Demarchy—small, sample electorates electing officials

From Cornucopia of Ideas, Social Inventions Journal for 2001, by Roger Knights, “Demarchy—small, sample electorates electing officials,” pages 237–44

[SIJ editor’s comment:] Sumarized from a longer paper by Roger Knights entitled ’Nec Pluribus Impar’ which can be read in full on the web (at www.globalideasbank.org/demarchy.html)

(Alas, it’s no longer available online because the Global Ideas Bank was hacked and destroyed. My own copy was lost due to one of Microsoft’s black screens of death.—Roger Knights)

I contend that if the power of electing officials were transferred to small, sample electorates, government would be more accountable to common sense. 

What’s wrong with current democracy is that it is too influenced by interest groups and crusading moralists. And where those two forces are in abeyance, it lacks common sense.

The theory of democracy is that the government should be accountable to the common sense of the community. Now, common sense is a quality, not a quantity; it is present to the same degree in a small sample of the electorate as it is in the whole body. This system of demarchy that I propose would make democracy more real.

How would this work?

First, the micro-electorates themselves. These would usually range in size from five to 25 members. Names would be drawn at random from a ballot box containing a 50/50 (say) mixture of lots and ballots. The purpose of the lot component and the randomized drawing is to encourage the members to be independent of the majority. [Because disapproval by the majority won’t prevent a dissenter’s name from being drawn.—RK] The purpose of the ballot component is to give the majority its due; i.e., to give it a way of [preferentially, statistically—RK] retaining and elevating the members it prefers. 

Electors would serve fairly long terms (say eight to 12 years) [too long, I now believe—RK], so that, at each election they’d be relatively experienced. The membership would turn over incrementally as the years went by; i.e., there wouldn’t be a totally new group at any point. Members would be well paid, to blunt the threat of bribery. 

Each group of electors (hereafter called a Popular Electoral College or PEC) [I now prefer “demi-electorate”—RK] would meet regularly (e.g., monthly) in the evenings or on weekends to hear reports from office-holders, and commentary on the office-holder by spokesmen for various ancillary groups. This supervision would continue during the inter-election period, thus giving Popular Electoral Colleges a strong, ongoing influence on their representatives. Each Popular Electoral College would elect its office-holder by simple majority vote, with run-off elections [or, better, ranked-choice voting—RK] being used when no candidate received a first-round majority.

Second, several kinds of ancillary groups would be associated with each PEC [mostly at higher levels of government—RK]. These would comprise a secretariat, investigators, observers, retirees, ’shadows’ [prospective candidates in the next election], editorialists, lobbyists, and petitioners. 

Third, Popular Electoral Colleges would be layered [or “nested”—RK]; each one would supply the candidate-pool from which members of a higher-level Popular Electoral College would be drawn. [I now think it would be advisable to draw some percentage directly from the BalLot pool created at lower layers, even the lowest one—i.e., by lots plus the balLots of citizens evaluating one another.—RK] I envisage four main layers: local, county, State, and national. The BalLotery selection procedure described above would be used. As part of it, each member would have multiple ballots to cast: e.g., in a seven-member Popular Electoral College, each member might have four or five ballots, of which he could cast no more than two for the same member, and none for himself.

The parameters that affect a BalLotery would be set so as to discourage people from campaigning to be an elector [or a higher-level elector—RK] (by discarding names that get too many ballots), while at the same time elevating people who receive an above-average number of ballots. Here’s what I suggest we start with: names that are drawn thrice from the BalLot box would be set aside as potential electors. As the drawing continues, any of those names that is drawn a fourth time would be discarded. [I urge others to consider this slick methodology for their systems, if they employ randomized drawings from a ballot box.—RK]

Fourth, each Popular Electoral College would specialize on a limited topical area. Where possible, Popular Electoral Colleges would draw new members from a lower-level Popular Electoral College specializing in the same [or a somewhat similar—RK] topic. Each Popular Electoral College would supervise only one office-holder, and his [or her—I envisage many housewife legislators working from home in their spare time via their computers—RK] office would be a specialized job—e.g., legislators would not belong to an all-purpose legislature. At the State level, Popular Electoral Colleges would elect each cabinet official [or “department head”—RK]. A high-level supervisory legislative committee could set or delay legislation, and would adjudicate jurisdiction when the committees under its purview came into conflict. [It would impose budget-limits on all those special-topic committees proposed spending.—RK]

Advantages

(1) The most interesting justification is rather subtle and abstract: the electors in a small electorate can behave in an active rather than a reactive manner. A good parallel for a small electorate would be an executive search team, which actively selects its choice from a multitude of hopefuls. Current mass electorates can’t select, they can only passively settle for one of two or three preprocessed alternatives.

