
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    rockrnger wrote: »
    How do you handle pork?

    If I get picked I would most likely try to push money back to improve my, relatively small, community in exchange for my vote. With no one to be accountable to how do you stop that?

    You don't; you recognize that 'pork' is a weasel word and that people entering into discussions / negotiations / compromises to get the money where they want it is the system working as it's intended to work.

    With Love and Courage
    Edith Upwards
  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    I think there's a point that the extremes in the current system would become the norm in the new one. The current system generally pushes for people who have had relevant experience in a similar setting - moving up through local government to higher offices. Even people like Michelle Bachman have gone this route for the most part - so whilst they might be crazy, they are crazy that can supposedly make things work. Different thing from the voter who votes for Bachman first and foremost for her crazy views.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Tastyfish wrote: »
    Sounds like it'd very similar to a pure technocracy, with most of the important decisions being made by whichever people were put forward by their specialty's board. You'd pretty much be able to dispense with the whole lottery and just run things off referendums - why bother keeping a few people in a job when they're really just acting as a sample of the populace anyway?

    Ideally those chosen could educate themselves on issues for a far greater amount of time than I can while holding down a job.

    That's about it.

    Otherwise this does indeed sound like a way to make things look democratic while giving the bureaucracy the actual control over government.

    Jeep-EepshrykeLanlaorn
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    How would you guard against a huge majority of far-right or far-left extremists being given power at random and then changing the system so much that they are entrenched in their positions? The,current system has a certain amount of safeguards against this built in due to gerrymandering on both sides.

    ...So the problem is that Sortition does not have the same avenues for cheating / corruption that elections have, and this cheating is actually beneficial because it somehow excludes extremists (nevermind the fact that extremists are very often voted in)?

    Do you have an example from Greece where extremists were all lotted into positions of power and then seized control of the government?

    If you don't, call me a skeptic of this fantasy.


    You do realize that Athenian "democracy" was, in fact, highly oligarchic due to the restrictive nature of the Athenian polity?

    Source & citation?

    With Love and Courage
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    knitdan wrote: »
    Not necessarily though. You could end up with massive over representation or under representation.

    Presumably, any sortition system would need a very large pool of legislators in order to reduce the random variance in representation. But if the body is large enough to guarantee statistically even representation, it may be too large to effectively negotiate and craft laws without further nested offices and privileges--which kind of defeats the point. Anyway, I'd be curious to hear from someone who knows a little bit of stats how large the numbers we're talking about would have to be.

    The problem of inexpertise is serious, but it seems it could also be solved by very long terms and a very large house with a gradual turnover.

    However, all that being said, the main thought lying behind sortition--that it guarantees people from 'all walks of life' get to be in government, and hence that people from all walks of life will be represented by that government--seems to me to be superficially appealing but ultimately false. Even if someone is picked from poverty, that doesn't mean they will represent the interests of the impoverished. Class origin is not the same as class interest. For a historical example: Roman tribunes were by law required to be selected from the plebian class, but often de facto represented the interests of wealthy Senatorial patrons. For a contemporary example: genuinely self-made men in American finance and industry do occasionally arise from very modest backgrounds, but nonetheless as a class tend to go on to use their wealth and influence to champion profoundly anti-poor policies. So, despite the fact that sortition sounds kind of nice, I just don't see much reason to think it would actually do what it's supposed to, i.e. increase the government's responsiveness to the otherwise powerless. At least in the current system they get to vote.

    MrMister on
    shryke
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Tastyfish wrote: »
    I think there's a point that the extremes in the current system would become the norm in the new one. The current system generally pushes for people who have had relevant experience in a similar setting - moving up through local government to higher offices. Even people like Michelle Bachman have gone this route for the most part - so whilst they might be crazy, they are crazy that can supposedly make things work. Different thing from the voter who votes for Bachman first and foremost for her crazy views.

    Once again, the Tea Party is the perfect example here - many of the TP reps in the House have no prior experience in government.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
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  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    There is a huge difference between being able to pick a person to represent your views, and knowing how to function as a member of government.

