The principle of distinction

Technology is not the missing ingredient for democracy

An email I sent to the editors of The New Scientist:

To: “”
Subject: Technology is not the missing ingredient for democracy

Dear Editors,

As you write (“A vote for change“, 25 April, 2015), people perceive that “the parties are all the same, the politicians are all the same, they are not like us”. This perception reflects the inherent elitist nature of the electoral process. Within the electoral process people and parties compete for power. Those who manage to win form a select group with those distinct characteristics that allowed them to win: better connections, more wealth, better organizational skills, more ambition, etc. Why would we expect those winners to represent the rest of us?

Since non-representativity is inherent to the electoral process, technology cannot change its nature. Technology may shift power within the system. Those groups that find out how to exploit new technology may be able to gain power at the expense of others who fail to do so. However, the elitist nature of elections will persist. Those new to power will again be a distinctive group with their own particular agenda and interests and will not represent the public at large.

Achieving a democratic system will require a radical change: moving away from our reliance on elections for selection people with power. Representative power can be created by relying on an established scientific method for obtaining representativity: random sampling. When parliament is selected as a random sample of the population then it would truly be “like us” and then it can then be expected to create policy that promotes the interests of the average citizen.

Best regards,

Yoram Gat