Throughout the 19th century the widespread desire to keep office-seekers in a subordinate role vis-a-vis electors was expressed in the oft-repeated saying, “the office should seek the man, not the man the office.” This was a sound instinct. Unfortunately it remained only an instinct; analysis did not penetrate the problem and provide the solution: sample sovereignty. Hence the founding fathers left power as a temptation, and politics became the domain of these prepared to grab at power.

(2) There’d be fewer career politicians, because the specialized legislative bodies would handle small enough tasks to meet part-time, enabling mere citizens with other jobs to serve on them.

(3) A different typo of office-holder would more often be selected—one who is less adapted to the demands of partisan conflict and more suited to the demands of the actual job. (Incidentally, few women flourish under the partisan-conflict model; the current system effectively discriminates against them. Under demarchy, a much higher percentage would be elected.)

(4) Office-holders and candidates would be able to speak to their electors in a person-to-person fashion, more frankly and freely.

(5) The power of political parties would diminish, since candidates would not need a party’s nomination to be viable.

(6) Money would become a non-factor in politics. This would dramatically level the playing field.

(7) The power of special interests would diminish, because there would be no need [by politicians—RK] for their money and manpower [as campaign workers].

(8) The power of the press would diminish, because each elector would vote in only one election, so the guidance newspapers have provided the uninformed voter confronted by a multitude of contests would no longer be needed.

(9) There would be fewer electoral errors and fraud.

(10) It would be simple to hold run-off elections.

(11) Campaigns would be less irresponsible. The turn-around time to rebut baseless accusations would be mere hours or minutes.

(12) Electors would vote more thoughtfully and responsibly; i.e., with a higher chance of one’s vote being crucial, people would think hard about it.

(13) Electors would be more informed than current voters by a factor of 100 or so, for a number of reasons.

(14) Higher-level electorates would be abler (due to repeated BalLotery selections [i.e., filtering—RK]) and more experienced (due to prior service).

(15) The electorate would get a better grip on government, because every agency of government would be under constant electoral supervision. [These would be citizen advisory panels reporting to electoral panels.—RK] 

(16) The power of factions would be reduced, and the consideration given to the common good would be increased. Within a Popular Electoral College, diffuse majority interests would be able to coalesce; there’d be less of an orientation to particular goods.

(17) Specialization by topic would mean that the common sense would be more fully expressed. Under demarchy, the majority would have the opportunity to vote in detail across the entire range of issues, because they’d be able to elect cabinet officers and special-topic legislators. [IOW, the common sense would have more “agency.”—RK]

(18) A greater variety of policies would be pursued by corresponding legislative committees across the 50 US States, which is both a benefit in itself [because more innovation will occur—RK] and an opportunity to compare alternatives in practice.

(19) For all the reasons given, demarchy should provide much better performance than current democracy.

(20) For the same reason, demarchy should be more legitimate. More interestingly, legitimacy should gain because the old classical justification for democracy—that it is rule by informed public opinion in the public interest—would be reinstalled. [As opposed to modern political-science apologetics for the system that provide much less appealing justifications for it.]

Implementation—government 

Because this would be only an electoral change, reform could be phased in gradually. It might even be prudent to pause for a while with a gradual conversion. For example, only one house of a legislature might be converted, or the heads of the departmental bureaucracies might only be overseen, not elected.

Implementation—private organizations

There are many private organizations that conduct elections that would benefit from conducting demarchic practices. The office-holders they elect include student council representatives and presidents, corporate directors, labor union leaders, charitable enterprise functionaries, fraternal association officers, political-body officials, and delegates to professional organizations.

