Unger: We really don’t have much to lose!

Stephen Unger, formerly a professor of engineering at Columbia University has a short article proposing sortition as a replacement to elections with several points worth discussing:


Great care should be taken to ensure that the selection process is truly random. The method used should be very simple and transparent. No fancy technology. Note that every stage magician is expert at faking random choices.

Body size:

Assume that, in the new system, the legislative body consists of 200 randomly chosen citizens


Assume that only American citizens at least 21 years old are eligible. Including a modest number of young people is desirable as they are likely to be more energetic, and it is worthwhile to have their views considered. Setting an upper age limit would be difficult. We might allow people over the age of 70 to decide for themselves whether they should be eligible for selection. There should be some minimal education requirement, such as limiting the selection to high school graduates.

Term of service:

What should be the term of office for the legislators? Too short a term would not give them enough time to learn the job. Too long a term would disrupt their lives, and/or make them feel too special, perhaps to the point that they were corrupted. One year seems like a good compromise–enough time to learn the job–but not likely to upset their lives too much.

Probably the most important problem that most people would face would be the disruption of the education and social lives of their children. High level professional athletes might suffer from a substantial layoff. Physicians might have problems–possibly interrupting the treatment of some patients. If the term of office did not exceed a year, this would not be all that bad, assuming special treatment for special cases. For example, we might have some minimal interval, say 3 months between selection and the start of service. Delaying start of service too much might open the door to people being corrupted. Let us assume a one-year term, which seems plausible.


If we assume the salary of a member of congress would be about what it is today (of the order of $174,000 annually [7]), then this would be, for most people, very generous (median annual income of individual Americans is roughly $31K [8].) Wealthy people would probably not suffer too much–in most cases their incomes are largely from capital. Poor people would benefit substantially.

Selection of the executive:

The parliament might, as in most European countries, choose one of its members to be the chief executive (prime minister). But a one-year term might not be feasible, as it really isn’t enough time to master the job. It might be a good idea to have those completing their 1-year terms to elect one of their members, i.e., an outgoing member, to serve an additional year–or perhaps 2 years–as chief executive. Or maybe they should choose more freely from among the general population. This is a point that calls for more thinking.

Procedure for introduction and testing:

Sortition could be tested on a small scale by implementing it for some small municipalities. Then for governments of larger cities, then states, etc. Given the prevalence of scandals and failed governments, more and more people might be open to such experiments.

30 Responses

  1. There should definitely NOT be any formal education requirement. (“There should be some minimal education requirement, such as limiting the selection to high school graduates.”) The minimum age should be younger than 21.


  2. I agree that exclusions should only be used in extreme cases.

    Regarding the other points:

    Randomization: Yes – it is very important to have the randomization verifiably fair. This is not an easy task since the stakes are much higher than in the most lucrative lotteries.

    Body size: Yes – 200 seems the right size. It is at the higher end of what can still produce an all-to-all conversation.

    Term of service: 1 year is too short. It is barely enough to get acquainted with the topics, with the other members of the body, with the procedures, etc. I think we should stick to 4 years as is now the standard period of service in many parliaments. Anything shorter than that will leave most power in the hand of professionals running the system. Yes – that would mean that there would be a large disruption to the lives of the allottees. That is unavoidable, unfortunately, and the allottees should understand that they are carrying out a hugely important task that requires some sacrifice for which they are compensated financially and in other very important ways.

    Selection of the executive: Yes – the executive should be selected by the allotted legislature. However, unlike things are today, the allotted body should be firmly in charge. So the executive should be closely monitored by the allotted body, and be accountable to it. This also implies that the term of the executive should typically be shorter than that of the allotted chamber. This is another reason that the allotted chamber should have a term of several years. Otherwise it would be in a position where it could be easily manipulated by the executive.

    Procedure for introduction and testing: Starting at the local level is not a promising way to go about introducing sortition. Sortition only works well when it is used to constitute a body that is perceived by the average allottee as having significant power justifying the investment in time and energy. Local government does not meet this criterion. The way to start is by applying sortition to policy areas that are both naturally circumscribed and are generally perceived as being important. One such area is addressing corruption and ethics in elected bodies. This area clearly presents a conflict of interest for the elected and therefore seems natural for the application of sortition. Another promising area is the management of the country’s natural resources – again an area that is perceived as important and which the elected are not trusted to manage properly.


  3. I can’t see much in ‘shooting the breeze’ type arguments such as this one.

    We can all speculate on our favourite utopia. Doesn’t amount to much.


