Friday, September 21, 2012

Fixing Democracy, Part 3

This is the next in a series of posts on how to make our democracy work better based on an article in The Intelligent Optimist magazine (formerly Ode) by Tom Atlee.


“In addition to being more resistant to corruption, such panels constitute microcosms of the citizenry.  Individually, panel members are more like their fellow citizens than politicians are. In fact, they are ordinary citizens. Together—because of the way they are chosen—they embody the diversity, values and life experience of the whole community from which they were selected.  Note how different this is both from elected politicians and from participatory approaches that are based on whoever shows up.


“Used in this way—to create a microcosm of a community—random selection helps keep democratic processes fair and vibrant. Every citizen has an equal chance of being selected, and being selected is a great honor and responsibility shared by all.


“Random selection is not a wild new idea. It has a long and interesting history. Roughly 2,500 years ago, Athens’ democracy was run with a mix of direct democracy (all the citizens voting on everything in a big assembly) and random selection (they drew lots to fill 90% of the official positions in government).  They used elections only to choose their top generals and to fill Athens’ top financial positions.  They considered random selection fundamental to democracy—a sacred embodiment of fairness and citizen responsibility for the welfare of the whole community [not 47% or 99%].”

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