Implementation—total institutions

These are organizations that do not—and should not—elect leaders, but where there is still a need for some form of representation of the affected populations, e.g., to air grievances, make suggestions, respond to managerial trial balloons, and pass along managerial messages to the rest of the population. Such top-down organizations include religious bodies (especially hierarchical ones), armies [including navies, air forces, etc.—RK], prisons, and asylums of various sorts. Marginally, workplaces could be considered part of this category.

These organizations are non-democratic, because they need to have specially qualified officials making decisions and because it would be too disruptive to allow candidates to conduct campaigns critical of them. And yet these organizations have a desperate need for some form of bottom-up feedback and oversight. Popular Electoral Colleges could provide these benefits without any downside, because electors [I meant to say overseers—RK] would be chosen without campaigning [or mostly muted campaigning to small audiences—RK], and because the forum where they’d meet [after being chosen—RK] would be private.

It’s quite unfortunate that employees have no way to express themselves collectively when they feel misused or oppressed—as they often are—by bad policies and bad bosses; most trade unions are increasingly ineffective. [In the US, only 20% or so of the workforce is unionized.—RK] This is not a mere matter of social justice [I was being facetious—RK] —the organization’s performance and profit depend on it —i.e., they depend on the creative destruction that internal criticism provides.

Implementation—second world

Consider China. It has a big problem with numerous state enterprises that are poorly run, and another big problem with rampant corruption among its lower-level officials, often operating in conjunction with the managers of the aforesaid firms. What is needed is a gigantic overlay of democratic institutions—Popular Electoral Colleges—to supervise this multitude of managers and serve as an ear for complaints.

Consider Russia. It has problems similar to China’s, but worse, because, for example, organized crime has its tentacles everywhere. Its only hope is to spread a broad blanket of micro-democracies all across the land. Once established, those would begin to turn things around.

Implementation—third world

Experts who’ve written about this problem-area have suggested that there are several preconditions for democracy. Among these preconditions are education, wealth, a civic culture, a free and competitive press, and a common national consciousness.

In my opinion, the problem is instead with the brand of democracy we’ve exported—mass democracy. Micro-democracy (demarchy) either does not require such preconditions or can cope with their absence more easily.

Consider education. If only one percent of the population is a member of the electorate, 99 percent of the educational task would be eliminated. [I.e., they could be given years of education before assuming their positions.—RK]

Consider wealth. Running a campaign and counting ballots are expensive under current democracy; but under demarchy 99 percent of the expense would be eliminated.

Consider civic culture. In general, it boils down to a desire to play fair, which is easier to enforce in a small forum than in an entire society.

Consider a free and competitive press. This is hard to achieve and maintain—the trend in the First World is toward one-newspaper towns. But with Popular Electoral Colleges, a wide variety of information and opinion could be acquired from various sources. The secretariat would have a library (probably a mobile one), as well as a collection of videotapes and a (member-only) intranet site. Editorialists, lobbyists, shadows [pending candidates—RK], retirees, and petitioners would supply opinions.

[Conclusion]

I will conclude with a quotation from John Burnheim (Is Democracy Possible? pages 93 & 114):

“on most of the issues that affect us most of us have no strong opinions …. There cannot be anything like Rousseau’s general will … There can only be conventions to accept certain results or decision procedures for the sake of getting things done …. Let the convention for deciding what is our common will be that we will accept the decision of a group of people who are well-informed about the question, well-motivated to find as good a solution as possible, and representative of our range of interests simply because they are statistically representative of us as a group.”

Summary

To sum up:

(1) The deliberative public opinion of the community—their common sense, to use a shorthand term—should rule.

(2) Because the potential for common sense can be found in every segment of the community, it is allowable for a small segment [I meant sample—RK] of it to to replace the larger body in political functions. For example, the lottery was widely used in ancient Greece to select small political bodies.

(3) It is preferable for a small segment to replace the whole community, because only a small body can function as a political insider. Only an insider can be on top of things and be in charge. An outsider is inherently out of touch.

(4) If common sense is to be truly on top of things, it must operate through a multitude of small electorates, because a single body would be overwhelmed by the number and complexity of the political issues that must be dealt with.