  4. Hi Nicholas,

    I agree that detailed designs are not useful. However, without having a general direction to aim for – “knowing which way is up” – we are just ineffectively flailing around and are likely to be led astray.


  5. I prefer that the final say in legislation be given to legislative juries that serve short terms, and that each only decide one law by majority vote in the context of a trial-like process (or decide which, if any, of a set of contradictory proposed laws on the same topic passes).

    This is of course in keeping with Athenian legislative juries that each decided only one proposed law after a “trial” between that law and the law it would replace. It is also in keeping with trial juries that decide just one trial (rather than for example serving for a year or more and deciding many trials).

    On this point I think the Athenians got it right (though each jury could serve for weeks or months rather just the one day that legislative juries served in Athens), and that the trial jury tradition is also correct (it seems to me) in limiting juries to deciding just one trial, and then fairly soon disbanding back into the public.

    Paying jurors $174,000.00 per year, especially for any extended period of time, and especially if this will boost their pension (as presumably it would apart from those who are already members of the 1%) would render such jurors unrepresentative of the public in terms of income and wealth, and therefore make them a flawed and dubious stand-in for the public. Even for just one year, such a rate of pay would impact negatively on a jury’s representativeness of the public.

    I don’t think it is desirable for existing legislatures to be simply switched from being chosen by popular election to being chosen by lottery. Instead, the key thing to me is that final decisions about laws be made by legislative juries.

    I am in favour of a separation of powers between legislative juries that decide laws, and the formulating and proposing of laws that are proposed to them. Proposed laws can be worked out and proposed by professional politicians chosen by jury, by law reform commissions chosen by jury, by expert regulatory commissions chosen by jury (regarding proposed laws within their area of expertise), by citizens’ assemblies such as the one in Ireland, and by public interest groups.

    One reason for this separation of powers is that I see no reason why the best proposed laws would come from a Congress chosen by lottery, rather than from the other possible sources of proposed laws I just mentioned.

    Deciding for or against one proposed law in the context of a trial-like process is within the realistic capacity and competence of a randomly sampled jury of several hundred to 1,000 citizens (large enough to be quite statistically representative of the public) serving for short terms of service (say one year maximum, but typically just a few days, weeks or months), it seems to me (given very well designed procedures). Expecting a randomly sampled jury serving for short terms to carry out all the functions and activities now conducted by the Senate and House of Representative is not, it seems to me.

    Education requirements and any other basis for excluding people from juries (other than in extreme cases as Yoram indicates) is contrary to democracy and the equality of citizens. It is reminiscent of proposals to limit the right to vote to those who can pass a test or have a university degree or something. Ditto re excluding 18, 19 and 20 year old citizens.


  6. I agree with the broad thrust of Simon’s comment. The authors of a draft law are automatically ill-suited to then also be the judges of whether that draft should become law. They are biased with pride of authorship and can no longer be objective nor impartial. The final say must go to a short duration, highly representative mini-public dealing with just one issue.

    There are also many practical reasons why a single mini-public cannot competently carry out all the tasks assumed to be carried out by an elected chamber. It should be noted that an elected legislature is ALSO not competent to do all these tasks.

    Some sortitionists advocate a one-for-one replacing of an elected legislature with one selected by lot. This cannot work. Many lay people have the false sense that a chamber of perhaps 150 or 500 elected representatives work in various committees to draft bills, take testimony digest relevant information, deliberate, and pass judgment on the huge number of bills. This never happens in any national chamber, and cannot be done in a random mini-public either.

    The way things actually work (I was an elected lawmaker for 20 years) is that a huge assortment of behind the scenes people do nearly all the crafting of proposals. Senator Ted Kennedy wrote in his autobiography that around 95% of all such legislative drafting and negotiating was carried out NOT by the elected legislators. The people who do this work are unrepresentative legislative staffers, special interest lobbyists, campaign contributors, think tanks, and party insiders. Often a few elected members of a particular committee DO come to understand many details of the draft bills they look at, but often they simply rely on the lobbyists, staffers, and others in whom they have political trust. The rest of the elected legislators, not on the committees could not possibly understand the vast number of bills that come to the floor… Indeed they rarely read any of the bills, let alone understand them. They simply follow the lead of the party members of the committee they know and trust, who in turn are following the lead of the lobbyists, staffers and others they trust. It is impossible for a group of 150 or 500 representatives to understand and digest the needed information to make informed decisions on the huge number of bills considered. They ALL rely on various heuristics.

