How to design a democratic legislative system – order of questions

I think it will help us, and could help many other people, to have a useful order of questions for designing a democratic legislative system. I’m not saying “the right order of questions,” or even “the most useful order” – only “a useful order.” I’m also not suggesting that we should follow this order in our conversations. Instead, I think it could act as a useful reference point for those times when someone says, “Wait a minute – it’s premature to talk about x before we’ve settled y.”

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Criteria – What criteria should define a “democratic” and “good” legislative system?
  2. Categories of actors – Which broad categories of actors (e.g. all the people, allotted representatives, elected representatives, all-purpose versus limited-purpose representatives, staff) should play important roles in the legislative process? What roles should they play?
  3. Activities – What are the main activities that must (or should?) be carried out in a democratic legislative process, and in what order? In some cases order will matter, in others it won’t.
  4. Bodies and offices – Which specific bodies and offices (e.g. allotted chamber, single issue panels) should carry out each activity, playing what roles?
  5. Processes – What processes should be used for each activity?

What do you think? I look forward to your ideas, and I’m hoping that maybe together we can create a simple structure that will not only help us, but many others as well.

Democracy and Social Justice

The new special issue of the journal Studies in Social Justice may be of interest to this forum, although only one of the papers (my own) is specifically on sortition. Full text freely available on line.


Guest Editor: Bob Brecher


Introduction: Democracy and Social Justice, Bob Brecher


Property, Propriety and Democracy, Mark Devenney
Jürgen Habermas and Bush’s Neoconservatives: Too Close for Comfort?, Vivienne Matthies-Boon
Inclusion and Participation: Working with the Tensions, Gideon Calder
The Two Sides of the Representative Coin, Keith Sutherland
The Dilemma of Democracy: Collusion and the State of Exception, Mark McGovern
Derrida, Democracy and Violence, Nick Mansfield