Sortition and stronger executive power?

Can sortition facilitate stronger executive power?  I think it can, and in a way that results in more effective implementation of left public policymaking.

The traditional Marxist literature refers to the combination of legislative and executive power as a means of facilitating worker-class rule or broader popular rule, yet has not taken into account a key development in executive power itself in the 20th century: the war cabinet.

It is this particular form of government that poses strategic questions of power, not traditional legislatures, not town hall meetings, and not strike committees.  Its contemporary application is diverse, from the early and wartime Soviet governments, to the early government of the People’s Republic of China, to the first seventeen years of Cuba’s government after the Cuban Revolution, to Churchill’s wartime cabinet.

The initial approach to all this government stuff is this: redefine the relationship between (a) public policymaking, (b) legislative power, (c) governmental executive power, (d), ceremonial and other prerogative power, (e) civil administration, and (f) “legislating from the bench” (judicial review regarding constitutional law) on the basis of random sortition.  Drilling down, I will focus on the combination of (b), (c), (d), and at least part of (f) in either one unified organ or parallel organs.

(For the purposes of this discussion, I’ve broken down the conventional view of “executive power” into its three functional components: (c), (d), and (e).)
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Sortition in fiction

Most of what is written about sortition, or what I prefer to call fetura, is academic or polemic, but I have recently published a novel in which it features prominently. You might enjoy reading how this might unfold in the real world, or at least the real world of alternative history science fiction.

New Amazon Kindle book by Jon Roland

Wayward World: A new kind of hero must set history on a different course to save Earth from destruction almost a thousand years in the future.

You don’t need a Kindle device to read it. Almost any browser will do, with a plugin, or get the app. This is a fundraising project for the Constitution Society. All the revenues go to it.

Still making some minor edits to it that should be live in a day or so. Internet slow for you? If you can get to the book, reading it can give you something to do while you wait.

An interstellar planet is on a collision course with Earth in 1000 years. To get humanity ready to divert it, human technical progress needs to be advanced more rapidly, and history will take a wrong turn in 1265. Our heroes have to take Earth on a different course, without being around for the entire thousand years, so they have to set up institutions that can continue to move things forward and avoid several disasters that will set humanity back even further. They face strong resistance and many hazards, but are led by one who has the skill and charisma needed, if she can survive long enough.

One of the advantages of the Kindle edition is that it has live links to many web pages that provide background on much of the content discussed in the chapters.

Foa and Mounk: The democratic disconnect

A paper in the Journal of Democracy by Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk explores trends in the tremendously valuable World Values Survey database.

Drawing on data from Waves 3 through 6 of the World Values Surveys (1995–2014), we look at four important types of measures that are clear indicators of regime legitimacy as opposed to government legitimacy: citizens’ express support for the system as a whole; the degree to which they support key institutions of liberal democracy, such as civil rights; their willingness to advance their political causes within the existing political system; and their openness to authoritarian alternatives such as military rule.

What we find is deeply concerning. Citizens in a number of supposedly consolidated democracies in North America and Western Europe have not only grown more critical of their political leaders. Rather, they have also become more cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives. The crisis of democratic legitimacy extends across a much wider set of indicators than previously appreciated.

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Senior French politicians propose allotted institutions

Back in June Arnaud Montebourg, who had served as Minister of the Economy in the years 2012-2014 and who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2017, proposed, among other reforms of the French system aiming to “rebuild the trust” between the French people their political class, to have the Senate re-purposed to serve as a supervisory body and have its members selected by lot:

Could not the Senate, instead of being an end-of-the-career institution, be an allotted assembly, without legislative power because it is not representative, but with a supervisory role?

[My translation here and below.]

Now Emmanuel Macron, Montebourg’s successor as Minister of the Economy and possibly a presidential candidate in 2017 as well, has his own proposal for creating an allotted supervisory body:

The creation of a citizens’ commission

Each year, the president of the Republic has to appear before a citizens’ commission to be held to account, possibly supported by the Court of Audit. The former minister envisages the possibility of using allotment. This would allow the recreation of a little “political hygiene” in the system. For creating a democratic debate “which does not exist today”.

Hacking and Elections

An article on Deutsche Welle assures us that all is well in the Land of the Free (Elections):

Why hacking the US elections is extremely difficult

The hacking into the Democratic Party’s server has sparked a debate about the security of the US voting system. But experts are less worried about hackers breaking into election systems than about a political issue.

As if a presidential race unlike any other in recent memory, featuring the two most unpopular candidates ever, needed any additional suspense, it was amply provided by the fear that the election outcome could be altered by hackers.
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Graham Smith: The problem with politicians and democracy…

I would complete the headline of Alex Sakalis’s interview with Graham Smith on openDemocracy with “… is that they are mutually exclusive” (at least if by “politicians” it is meant “elected politicians”). Smith, however, strikes a more tentative note:

Citizens’ priorities are not necessarily the same as those of their political representatives. […] What is clear is that citizens are willing and able to deliberate on complex and contested political issues. The question is whether they will be listened to by local and national political leaders. The evidence is not promising.
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Democracy talk – Episode 4

Patrick and I discuss the upcoming U.S. elections, diminishing candidate favorability, electoral crisis, the principle of distinction and other matters.

“[W]e usually end up where we need to be.”

Hillary Clinton, from the recent Wikileaks release:

You just have to sort of figure out how to — getting back to that word, “balance” — how to balance the public and the private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that’s not just a comment about today. That, I think, has probably been true for all of our history, and if you saw the Spielberg movie, Lincoln, and how he was maneuvering and working to get the 13th Amendment passed, and he called one of my favorite predecessors, Secretary Seward, who had been the governor and senator from New York, ran against Lincoln for president, and he told Seward, I need your help to get this done. And Seward called some of his lobbyist friends who knew how to make a deal, and they just kept going at it. I mean, politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position. And finally, I think — I believe in evidence-based decision making. I want to know what the facts are. I mean, it’s like when you guys go into some kind of a deal, you know, are you going to do that development or not, are you going to do that renovation or not, you know, you look at the numbers. You try to figure out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. [Clinton Speech For National Multi-Housing Council, 4/24/13]