(5) The natural way to organize this multitude of micro-electorates—which I call Popular Electoral Colleges—is into a pyramid structure composed of (a) horizontal layers of increasing territorial scope (e.g., town, county, State, and nation) and (b) vertical topics-of-specialization corresponding (where possible) to the specialized committees that already exist at the State and national levels (for example, for education, justice, the environment, etc.).

(6) Electors serving in a given layer should be drawn from the next lower layer; electors serving in the lowest layer should be drawn from the populace as a whole. The box from which names are drawn should contain not just lots but also ballots. Popular Electoral College members [and members of the public—RK] should evaluate one another so their votes will tend to elevate the more common-sensical of their number.

(7) Legislative offices should be rearranged so as to match up with this pyramid structure—i.e., there would be no more multi-topic, general-purpose legislatures [except for the “supervisory legislative committee” described earlier—RK], but only special-topic legislative committees, each of whose members would have a Popular Electoral College dedicated to overseeing [and electing—RK] him or her.

(8) Each executive officer at the cabinet level would be individually elected by a Popular Electoral College. This means common sense will have the chance to express itself more exactly on the make-up of the leadership team. Similarly, common sense will be able to express itself more exactly on the details of policy preferences through the election of special-topic legislators.

(9) A variety of ancillary groups would be associated with each Popular Electoral College to assist its operations clerically, to investigate on its behalf, and to supply advice.

Besides the advantages already mentioned (e.g., electoral knowledgeability and control), the benefits of this new electoral arrangement include: the selection rather than the settling-for of office-holders; the rise of a less-partisan, more common-sensical office-holder; and the decline of the following: professional politicians, political parties, interest groups and factions, the need for money for campaigns, the power of the press, electoral errors and fraud, the frequency of irresponsible charges, the frequency of irresponsible voting, and political illegitimacy.

4 Responses

  1. Having a mini-public recruit and hire an executive makes a lot of sense. But using such “demi-electorates” or popular electoral colleges to elect representatives to a deliberative body has inherent flaws. The two flaws that seem most glaring are:
    1. I am unclear exactly how recruitment would work, but any electoral scheme… even with a potentially much better informed mini-electorate… will advantage prior celebrity. Well-known celebrities with an advantage of wealth and/or media coverage will still overwhelm ordinary citizens with mere “common sense.”
    2. Your proposal seems to suggest that each demi-electorate would elect and monitor a single representative each. This will tend to generate a body in which the esteemed class or majority factions will virtually shut out all minorities. It is a majoritarian system that is anti-proportional and will end up with a VERY unrepresentative final body.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with and like much of what Knights says here against using popular vote to select public officials, and am glad to be introduced to this article.

    I have long held (in published form since 1997 and 1998) that it would be far better for randomly sampled juries (aka minipublics) to choose many or all of the public officials now chosen by popular election, and also many of those now chosen by politicians.

    I think using ballots (voting) to choose some of those on the “Popular Electoral Colleges” (as Knights proposes here) is an idea that needs to be rejected, because it is at odds with rule by the people, political equality, fairness and level playing fields. The reasons why it is at odds with these things are fairly obvious I think. Using ballots (voting) will prevent the “Colleges” from being statistically representative of the public. For example, famous people will be more likely to get votes/ballots than those who are not famous. Those who are famous are not statistically representative of the public, but rather are richer (generally a lot richer I think), more likely to be male, less likely to people of colour, and less likely to be younger citizens in say their 20s. For this reason using votes/ballots to select some of the electors in the “Colleges” is oligarchic, not democratic, not an embodiment of political equality, and not an example of fairness and level playing fields (because it skews the playing field in favour of the famous, and therefore also in favour of the rich, and so on).

    Long terms of service for electors, and the “pyramid” of electors rising up through the ranks to higher level “Colleges” also have much the same oligarchic character as using ballots (voting) to choose electors, and should be rejected for that reason.

    Randomly sampled juries (aka minipublics and micro-electorates) are in accord with political equality, informed rule by the people and level playing fields. “Colleges” chosen in part by ballot (voting) are not.