    If we throw out all the elected members and replace them with ordinary randomly selected citizens, yet they still have the job that we imagine elected legislators have, and need to handle a huge number of bills, they would need to use similar heuristics (relying on the guidance of political parties, think tanks, and lobbyists …we only remove the campaign donors). Even if they break into committees (which due to small size would no longer be statistically representative of the population), these committees dealing with many bills would need shortcuts just like elected legislators. Elected legislatures are both undemocratic and incapable of genuine deliberation on a wide variety of bills. Merely substituting random selection without a complete reworking of how legislation is crafted and considered, would accomplish virtually nothing for democracy, nor quality of output.

    Sortition is essential for democracy, but it is not sufficient. The entire structure of the law making process needs to be overhauled.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I agree with Simon and Terry (noting that the former is a lawyer and the latter was an elected legislator)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 1. An allotted constitutional body should be in charge of setting the institutions, rules and procedures of government (this body could be the same body carrying other government functions as well or it could be a separate body). Thus if any of the arguments above (or different arguments) convince the members of that body that the legislation process should be split into multiple stages involving multiple bodies, so be it. However, setting those institutions, rules and procedures a-priori in a way that would not be changeable on an ongoing basis later is undemocratic. Conversely, if the constitutional body is powerful enough and democratic enough then all else can be fixed in due course.

    2. Personally I am quite unconvinced by the arguments above. I would expect an allotted body to have roughly the same structure of division of labor described by Terry – legislators learning who to trust and who to collaborate with, picking up areas of interest and expertise, etc. The difference would be that the body would be representing interests that are aligned with those of the public rather than narrow interests.

    3. “Adding sources” of legislation to that of legislation proposed in the allotted parliament means, in fact, having elite dominated channels for legislation. “Popular initiative”, “expert bodies”, etc. are all in fact elite dominated channels and to the extent that they produce legislation that is different from legislation proposed in the allotted chamber they would simply be a way for elites to promote their interests at the expense of the average citizen. Needless to say, the allottees do not live in a vacuum and they can communicate and consult with whoever they see fit as they decide which legislation to propose in the allotted chamber. Thus, insisting that legislation should be proposed in the allotted chamber does not mean that other elements in society are not involved in generating legislation. It merely means that agenda setting power remains is held by a representative body (any other arrangement would be undemocratic).

    4. As I have written several times before (including recently in this thread), there are good reasons to expect that having a final up-or-down vote on legislation by a short term body would be destructive to the quality of the proposals that would reach that final up-or-down vote. Despite revisiting this issue frequently, I have never seen these objections addressed.


  9. As Yoram’s arguments are a priori/definitional it’s hard to know how to respond.


  10. Yoram wrote

    >”there are good reasons to expect that having a final up-or-down vote on legislation by a short term body would be destructive to the quality of the proposals that would reach that final up-or-down vote. Despite revisiting this issue frequently, I have never seen these objections addressed.”

    There are many reasons why the body that crafts legislation should not be empowered to adopt it. Here are four:

    1. Through the process of crafting policy, certain dynamics (group-think, confirmation bias, deferring to high status members, etc.) the crafting body may develop defective policy. However, there are powerful psychological factors that prevent them from recognizing their own failures (including pride of authorship, embarrassment of backing down, etc.) Only a SEPARATE mini-public can have the necessary distance and independence to imartially evaluate the product of the first body’s efforts. The author is automatically unsuited to also be the judge.

    2. An ongoing mini-public that deals with many different bills will inevitably end up engaged in horse-trading of votes. The ideal of deliberation is seeking common ground… but sometimes there are incompatible interests at stake. While horse-trading is often spun as desirable “negotiation” it obliterates evaluating legislation based on its merits. I will paste a quote from a journal article that I recently wrote (coincidentally, just published today in Society & Politics journal)

    “Because negotiation is such a prevalent part of decision making in elected chambers (and elsewhere), it is common to assume that negotiation is the appropriate way to resolve conflicting interests. However, negotiation is not the only, or necessarily the best, alternative to deliberation. Negotiation reflects relative power and often involves
    threats as well as inducements. Should public decisions necessarily be a manifestation of relative power? Even when power is more equal, negotiation often devolves to horse trading on completely unrelated policy matters. Negotiation and bargaining among elected legislators [or randomly selected long-duration mini-public members] can mean that: you get that amendment, which benefits your group but hurts society as a whole, and I get this other amendment, which benefits my group but hurts society as a whole. Indeed, legislators are especially motivated to negotiate deals when their sought-after policies cannot be justified as beneficial to society.
    “One alternative to both deliberation and negotiation (when incompatible interests clash) is arbitration with an impartial entity serving as judge in pursuit of fairness or justice. This tool is “off the table” as an option in elected chambers, which evince relative power (rather than fairness). One can imagine a dispute-resolution process in
    which each interest group on a particular issue offered its optimal compromise and a minipublic selected from among the possible compromises offered, using fairness, rather than power, as its standard.”