    Alright - what skill set or expertise, in your opinion, does Rob Ford have that the average constituent does not? What about Stephen Harper? What about Jean Chrétien? Ralph Klein? Rick Perry? Rick Santorum?

    If what we want are knowledgeable experts rather than opinionated ideologues with good marketers, I'd say we've rather missed the mark with elections.

    Of course you pick only the most extreme examples, but most of these are at least college graduates and a fair number have law degrees, so they presumably have some familiarity with at least the idea of critical thinking. Just because they don't share your values doesn't make them idiots.

    Whereas in a random drawing you'd be much more likely to get a bunch of high school graduates who think Africa is a country and Europe is a part of England.


    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    I guess there is a worse form of democracy.

    Sortition is a solution looking for "problems" to solve. Furthermore, most of those "problems" the OP lists really aren't.

    1) This is an issue of definition - more specifically, the definition of "representation". The OP's argument is defining representation in terms of a small selection from a larger group being statistically representative of the larger group. But when we talk of representation in the legal and political sense, we're talking of an individual tasked with representing the interests of a group - in the political context, the group being the electoral district. Second, the fact that the majority of our elected officials being lawyers is less a function of wealth and more a function of expertise - if you're looking for someone to represent you in a body tasked to create laws, you're going to want to lean towards people trained in the law - lawyers.

    I completely disagree. First, as I said before, people are not often elected because of their expertise - they're elected based on the amount of advertising they were able to do. That has everything to with wealth rather than thoughtful voting.

    Second, I think it's more than reasonable to conflate those two meanings when talking about a political body with many seats rather than a single individual: a body of many lawyers and millionaires is pretty unlikely to know how to best serve the interests of people making less than 12k a year, or even have the inclination to do so.
    2) As I've said in other threads, organization is THE force multiplier. Which is why no matter what you do, political parties are going to form, just out of necessity. But in a sortition system, they're going to form in a manner where the populace has no say over them, in comparison to the parties we have now.

    Ad hoc bodies would no doubt form; that's quite different from having two or so overwhelming bodies with all of the political capital. The ad hoc bodies probably wouldn't last beyond a single election cycle.
    3) Every country needs a head of state in order to represent the country on the international stage, as well as a chief executive/head of government to carry out the execution of laws. You can't get around those positions in a modern state.

    Can you explain why every country needs a single person to personify their county on the international stage?
    4) Partisanship is not intrinsically bad, comity is not intrinsically good.

    Can you provide an example to give me an example of Partisanship being a good thing in and of itself?
    5) Counterpoint: California. Incredibly strict term limits there has moved the locus of legislative institutional memory to lobbyists, which has significantly increased their power and influence.

    So, does California currently have a lot-based or election-based democracy?
    6) Counterpoint: The Tea Party. They've primaried out the "old guard" and brought in "new ideas", just as the OP advocates for.

    I don't agree; in my opinion, the Tea Party is an excellent example of extreme partisanship brought about by fanatical loyalty to one political name brand.

    With Love and Courage
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Not necessarily though. You could end up with massive over representation or under representation.

    Presumably, any sortition system would need a very large pool of legislators in order to reduce the random variance in representation. But if the body is large enough to guarantee statistically even representation, it may be too large to effectively negotiate and craft laws without further nested offices and privileges--which kind of defeats the point. Anyway, I'd be curious to hear from someone who knows a little bit of stats how large the numbers we're talking about would have to be.

    The problem of inexpertise is serious, but it seems it could also be solved by very long terms and a very large house with a gradual turnover.