    (However, even if popular election were to be entirely replaced with selection by jury, and selection by jury were to be used to choose many of the public officials now chosen by politicians, that in my view would still not bring a political system into accord with basic principles of democracy, political equality, fairness and good public policy. Such principles in my view include further steps, including giving randomly sampled statistically representative legislative juries the final say in lawmaking.)

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  3. tbouricius [aka Terry]>”I am unclear exactly how recruitment would work, …”

    Eighteen months ago I had a 450-page draft book that went into much greater detail than this 8-page, 17-year-old essay about the mechanics of demi-ocracy. It was lost—credit going to a widely used but dangerous-in-spots software product. Later, to clarify things, I’ll mention some of its mechanics.

    I’m disconsolate about its loss, because my memory isn’t good and I know it contained worthwhile material that I’m unlikely to re-create. (FWIW, its memorable opening paragraph was: “Man has torn free, and everywhere it’s been in vain. What is to be done? Lend me your ears.”)

    tbouricius [aka Terry]>”any electoral scheme… even with a potentially much better informed mini-electorate… will advantage prior celebrity. Well-known celebrities with an advantage of wealth and/or media coverage will still overwhelm ordinary citizens with mere “common sense.”

    You’d be convinced by experience to the contrary, right? Good, because demi-ocracy would, of necessity, be phased in gradually, likely starting in many small jurisdictions, so there’d be time to observe any such untoward effects and to make revisions or deletions.

    Demi-ocracy should be phased in in several different varieties, deliberately taking an experimental approach. Further, all varieties should be authorized conditionally, so that a variety that initially looks good but goes bad after, say, five years, can be “sunsetted” without a lot of procedural fuss and feathers.

    (I may eventually write a thread elaborating on the virtues of this experimental approach, arguing that we needn’t “get it right” first, but can and should instead deliberately throw a handful of contested varieties “against the wall to see what sticks.” (I.e., what’s popular with participants, the general public, and observing academics.) That way we’d be guided by the light of experience, a surer way of proceeding than relying on our weak-reed reasoning about such an uncertain matter. “Ready, Fire, Aim”—Dive in headfirst and figure out what’s happening later—that’s the American Way!

    For instance, one contested variety would allow demi-electors to jabber among themselves, and one (which some regulars here prefer) would prohibit it, requiring them to observe the proceedings from a computer in their home or public building, but not be connected to one another via a “forum.” (Their attentiveness could be encouraged by requiring them to correctly answer a questionnaire about what was said at the most recent proceeding. Failing it, their number of votes at the next election could be diminished, or they could be dismissed.))

    It may be that “”any electoral scheme… will advantage prior celebrity.” But the key questions are:

    “How much will any particular scheme do so?”
    “Might some scheme’s degree of advantaging be acceptably trivial?”
    “Might some electoral schemes actually disadvantage such entrants?”

    Under my variety of demi-ocracy, rich celebrities wouldn’t be able to waltz in and sweep an awestruck demi-electorate off its feet, because:

    1. At the national level, all legislative candidates would be required to have served at least six (say) years as State-level legislators, or ten years as combined county- and State-level service. At the State-level, legislative candidates who had served at the county or town level would be given bonus votes (when seeking office) for having done so. (Or there might simply be a requirement for them to have done prior, lower-level service, as at the national level.)

    2. Candidates who had not served as “shadows” (registered potential future candidates who participate in most of the regular inter-election gatherings, including debating with the incumbent), or as regular Commenters or Columnists, would either be disadvantaged by having votes deducted from their totals, or by being excluded.

    3. Celebrity’s wealth wouldn’t buy them media coverage and more intensive and effective campaigning (ads, billboards, phone-banks, etc.), because my demi-ocracy would not include a (possibly fawning) media intermediary between candidates and their electorate, and because no campaign advantage would result from having money to spend on it, because “electioneering” would be prohibited. Candidates could only interact with demi-electorates through formal channels, such as being “on stage” (online or in person) and being interrogated, debated, and cross-examined, over a period of months or years prior to the election.

