Towards A Two-Legged Democracy

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Towards A Two-Legged Democracy

David Grant Created by David Grant

This group is about using sortition, choice-by-lot, to create truly representative legislatures.

Elections are said to be the heart of democracy. But the original system of democracy, in Athens, used a lottery to choose almost all of its office holders.

Elections obviously are strongly skewed by access to money. They also only allow access to those who have an acceptable media image. Elections also tend to narrow the range of opinions that can be considered.
Perhaps worst of all, elections demand that candidates ‘fight’ one another. In order to *run* for an office, a person must fit a psychological


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This group is about using sortition, choice-by-lot, to create truly representative legislatures.

Elections are said to be the heart of democracy. But the original system of democracy, in Athens, used a lottery to choose almost all of its office holders.

Elections obviously are strongly skewed by access to money. They also only allow access to those who have an acceptable media image. Elections also tend to narrow the range of opinions that can be considered.
Perhaps worst of all, elections demand that candidates ‘fight’ one another. In order to *run* for an office, a person must fit a psychological profile that is willing to say "Choose me over someone else, I'm better". Which is to say: a personality at least willing and able, if not constitutionally inclined, towards combat.
So ... no wonder politicians are "different than the rest of us". The system chooses for the most aggressive among us.

The passengers on the “Ship of State” should all have an equal say in where the ship heads. The only answer that is really of, by and for "all of us" is: sortitional selection, choice-by-lot. Then the legislature would reflect much more accurately the actual population. It would be much close to proportionally-representative.
(It does take, however, executive-specialists, chosen meritocratically – for their skill -- to actually steer that ship of state. So sortition would not be appropriate for the executive function.)

Since not everyone would want to be considered to take on the responsibility, there should be active registration, by which a person says, "Yes, I'm willing to serve." This would be very similar to what voter registration is today.
And, since there does need to be a minimum level of competency, there could be a civics test -- the same naturalization test given to immigrants -- no more difficult or demanding than a driver's license test, demonstrating a basic understanding of how the system works.
Finally, there should be an extensive orientation period for all new legislators.

There are other details which could be negotiated. For instance, I would propose a three-year term; with one-third of the legislature being replaced every year.
There are also other examples of sortition’s use. Most prominently, though a modified version: the jury system. Perhaps most spectacularly, since the group has survived centuries of grievous oppression: the Amish.

But the MAIN POINT of proposing a radical departure from the current system of elections is to get people asking: “Does the U.S.A. have a real democracy now? And, if not (as many believe), then what would a real democracy be?”
David Grant
TheCommonLot.com

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