Technology is not the missing ingredient for democracy

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

To: “letters@newscientist.com”
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

Socialism in the USA — and they love it!

I’m sure most of you know about the lottery used to allocate newly qualifying players to the NFL football teams. But it unusual to see this described as ‘Socialism’ in the New Statesman, a major UK political magazine.

You can read the full article here (no paywall): The socialist principles at the heart of American Football.

Items of interest from America’s finest news source

The Onion:

Authorities Believe Man Radicalized While Serving 18 Years In Congress

WASHINGTON—Saying that being confined in such a volatile environment was known to have devastating psychological repercussions, FBI officials reported Wednesday that Ohio man Patrick Kinsey had apparently become radicalized during his 18 years spent inside of the U.S. Congress. “We’ve uncovered evidence that leads us to believe this elected official became heavily influenced by hardline extremists and religious fanatics during his time serving in the country’s legislative branch,” said FBI spokesperson Irene Jessup, adding that the representative appeared to have fallen in with a powerful fundamentalist faction during his first days in the congressional chamber and quickly adopted their strict interpretation of a fringe ideology. Continue reading