    4. Candidates at the State and national level (especially) would be subject to intense background checks and “opposition research,” conducted by the Secretariat’s investigatory arm in conjunction with advice and participation by the “opposition research” teams of an ancillary group called “Endorsers.” (These would be made up of the remnants of current political parties plus think tanks, political action groups, etc.) (My version of demi-ocracy includes a significant, permanent “infrastructure” of groups like these, to help make the electorate fully informed.)

    Candidates would not be allowed to conceal their tax returns, as Romney did in 2012, or their college records, as Obama did, or keep their questionable business dealings mostly out of the public eye, as Trump did in 2016. This would effectively deter dodgy wealthy celebrities.

    Celebrity candidates at those higher levels would be subjected to days of intense cross-examination “on stage,” and would likely reveal themselves to be ignorant airheads and mere sloganeers. They wouldn’t be able to make a few rousing speeches full of half-baked clichés designed to push people’s hot buttons and get away with it. They’d have to run a gauntlet.

    5. Even in our current vulnerable situation, only a very few celebrity adventurers have reached the top anywhere. (The few exceptions that one might name (Trump and a recent PM in Italy) only prove the rule.) The one wealthy celebrity outsider who even managed to win a governorship in recent times, “professional” wrestler Jesse Ventura, didn’t do much damage, on net, if any. The most recent holder of the title of “America’s Craziest Governor,” Paul LePage of Maine, is a professional politician, AFAIK. This badly weakens the claim that monied celebrities will prevail in “any electoral scheme.”

    6. Celebrities can be very popular, having millions of fans, but still not be terribly appealing to a majority of the population, especially not as candidates for office. There are usually a few counter-fans, and many who think “meh,” or who are unaware of the person’s celebrity status. And wealth is not likely to be attractive to many voters. The 1% are unpopular. Such flashy newcomers, being would-be queue-jumpers, would especially rankle many long-serving demi-electors who had worked their way up the ranks and achieved a hard-won familiarity with the issues.

    7. Under demi-ocracy, not only would the path to power be lengthy and restricted, as mentioned, but power itself would be divided and dispersed among many more positions than at present, providing a better safeguard against “adventurers” (one of the Founders’ bogeymen). Regarding power division, I found this by Googling:

    “In 1995 [recent enough for government work] House standing committees and subcommittees averaged 40 and 15 Members, respectively.” ( https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/19960201_96-109_a7caa5fd947bb48a27a8e5ab6d5937fcb671aab2.pdf )

    “The United States House of Representatives currently has 21 congressional committees: … All but three committees … are subdivided into subcommittees, of which there are a total of 95.” ( https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/19960201_96-109_a7caa5fd947bb48a27a8e5ab6d5937fcb671aab2.pdf )

    So there are ((21-3) x 40) + (95 x 15) = 2175 positions at those levels, or five specialized-topic seats for each of the 435 House members (2175 / 435), meaning the power of five seats is concentrated in one member. Under demi-ocracy, those five seats would all be separately elected positions, and new legislators would start at the subcommittee level and have to work their way to a Committee and then, for a few, to the supervisory-level committee, which would be a less-powerful version of a current full legislature. (I.e., it would have powers to delay a bill, to propose amendments, to request that new testimony be heard and other documents be consulted, etc., but it wouldn’t have the power to defeat a bill or to dead-end it by assigning it to a hostile committee.)

    So a celebrity would initially be only one of 2175 others at the national level, assuming he managed to work his way up there at all after years in a similarly insignificant post at the State level. (At a guess, there’d be about one-quarter as many topic-specialized seats at the State level, or 544—call it 550—this being the same (as the national-level) five-times-the-average-number-of-seats in a full State legislature.

    Power would be similarly divided at the executive level. The chief executive would possess only 25% of his current power, the rest being dispersed to his cabinet members (or, at the State level, department heads), who would each be individually elected and enabled to propose policy on their own, without approval by the Big Cheese. It might be that the chief executive would have to have been a cabinet member first, or that candidates who had served as one would be given extra votes if seeking a higher office. His powers would be a residual of what had been stripped away (i.e., most policy-setting and appointment-making).

    tbouricius [aka Terry]>”2. Your proposal seems to suggest that each demi-electorate would elect and monitor a single representative each. This will tend to generate a body in which the esteemed class or majority factions will virtually shut out all minorities. It is a majoritarian system that is anti-proportional and will end up with a VERY unrepresentative final body.”

