Some political theorists and others have long argued that we should at least partially replace conventional democratic elections with decision-making through "sortition"—using randomly selected groups of voters to either elect government officials or make at least some types of policy decisions directly.Our Founders already addressed this, building on our inheritance of English law. They determined that most decisions affecting Americans' daily lives would be taken by, um, Americans, not a monarch.
Some decisions have to be taken collectively. We empower a government, in fact several governments at different scales, each accountable in some way to the people governed by them, but empowered to take certain actions in only certain matters.
We also empanel randomly-selected juries to make very specific determinations: guilt of a specific charged individual for a specific crime. One could dispute how well that random selection is working, and what constitutes a 'peer,' but there that is.
Yet sortition proponents suggest that a model nation-state use it to select its chief executive:
If, for example, ... they were part of a carefully chosen (albeit random) group of, say, 2000 Americans, to pick the next president, and if in addition there were "hearings" at which the candidates would speak and be subject to careful cross-examination concerning their views, there is every reason to trust that the choice would be well within the "margins of error" . . .Academic study of the virtues and disadvantages of sortition versus election assumes that government officials are routinely making decisions of nation-state scale and importance, and by golly if we've elected a Bad Orange Man---or a community organizer groomed by the corrupt Chicago political machine---that constitutes an error with a wider margin than we sober contemplative folk can accept. You in Flyover Country have to concede you're not very good at this. Let's instead select better people to make these world-shaking decisions for us all, using a process less dependent on name-recognition, and the fund-raising necessary to achieve it, to select them . . . .
. . .instead of leaving more of those decisions, and allocations of resources, to individuals or to emergent orders arising among individuals.
The posters being law professors and perhaps political scientists, it's not surprising that the solution they propose sounds a lot like a university's search committee.
Of course thumbs will be pressed on the scales: who will be carefully chosen, how to disqualify members on what criteria after having been chosen, how the "hearings" are conducted, who cross-examines, which questions are out of bounds, how to strike sustained objections from the record but not from the memories of the empaneled. The thumbs will never be held accountable. Who chooses the thumbs?
. . what might be termed a certain kind of "fetishism" that views our standard reliance on certain forms of election as the one true way of selecting leaders in a "representative democracy…."Arguments for sortition are to me a fetishization of the powers of government, much like fetishization of socialism, or of universities. If only the right people were put in charge.