I like you as a voter

Ever since Socrates

It is a long standing tradition to deride sortition for putting in power unqualified people. The critics of sortition interviewed by Kevin Hartnett carry this tradition to the present.

Whether it is because the average person is incorrigibly incompetent, or just because they are inexperienced, the bottom line is the same: you just cannot hand power to the average person and expect good government. Socrates put it this way:

[N]o one would care to apply [sortition] in selecting a pilot or a flute-player or in any similar case, where a mistake would be far less disastrous than in matters political.

The straightforward argument is that the unqualified would simply make poor decisions:

There are ways in which we want our elected officials to look like us and then there are other ways in which we want them to be better than us. We actively try to select for some skills and talents when we choose politicians. (Susan Stokes, professor of political science at Yale University)

Continue reading