    However, all that being said, the main thought lying behind sortition--that it guarantees people from 'all walks of life' get to be in government, and hence that people from all walks of life will be represented by that government--seems to me to be superficially appealing but ultimately false. Even if someone is picked from poverty, that doesn't mean they will represent the interests of the impoverished. Class origin is not the same as class interest. For a historical example: Roman tribunes were by law required to be selected from the plebian class, but often de facto represented the interests of wealthy Senatorial patrons. For a contemporary example: genuinely self-made men in American finance and industry do occasionally arise from very modest backgrounds, but nonetheless as a class tend to go on to use their wealth and influence to champion profoundly anti-poor policies. So, despite the fact that sortition sounds kind of nice, I just don't see much reason to think it would actually do what it's supposed to, i.e. increase the government's responsiveness to the otherwise powerless. At least in the current system they get to vote.

    So, the benefit of the current system is that, hey, at least when you peck the button every once in a while a pellet comes out?

    With Love and Courage
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    knitdan wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    There is a huge difference between being able to pick a person to represent your views, and knowing how to function as a member of government.

    Alright - what skill set or expertise, in your opinion, does Rob Ford have that the average constituent does not? What about Stephen Harper? What about Jean Chrétien? Ralph Klein? Rick Perry? Rick Santorum?

    If what we want are knowledgeable experts rather than opinionated ideologues with good marketers, I'd say we've rather missed the mark with elections.

    Of course you pick only the most extreme examples, but most of these are at least college graduates and a fair number have law degrees, so they presumably have some familiarity with at least the idea of critical thinking. Just because they don't share your values doesn't make them idiots.

    Whereas in a random drawing you'd be much more likely to get a bunch of high school graduates who think Africa is a country and Europe is a part of England.


    So, education is your sole consideration for virtue, then? If a system selects mostly educated people, who cares about the rest of the results?

    With Love and Courage
  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    There is a huge difference between being able to pick a person to represent your views, and knowing how to function as a member of government.

    Alright - what skill set or expertise, in your opinion, does Rob Ford have that the average constituent does not? What about Stephen Harper? What about Jean Chrétien? Ralph Klein? Rick Perry? Rick Santorum?

    If what we want are knowledgeable experts rather than opinionated ideologues with good marketers, I'd say we've rather missed the mark with elections.

    Of course you pick only the most extreme examples, but most of these are at least college graduates and a fair number have law degrees, so they presumably have some familiarity with at least the idea of critical thinking. Just because they don't share your values doesn't make them idiots.

    Whereas in a random drawing you'd be much more likely to get a bunch of high school graduates who think Africa is a country and Europe is a part of England.


    So, education is your sole consideration for virtue, then? If a system selects mostly educated people, who cares about the rest of the results?

    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
    Jurg
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    knitdan wrote: »
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    I'm not sure how you justify insisting that a lottery where all people are given consideration is somehow more elitist in nature than a system where the wealthiest demographic buy ads and then win elections based on the amount of advertising they did.

    Yes, I do think it would be better to have a lottery than to have the ultra wealthy make everyone's decisions.
    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    I mean, this is the very definition of elitism: you're picking a demographic to exclude from the process (the illiterate). You can say, "But this is a GOOD kind of elitism / disenfranchisement!" if you want, but you can't say that an election system is less elitist than a lottery.

    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    Here's more of how I'm approaching this.

    I wrote this on November 26 of this year.
    Huh, so the weirdest local election has finally been decided.

    I live in a rural area, and we have these things called "fire districts." They're partially funded through taxes, but all the firefighters are volunteers. Each district has a commissioner, who is in charge. This is an elected position.

    Well, the previous commissioner decided not to run again, but didn't tell anyone until after the filing date to get on the ballot had passed. Which meant the one guy who had filed, who had no experience and was known to most locals as a bit of a fuckup, was basically running unopposed.

    So this other dude who actually was qualified for the position decided he was going to run a write-in campaign.

    With signs and everything.

    Which he managed to win, 251-239.

    Under your system, we'd be far more likely to get some random moron who knows nothing about running a local fire district.

    Under our system, the right guy won..

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    I'm not sure how you justify insisting that a lottery where all people are given consideration is somehow more elitist in nature than a system where the wealthiest demographic buy ads and then win elections based on the amount of advertising they did.

