“[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]

22 Responses

  1. David,

    Draw your own conclusions.

    To me, the general sense of the quintessential electoral politician that things usually turn out for the best and her nonchalant assertion that it is the standard modus operandi to present false positions to the public are both of interest.


  2. “Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been.”
    There we have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. This much I can believe.


  3. Given Clinton’s commitment to evidence-based decision making, “we usually end up where we need to be” could be interpreted charitably; and given the reality of rational ignorance in mass politics the public/private distinction is understandable (it’s bog-standard Straussian political theory). Conducting all debate in the full glare of publicity can have the unintended effect of silencing minority and non-PC perspectives.


  4. Surely there are plenty of other Hilaries & Donnies waiting in the wings to exploit this system, but few voters know what the alternatives are.

    If there ever was an ideal time for Equality by Lot fans (myself included) to practice what we preach & start filling an events page to help make sortition a viable option I think this is it!


  5. Barnaby,

    What’s the relevance of sortition for the selection of a head of administration/Commander in Chief? Even the Athenians used election for this sort of office. Or are you suggesting the president should be selected from a shortlist of candidates by an electoral college selected by lot?


  6. Barnaby,

    > practice what we preach & start filling an events page to help make sortition a viable option I think this is it!

    I am always looking for ways to disseminate the message of sortition. What does “filling an events page” mean?


  7. Hi Yoram,

    Beside ‘Books’, ‘Home’, ‘Contributors’ etc. it would be great to have a choice of ‘Events’ too.

    Equity by Zealots prepare for battle


  8. !


  9. !

    (This is the missing exclamation mark after “battle”)


  10. This is Barnaby, not Anonymous. Not sure what happened there.


    Thanks for your question. I will respond ASAP.

    Cheers, B


  11. Barnaby,

    I am not sure what would go into events page.


  12. Keith,

    In his 15minute broadcast on Radio 4 proposing selecting the legislature by lot & posted here by Yoram on April 24th 2014, Benet Brandreth offers us a vision of how true representative democracy might work in a jury-style system with, as you commentedat the time ‘an allotted legislature and the consent of the governed’.
    In response to your last question I’m still a trifle green on the details but in my defence neither did Brandreth mention that aspect about electing a Commander in Chief.
    Ahmed Taleb on 27th April 2014 has much to say about consent, calling it a trap and a red herring, but the interesting thing is this is partly what dialogue is all for.. troubleshooting.

    In ‘As good as it gets’, (1997) Jack Nicholson is at home fretting about asking out a woman (Helen Hunt), and whines to his co-star “I’m drowning here and you’re describing the water”.

    Well I think this is where we’re all at.

    Dialogue has surpassed saturation point, and not unlike a Shakespearean play the only way we’ll ever really know how Equality by Lot works is by acting it out & bringing it to life. I think it will triumph.

    On16th November I am hiring a local venue to have a confirmed speaker – a human rights lawyer discuss Brexit implications etc with a modest audience. But more importantly I’m now very motivated to look for a way to get sortition going locally, inspired by G1000.


  13. Barnaby,

    Whilst we don’t want to drown in details, the selection of a commander-in-chief and a legislative jury really are chalk and cheese. Given that the US presidential election has now been reduced to a branch of the entertainments industry there might well be a case for a randomly-selected electoral college, but this would be very different from appointing the president by lot. If we are serious in our sortition advocacy then we do need at least to be clear about what we want to use it for.


  14. To Any,

    I feel this may be EbL’s time to go analogue! Who dares wins!

    Circumstances, combined with our strong shared conviction that sortition is the most democratic model for social equilibrium, and the only realistic means of building consensus [on how to face the big issues of the day] oblige us all to try and bring sortition and communities together at the grass roots level.

    My event confirmed: 16th November.


  15. Barnaby,

    >sortition is . . . the only realistic means of building consensus

    Why so, and why do you think consensus is a realistic or valuable goal? Democratic politics is generally seen as a way of accommodating differences in a peaceful manner.


  16. I wonder if all sortitionists (a.k.a. Klerotorians) would agree that the worst case outcome of a statistically-representative legislature would be: “At least we would be getting what we deserve”?


  17. Didn’t mean to be anonymous in previous post (“I wonder if all sortitionists…). — David Grant


  18. David,

    Agree, iff the constraints for ongoing representativity are maintained. I guess then the observation is little more than a tautology (although proponents of epistemic, trustee and other elitist forms of government would use this as an argument against democracy). Note also that the case for ongoing representativity precludes any form of “pure” sortition, as the active functions of representatives are not subject to the law of large numbers, so we would need to add to your worst case scenario that we get the demagogues that we deserve. I wonder if Manin is reconsidering his justification of audience democracy as one of the (acceptable) metamorphoses of representative government in the light of the American presidential race? His original book was written in 1997 which was the year the rot set (in the UK) as the office of prime minister and First Lord of the Treasury was hijacked by a wannabe thespian.


  19. The other side of the tautology would then presumably be that the BEST case outcome would be “Finally, we are getting what we deserve”.
    It’s been a while since I read Manin. By ‘audience democracy’ does he mean the same as ‘legitimating democracy’ (as opposed to ‘participatory democracy’)?
    My advocacy of sortition does come down, I admit, on the side of ‘best case’ … say, into the 60th or 70th percentile of the better-angels-of-our-natures.
    Given that we humans are predominantly cooperative (otherwise we wouldn’t be over-populating the planet), I think the optimistic view can be defended.
    I would like to get what we deserve.


  20. Ooops … ‘better-angels-of-our-nature’ (singular).


  21. David,

    Manin argues that representative government has morphed through three stages: parliamentary democracy, party democracy and (now) audience democracy. The first stage involved delegating power to trusted notables, the second to groups with whom one shared common ideology/interests. In the last stage politicians are compared to stage actors who compete with each other to give the best performance to the electorate.

    >I think the optimistic view can be defended. I would like to get what we deserve.

    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!


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