    3. A longer-duration mini-public that is crafting legislation will be less tempted to insert corrupt pet-projects (horse-trading deals) if they know a separate mini-public will be reviewing their work. The second body thus also serves to keep the first body honest.

    4. A longer duration mini-public will inevitably be less representative than a short duration one is able to be, simply because it is more feasible to get either a high rate of agreement to serve, or alternatively to make service compulsory, if only for a short time. Crafting legislation will generally take a relatively longer time (and members need context and to develop some amount of expertise on the subject matter). On the other hand, listening to pro and con presentations and then voting yes or no on a final draft can be done much more quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well put Terry, and we should all recognise that your arguments are informed by your direct experience of the legislative process.


  12. Terry and Simon,

    I think we are in complete agreement regarding the analytic distinction between proposing and disposing in lawmaking and that the latter function should be assigned to large ad hoc randomly selected juries. As we disagree on the role of sortition in policy proposals, could I suggest that we park this problem for the time being for the following reasons:

    1. For the sortition movement to have any impact it is better for there to be consensus, rather than continuous squabbling. It would be very hard to argue against Terry’s four points.

    2. Legislative decision making by large ad hoc juries has clear historical provenance.

    3. It is at least plausible (for reasons that Terry, echoing Harrington, has provided) that proposers would be obliged to come up with policies that would survive the deliberative scrutiny of the citizen jury. This would, at minimum, reduce the elite domination of the political process.

    4. The role proposed for minipublics is an extremely radical one, and I think it’s unlikely that we could hope for anything more at the outset. Softlee softlee catchee monkey.


  13. Ps the converse of (2) is that there is no historical provenance for juries taking an active role in policy proposals.


  14. Keith,
    Sorry… actually the primary point of the journal article I wrote that was just published is why a sortition jury should NOT be paired with an elected chamber (in a hybrid bicameralism). My argument in the article is that maintaining an elected chamber will stymie the potential benefits of using sortition. Here is the link to the article… unfortunately the publisher of the Politics & Society journal, SAGE, has it behind a paywall.
    “Why hybrid bicameralism is not right for sortition.” Politics & Society 46(3): 435–451.


  15. Terry,

    That’s a disappointment, as our agreement on the design and function of a final decision-making chamber is pretty much 100% (ditto Simon).


  16. PS pace the title of this piece we really do have a lot to lose if we make uncompromising demands for sortition-only solutions to our political problems. Much better to promote the one thing we all (except Yoram) agree on, rather than seeking the ideal solution and being dismissed as utopian dreamers, even if this means that some of us will have to hold our noses, sup with the enemy etc (choose your own preferred cliche). I do believe that Terry’s four points (and my four point response) would be accepted by most thoughtful people, even if they had no interest in sortition and were not disposed to abolish elections. But judging from the debates on this forum I don’t think there is any chance of agreement on the role of sortition in generating policy proposals, so better to bracket that element out for the time being. This is assuming we are serious about implementing sortition, as opposed to building ideal theoretical models.


  17. Keith,
    You might find the thrust of my argument more palatable than you expect… My proposal for transition to sortition democracy is to AVOID a head to head confrontation with elected politicians as long as possible. The plan is to peel away one policy domain at a time, and transfer responsibility from the elected chamber to a sortition-based policy making system. For example… have randomly selected citizens charged with all decisions about health care, such that politicians are out of the loop. If that works well, then maybe move all decisions about land use and zoning, or revenue and taxes from elected bodies to sortition, etc. I suspect elections may never be 100% replaced, but like the monarchy that still exists within electoral systems, my vision is that the elected chamber eventually is reduced to a vestige…like the monarch, they may get to keep their prestige, but not much power.