    Yes, I do think it would be better to have a lottery than to have the ultra wealthy make everyone's decisions.
    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    I mean, this is the very definition of elitism: you're picking a demographic to exclude from the process (the illiterate). You can say, "But this is a GOOD kind of elitism / disenfranchisement!" if you want, but you can't say that an election system is less elitist than a lottery.

    Again, the Athenian polity, the group on which their sortition was selected from, was highly oligarchic by its restrictive nature. The polity in ancient Athens excluded the lower classes, women, slaves, etc.

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  • knitdanknitdan Oh no Too much hunnyRegistered User regular
    Oh my God.

    I was not arguing that a lottery is elitist.

    I was pointing out, as AngelHedgie does far better than me, that the Athenian system was not some magical fairytale wonderland of democracy. It was pretty undemocratic by modern standards.

    My personal criteria for who I want in elected office may very well be elitist, but nobody else is required to follow my criteria.. If people want to, they can elect the village idiot. Sometimes they do. But that is not a justification for throwing out a mostly functioning system.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Not necessarily though. You could end up with massive over representation or under representation.

    Presumably, any sortition system would need a very large pool of legislators in order to reduce the random variance in representation. But if the body is large enough to guarantee statistically even representation, it may be too large to effectively negotiate and craft laws without further nested offices and privileges--which kind of defeats the point. Anyway, I'd be curious to hear from someone who knows a little bit of stats how large the numbers we're talking about would have to be.

    The problem of inexpertise is serious, but it seems it could also be solved by very long terms and a very large house with a gradual turnover.

    However, all that being said, the main thought lying behind sortition--that it guarantees people from 'all walks of life' get to be in government, and hence that people from all walks of life will be represented by that government--seems to me to be superficially appealing but ultimately false. Even if someone is picked from poverty, that doesn't mean they will represent the interests of the impoverished. Class origin is not the same as class interest. For a historical example: Roman tribunes were by law required to be selected from the plebian class, but often de facto represented the interests of wealthy Senatorial patrons. For a contemporary example: genuinely self-made men in American finance and industry do occasionally arise from very modest backgrounds, but nonetheless as a class tend to go on to use their wealth and influence to champion profoundly anti-poor policies. So, despite the fact that sortition sounds kind of nice, I just don't see much reason to think it would actually do what it's supposed to, i.e. increase the government's responsiveness to the otherwise powerless. At least in the current system they get to vote.

    Those aren't fair comparisons though. Formerly poor people who have become 'self-made men' aren't poor any more. They've changed classes, albeit not completely. And tend, for obvious reasons, to reject sociological and statistical narratives for their success, believing that they 'deserve' it.

    It's debatable whether poor people are more vulnerable to bribery and corruption than rich people. Obviously, poor people need money. But rich people don't, and still seem eminently available to bribery in modern politics.

    I've been interested in this kind of governmental system for a long time, and I think it would be a good replacement for the House of Lords in the UK.

    Also, it doesn't merely have the goal of representing the poor. It is trying to have all kinds of people involved directly in governing. Teachers in the government will improve our education system. Doctors and nurses will improve the medical system. At the moment we have professional politicians, coming largely from wealthy backgrounds and the legal profession. That, for me, is three big problems that need addressing.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    I'm not sure how you justify insisting that a lottery where all people are given consideration is somehow more elitist in nature than a system where the wealthiest demographic buy ads and then win elections based on the amount of advertising they did.

    Yes, I do think it would be better to have a lottery than to have the ultra wealthy make everyone's decisions.
    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    I mean, this is the very definition of elitism: you're picking a demographic to exclude from the process (the illiterate). You can say, "But this is a GOOD kind of elitism / disenfranchisement!" if you want, but you can't say that an election system is less elitist than a lottery.

    Again, the Athenian polity, the group on which their sortition was selected from, was highly oligarchic by its restrictive nature. The polity in ancient Athens excluded the lower classes, women, slaves, etc.

    Please argue the OP on the points it raises rather than guilt by association.

