Reimagining democracy


Sortition advocacy in North Carolina

Owen Shaffer, a retired college professor living in Asheville, NC has an opinion piece in the local Citizen Times. Unlike many sortition advocates, Shaffer is not talking half-measures. He is ready to dispose of elections altogether and replace them with sortition:

Is there a better way to select representative bodies to govern us? Is it possible to remove “politics”, “lobbyist”, and “campaign contribution” from our vocabulary, and still have a democracy? Can we remove the oligarchic underpinnings to our democracy? One only needs to look at history to find the answer. “It is thought to be democratic for the offices to be assigned by lot, for them to be elected would be oligarchic” – Aristotle (Politics, Book 4, Section 1294b)

What changes might happen if the random selection of members of a governing body occurs? It would be more likely that they deliberate issues and not sink into decisions based on political affiliation, posturing, and “sound bite” opportunities. They would be unafraid to make hard choices since they would owe no one any favors nor have an opportunity for re-election. In short, they would be more willing to make the right decisions.