  18. Terry,

    As our dispute is over the role of voluntarism and sortition in policy formulation, I don’t find your argument palatable. Not only is it undemocratic (on account of the total absence of representative isegoria), but the elected politicians and voters disenfranchised by the process (albeit in a finite set of policy domains) will be highly unlikely to take it lying down. I’m disappointed that we cannot all (minus Yoram) focus on the one area that we all agree on, for the four reasons that I outlined earlier. But I’m seeking to improve and further democratise our existing political institutions, whereas you are proposing a revolution (albeit an incremental one). This is why the sortition movement is unable to present a unified front and will continue to do so while it is dominated by former Marxists who are still intent on overturning the system.

    PS if you are right in your claim that elected/allotted bicameralism is unworkable then my suggestion (start with large allotted juries at the decision stage) would quickly be exposed as a sham. I predict otherwise (for good Harringtonian/Downsian reasons) and the best way to find out who is right is by putting it to the test.


  19. Terry:> The elected chamber eventually is reduced to a vestige…like the monarch, they may get to keep their prestige, but not much power.

    Society . . . will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong—into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax. (Frederick Engels. Origins of the Family, Chapter IX)


  20. PS my reference to Marxism should not be taken as pejorative. What I was referring to was a millenarian mindset that is common to (evangelical) Christians, Marxists and Sortinistas — the existing corrupt moral/economic/political order needs to be swept away and replaced tout court. The few remaining liberals on this site are perfectly happy with incremental improvements. I think it’s the case that the majority of non-sortinistas don’t share the millenarian mindset, hence my plea for us all to focus on something that most reasonable people would accept, even if it falls short of heaven on earth.


  21. Terry,

    > There are many reasons why the body that crafts legislation should not be empowered to adopt it. Here are four:

    We’ve been over those arguments before, including in the thread that I linked to above. Here are summaries of the refutations of your claims:

    1. Dynamics of crafting policy: You are implying that those who craft policy are not as well able to understand it as a group of observers who only spend a short time analyzing the proposed policy. This goes against experience and common sense that tell us that spending time and energy studying a subject increases understanding of that subject rather than decreases it. If were to accept your claim we would have to do away with the entire notion of expertise.

    2. Horse-trading/logrolling: This is a perfectly legitimate and constructive political activity.

    3. Corruption: This should be dealt specifically through the courts.

    4. Unrepresentativity of the makeup of long-term bodies: Rather than assuming this would be the case, incentives and accommodations must be in place so that this is not the case. However, if it is the case, having short-term up-or-down decision making bodies would not be a fix for the agenda being set by unrepresentative bodies, and the resulting system would be undemocratic.


  22. Yoram:> having short-term up-or-down decision making bodies would not be a fix for the agenda being set by unrepresentative bodies, and the resulting system would be undemocratic.

    Agreed, but for a different reason (voluntaristic long-term allotted bodies are not a source of representative isegoria). Given that there is fundamental disagreement over isegoria in large multicultural states, we should park this problem for the time being and focus on what (most of us) agree on.


  23. Yoram,
    1. Yoram wrote:
    >”You are implying that those who craft policy are not as well able to understand it as a group of observers who only spend a short time analyzing the proposed policy.”

    I have several disputes with your notion that an all-purpose legislative body crafting legislation and also adopting it is a good idea. Firstly, they will NOT be expert nor have a superior understanding of the issues than a single-purpose body focused on a single bill. If they rely on a subcommittee (simply for pragmatic reasons of volume of issues needing addressing), that body will be unlikely to be representative, due to small size. If they DO manage to become expert, they will still fall into various psychological traps that prevent them from impartially evaluating their work. Experts are perfectly able to make horrible errors of judgement, and be unable to recognize it, whereas “fresh eyes” without pride of authorship may detect those errors.

    2. Yoram wrote:
    >”Horse-trading/logrolling: This is a perfectly legitimate and constructive political activity.”

    Horse trading /log-rolling votes may deliver good or disastrous deals… but what it assures is that bills will not be advanced based on their actual merits. My design assures bills are evaluated on their merits from the perspective of the general public. I acknowledge this limits the ability of minorities (whether oppressed minorities are the advantaged wealthy) to cut deals to concede on some issues to gain on others, but I favor a system based on seeking justice and fairness over one based on relative power.

    3. Yoram wrote:
    >”Corruption: This should be dealt specifically through the courts.”

    I was speaking of a different kind of “corruption” — not the kind that is illegal, but rather the kind that horse-trading votes produces… passing two unrelated policies that are bad for society as a whole and could never pass on their own, but CAN pass when special interests conspire over time in a long-duration body to make a trade.

