Elections Are Terrible For Democracy

We should treat public service like jury duty instead

In Greece, they used a kleroterion to put people in office. You ran some balls through a tube, and the row/column the white ball landed on would be ‘selected’. Animation via TedEd

Look, it’s just not working out. Western democracies have devolved into oligarchy. Eastern democracies have reverted to feudalism. We’re electing millionaires and scions and calling it freedom but it’s just not. We need to try something else.

Original, Athenian democracy was not like this. Most people were deemed non-citizens, but if you were a citizen you had actual power. Because you actually held office. They used sortition for most posts — literally drawing lots. We should try this. How could it be worse?

Think about it. Everyone walks into a polling booth and puts their own name in the box (if they want to). Then you shake up the box and that’s how you appoint your local government, your Parliament, hell even your President. Sounds crazy yes, but how are we living now? We seem to elect our worst. Random people off the street simply could not be worse.

Then think about what this does for representation. We’d actually get it. If you select a Parliament randomly, it would be at least 50% women. It wouldn’t be just rich people, all income groups and classes would be represented. You wouldn’t need to raise millions of dollars or be born to the right family. Everyone can put their name in a box. Suddenly you’d have poor people deciding on the policies that effect them, and women controlling their bodies because they’d be in the damn room.

Then think about the policy this would produce. Right now politicians are rich, their donors are rich, and so you get policies that favor the rich. If serving in Parliament was akin to jury duty, however, you’d get ordinary people deciding on what effects them. Most politicians will never take public transit or send their kids to public schools, but most people do. If we were shuffled in and out of power randomly, policies that favor us would come out.

What could go wrong? Lots of things.