    Excluding women, slaves and the 'lower classes' is not being advocated.

    This has been a really civil debate so far, especially since this is such a radical concept. I personally would love it to continue that way. I've toyed with a similar OP many times, but imagined it would just get savaged by 'small c' conservatives.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    I'm not sure how you justify insisting that a lottery where all people are given consideration is somehow more elitist in nature than a system where the wealthiest demographic buy ads and then win elections based on the amount of advertising they did.

    Yes, I do think it would be better to have a lottery than to have the ultra wealthy make everyone's decisions.
    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    I mean, this is the very definition of elitism: you're picking a demographic to exclude from the process (the illiterate). You can say, "But this is a GOOD kind of elitism / disenfranchisement!" if you want, but you can't say that an election system is less elitist than a lottery.

    Again, the Athenian polity, the group on which their sortition was selected from, was highly oligarchic by its restrictive nature. The polity in ancient Athens excluded the lower classes, women, slaves, etc.

    And again, what is your source & citation for this? I'm aware of the Athenian thirst for slavery, but your assertion that the polity was 'highly oligarchic' after the lottery began doesn't jive with any of what I've read.

    With Love and Courage
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    knitdan wrote: »
    Oh my God.

    I was not arguing that a lottery is elitist.

    I was pointing out, as AngelHedgie does far better than me, that the Athenian system was not some magical fairytale wonderland of democracy. It was pretty undemocratic by modern standards.

    My personal criteria for who I want in elected office may very well be elitist, but nobody else is required to follow my criteria.. If people want to, they can elect the village idiot. Sometimes they do. But that is not a justification for throwing out a mostly functioning system.

    You said:
    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    Which is what I responding to.


    I don't agree that the system is 'mostly functional', at least not in a way that serves the public good.

    With Love and Courage
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    Also, it doesn't merely have the goal of representing the poor. It is trying to have all kinds of people involved directly in governing. Teachers in the government will improve our education system. Doctors and nurses will improve the medical system. At the moment we have professional politicians, coming largely from wealthy backgrounds and the legal profession. That, for me, is three big problems that need addressing.

    Two of the biggest, most vociferous, and most ideological opponents of the ACA (Broun, Paul) are licensed medical doctors. The problem with the argument that we need more fields represented in Congress is that, at the end of the day, the job of Congress is to write laws, which is ultimately a task best done by people who understand how the law works.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    The Ender wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    I'm not sure how you justify insisting that a lottery where all people are given consideration is somehow more elitist in nature than a system where the wealthiest demographic buy ads and then win elections based on the amount of advertising they did.

    Yes, I do think it would be better to have a lottery than to have the ultra wealthy make everyone's decisions.
    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    I mean, this is the very definition of elitism: you're picking a demographic to exclude from the process (the illiterate). You can say, "But this is a GOOD kind of elitism / disenfranchisement!" if you want, but you can't say that an election system is less elitist than a lottery.

    Again, the Athenian polity, the group on which their sortition was selected from, was highly oligarchic by its restrictive nature. The polity in ancient Athens excluded the lower classes, women, slaves, etc.

    And again, what is your source & citation for this? I'm aware of the Athenian thirst for slavery, but your assertion that the polity was 'highly oligarchic' after the lottery began doesn't jive with any of what I've read.

    It comes from the definition of an ancient Athenian citizen:
    Only men that were over the age of 18 and had completed their military training as ephebes had the right to vote in Athens. The percentage of the population that actually participated in the government was roughly 20% of the total number of people but this varied from the fifth to the fourth century BC.[4] This excluded from voting a majority of the population, namely slaves, freed slaves, children, women and metics.[6][clarification needed] The women had limited rights and privileges and were barely considered citizens. They had restricted movement in public and were very segregated from the men.