    4. Yoram wrote:
    >” Unrepresentativity of the makeup of long-term bodies: Rather than assuming this would be the case, incentives and accommodations must be in place so that this is not the case.”

    Shorter duration would not provide perfect representativity, but better. There are whole classes of people who could agree to serve for a short duration who would not serve for a year or more (new mothers, individuals launching a new business that requires their full attention to avoid its failing, people with little interest in public policy, etc.). You COULD try to get around this with MANDATORY service, but that has its own difficulties.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Terry,

    1. The issue at hand is not all-purpose vs. single-purpose but long-term vs. short-term. Clearly, long term means more expertise compared to short term. Again, expertise certainly has its drawbacks, but if in general we prefer less expertise to more expertise, then surely the whole concept of expertise is counter-productive.

    2. Log-rolling certainly involves evaluation based on merit. It is just that packages of merit can be considered, including trade-offs on different areas. This increases the potential for coalition building and compromise which is a good thing.

    3. We have been over this before. If the court decides that the situation that you describe is illegitimate then it should be illegal. The allottees should be aware that their decisions are being scrutinized by their peers and if they are judged to have acted in bad faith they would be held responsible. (That, by the way, is a much more effective form of accountability than the so-called ‘electoral accountability’.) There could also be a process by which a guilty-for-corruption decision triggers a re-consideration of the law by a review body. Presumably, however, that would be a fairly rare event.

    4. Again, if your long-term body is unrepresentative all is lost to begin with – you will not have a democratic system anyway. Having a perfectly representative body making an up-or-down vote on bills proposed by an unrepresentative body is not a democracy. (This is in addition to the main problem which is that the short-term body is not representative in the sense that it is not self-representative because in a few days or weeks it cannot understand a complex topic well enough to make an informed decision about it.)


  25. Yoram:> if your long-term body is unrepresentative all is lost to begin with – you will not have a democratic system

    Terry has already indicated some of the ways in which long-term allotted bodies will inevitably become unrepresentative of the public that they “describe”, so I think you need to explain exactly what you mean by “representative” and “democratic”, as you don’t seem to be using the words in the same way as everybody else.


  26. Yoram, the only way I can understand your sentence is as a tautology — your operational definition of democracy is the policy and decision output (you don’t, in practice, differentiate isegoria and isonomia) of long-term full-mandate allotted bodies, hence if the latter are unrepresentative then “all is lost”. Terry and I, by contrast, view democracy as the product of a complex network of institutions (although we differ on what those institutions should be, only agreeing on the final up/down decision-making body). If democracy is a system property, then the design can be revised as necessary, as nothing can be settled on an an priori (definitional) basis.


  27. Yoram>> Dynamics of crafting policy: You are implying that those who craft policy are not as well able to understand it as a group of observers who only spend a short time analyzing the proposed policy.

    Crafting policy, creating, innovating are very different activities to judging a policy or an innovation. The former require genius, the latter sound judgement. An idea, a brilliant solution are a spark which comes suddenly to a specific individual but brilliance cannot be forced by randomly selected committee or jury. That’s why sortition is unsuitable for the initial innovation part.

    Judging an innovation is different. Sortition is a great tool to get stratified judges. Even so, judging needs to be a step-by-step process, the judges will need time to understand the innovator’s fresh thinking, most may think it crazy at first. The innovator in turn will need time to remove flaws from an otherwise brilliant underlying idea, as and when judges come up with objections.

    Let’s think of policy making like any uncertain venture, a process, society should allocate resources only as an idea evolves and ultimately gets put to practical use. It is the step decisions which are suitable for sortition, not the sweaty work between steps.



  28. Hubertus,

    We’ve been over this before. Are you are making a point that was not discussed in that thread?


  29. Hubertus:> Crafting policy, creating, innovating are very different activities to judging a policy or an innovation. . . brilliance cannot be forced by randomly selected committee or jury. That’s why sortition is unsuitable for the initial innovation part. . . Judging an innovation is different. Sortition is a great tool to get [. . .] judges.

    So I think we can add to Hubertus to the list (Terry, Simon, Keith) who agree [absent the word “stratified”) on the final stage and would appeal, once again, to all of us (absent Yoram) to focus on the one thing we agree on, rather than insisting on our ideal vision (demarchy, multi-level sortition etc). Better to start with something rather than ripping into each other like a bunch of ferrets in a sack.


  30. PS it would be good to know how many of the 730-odd followers of this blog think it would be a pragmatic strategy to focus on something we can all (absent Yoram) agree on.


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