Matt Kosko invokes Aristotle

Matt Kosko, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, writes a letter to the students’ newspaper, The Pitt News:

To the Editor,

Election season is upon us, and the gatekeepers of respectable opinion at The Pitt News are once again insisting on the “crucial” importance of the SGB election (of course, every election is claimed to be “crucial” by those who fetishize representative government). But if I may, I’d like to dispute the idea that elections have anything to do with students “exercis[ing] their democratic power,” as the editors insist.

All the way back to Aristotle, it used to be understood that elections are a mark of aristocracy, where a few of the “best” people are selected to rule over the undifferentiated masses; free elections in representative systems produce governments that are in fact highly unrepresentative of the population at large in terms of race or class. In contrast, selection by lot is a principle of democracy as in the ancient Greek democracies, where officials were chosen randomly from the population. If we want to make our student government democratic, we would do well to abolish the elected SGB and replace it with a body chosen by lot among the student population.

This body would have no legislative power, just the power to enforce decisions ratified by a majority of students.