    Also excluded from voting were citizens whose rights were under suspension (typically for failure to pay a debt to the city: see atimia); for some Athenians this amounted to permanent (and in fact inheritable) disqualification. Still, in contrast with oligarchical societies, there were no real property qualification for voting. (The property classes of Solon's constitution remained on the books, but they fell into disuse.) Given the exclusionary and ancestral conception of citizenship held by Greek city-states, a relatively large portion of the population took part in the government of Athens and of other radical democracies like it.[clarification needed]

    At Athens some citizens were far more active than others, but the vast numbers required just for the system to work testify to a breadth of participation among those eligible that greatly surpassed any present day democracy[citation needed]. Athenian citizens had to be descended from citizens—after the reforms of Pericles and Cimon in 450 BC on both sides of the family, excluding the children of Athenian men and foreign women.[clarification needed] Although the legislation was not retrospective, five years later the Athenians removed 5000 from the citizen registers when a free gift of grain arrived for all citizens from an Egyptian king.[citation needed]

    Citizenship could be granted by the assembly and was sometimes given to large groups (Plateans in 427 BC, Samians in 405 BC) but, by the 4th century, only to individuals and by a special vote with a quorum of 6000. This was generally done as a reward for some service to the state. In the course of a century, the numbers involved were in the hundreds rather than thousands.

    In short, if you were a slave, a freedman, a woman, a permanent foreign resident (which, thanks to the lack of lex solis, was an inheritable condition), had your rights suspended (which is a situation that you can inherit), or were incapable or unwilling to train as a soldier, you were not a part of the polity.

    AngelHedgie on
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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    poshniallo wrote: »
    The Ender wrote: »
    knitdan wrote: »
    Where are you from that you want to replace voting with a lottery and think that would result in a better situation?

    Are you a time traveler from Ancient Greece who also happened to be one of the elite few who was actually allowed to hold power?

    I'm not sure how you justify insisting that a lottery where all people are given consideration is somehow more elitist in nature than a system where the wealthiest demographic buy ads and then win elections based on the amount of advertising they did.

    Yes, I do think it would be better to have a lottery than to have the ultra wealthy make everyone's decisions.
    No, but is one of a number of factors I would want to consider when forming a government. I want to have a choice and vote, rather than just draw straws and hope the person who is picked can actually read and write.

    I mean, this is the very definition of elitism: you're picking a demographic to exclude from the process (the illiterate). You can say, "But this is a GOOD kind of elitism / disenfranchisement!" if you want, but you can't say that an election system is less elitist than a lottery.

    Again, the Athenian polity, the group on which their sortition was selected from, was highly oligarchic by its restrictive nature. The polity in ancient Athens excluded the lower classes, women, slaves, etc.

    Please argue the OP on the points it raises rather than guilt by association.

    Excluding women, slaves and the 'lower classes' is not being advocated.

    This has been a really civil debate so far, especially since this is such a radical concept. I personally would love it to continue that way. I've toyed with a similar OP many times, but imagined it would just get savaged by 'small c' conservatives.

    I am arguing the OP on the points. The OP asserts that this system of democracy worked in ancient Athens - my point is that a key part of it working was the fact that the selection was not made from the Attic populace as a whole, but from a defined group of elites.

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  • MentalExerciseMentalExercise Indefenestrable Registered User regular
    This would literally amplify exponentially the greatest problem in American government.

    It would result in a constantly revolving group of amateur freshman politicians who would require a group of industry veterans to guide them in order to get anything accomplished, formal or informal.

    And [ta-da!] you have a non-elected semi-permanent body that wields most of the power through manipulating their 'charges'.

    Which is unfortunately a lot of what goes on with governors, congressmen, and presidents now, but would be so much worse if they were completely random people.

    "More fish for Kunta!"

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    This would literally amplify exponentially the greatest problem in American government.

    It would result in a constantly revolving group of amateur freshman politicians who would require a group of industry veterans to guide them in order to get anything accomplished, formal or informal.

    And [ta-da!] you have a non-elected semi-permanent body that wields most of the power through manipulating their 'charges'.

    Which is unfortunately a lot of what goes on with governors, congressmen, and presidents now, but would be so much worse if they were completely random people.

    Once again, please see California.

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