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
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)
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?