Brandon Joyce on sortition

Commenter ee points to a couple of videos in which Brandon Joyce makes a presentation about sortition on Channel 9 WPDN Public Distribution Network in Kensington, Philadelphia, PA.

Joyce got to the idea of sortition by reading Rancière. He starts out by pointing out the aristocratic or oligarchical nature of elections. He then puts out up a list of advantages of sortition over elections:

  • Dispenses with elections, campaigns, campaign finance
  • Partially free us from “particratic” polarization, ideologies, loyalties
  • Results in a far more accurate representation of “We, the People.” (“Get politicians out of politics!”)
  • Engages and empowers populace
  • Mitigates the corruption of long-entrenched power an d political class (for a time, at least)

In the second part Joyce lists what he sees as problems of sortition and suggests solutions to those problems. The problems are:

  • Relinquishes expertise of “statescraft” or skills of “leadership”
  • Requires training
  • Little accountability
  • Possibly allows for other forms of corruption, undue influence

The solutions are:

  • Providing ready access to “expertise,” or “braintrusts”
  • Voluntary participation (solving the issue of compulsion and political enthusiasm)
  • Forms of either sequestration or transparency
  • “Mystery” members, which control for corrupting influences
  • Dismissal by vote
  • Balanced by elected body (a Senate)

2 Responses

  1. The 2013 Youth Parliament of Belgium (from 27th september – 18th november 2013) wrote a decree, which is actually a kind of constitution.

    Here is one part of the decree:

    Article 8

    § 1. The Citizens’ Assembly consists of 150 members.

    § 2. 100 deputies are nominated by a draw among citizens.

    § 3. 50 members are co-opted in the outgoing Assembly for a second term.

    § 4. The office of MP is granted for 2 years and is renewable once.

    It is so encouraging and surprising, as the young people that produced that radical document were not chosen according to any political view (100 people, from 17 to 26yo). I will try to join some of the people that participated in the event and ask them how it happened, if you can publish it then it would be great, I’ll tell you.


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