    1. Well, here’s data to the contrary from “The Hill” website after the 2016 election, at https://thehill.com/homenews/house/306480-115th-congress-will-be-most-racially-diverse-in-history

    “The new Congress set to take office in January is slated to be the most racially diverse in history. Record numbers of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women of color will serve in the next legislative session. [This trend will likely continue in the 2018 mid-term election, due in two weeks.]

    “Thirty-four Hispanics will serve in the House [8% vs. 12.5% of the population], while the Senate will have four Hispanic members (4%). … The new Congress is poised to have a record number of black lawmakers, increasing from 46 to 49, [with 46 [10.5% vs. 12.3% of the population] being in the House], [and 3% in the Senate].

    “A record number of 15 Asian-Americans will be in the next Congress, up from the current 11 members. The total includes 12 House members [2% vs. 5.6% of the population] and three senators [3%].”

    So: 1) There is not remotely a “virtual shut out of all minorities”; 2) The trend is in favor of increasing minority representation, even in the year of Trump’s win; 3) Minority representation of blacks and Hispanics, the two largest minority groups, is much higher in the chamber with smaller electoral districts. (Why the reverse is true for Asian-Americans is a puzzling oddity that I suspect will eventually self-correct.)

    2. As regards class, here’s a quote from the Sunlight Foundation, at
    https://sunlightfoundation.com/2014/06/03/white-collar-government/

    “About two percent of members of the U.S. Congress came from a working-class occupation [vs. 54% of the population]. About three percent of the average state legislature and about nine percent of the average city council also come from a working-class background.”

    My interpretations are: 1) a paucity of cash keeps working-class members from conducting necessarily expensive electioneering in big districts; 2) The absence of an institutionalized career track upwards inhibits their rise; 3) The full-time requirements of current omni-legislators, which increase at each level, inhibits their rise, compared to persons in professions or in real estate, often self-employed, who can take extended leaves of absence from their work much more easily.

    Under demi-ocracy: 1) The cash required to fund a campaign would be orders of magnitude lower; 2) The existence of a vertical upwards path within each topic-specialty would promote their promotion; 3) The finer granularity of the legislator’s job (thanks to topical specialization) would make it a part-time pastime, accessible to all.

    3. Finally, to repeat myself, we don’t really know how things will play out with different varieties of sortition until they’ve been let loose in the real world; all we can do is speculate. We should rely on the results of experimentation, which are sure to be surprising (and entertaining).

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  4. tbouricius [aka Terry]>”2. Your proposal seems to suggest that each demi-electorate would elect and monitor a single representative each. This will tend to generate a body in which the esteemed class or majority factions will virtually shut out all minorities. It is a majoritarian system that is anti-proportional and will end up with a VERY unrepresentative final body.”

    I responded to the gravamen of that charge above—i.e., I don’t think that minorities will be shut out, because the House of Representatives currently contains a large and increasing number of minorities, and because specialized-topic mini-legislators would have such a cut-down job that they could do it in their spare time at home on their computers, empowering, among others, housewives, working-class members, and the unemployed.

    i now realize that you might have been implying that some form proportional representation should be used to elect mini-legislators. On the downside, that would widen and blur my intended focus of mini-electors on a single office-holder, which I think is important for getting to know his character in depth. However, even if electors had to cope with overseeing five office-holders, perhaps the blurring wouldn’t be unacceptable. We’ll learn more about this by deliberate experimentation once “the game is afoot.”

    Simon Threlkeld:>”I think using ballots (voting) … is an idea that needs to be rejected, because it is at odds with rule by the people, political equality, fairness and level playing fields…. Using ballots (voting) will prevent the “Colleges” from being statistically representative of the public. For example, famous people will be more likely to get votes/ballots than those who are not famous. Those who are famous are not statistically representative of the public, but rather are richer (generally a lot richer I think), more likely to be male, less likely to people of colour, and less likely to be younger citizens in say their 20s.”

    But if many more balLots are cast for famous people to become members of a Popular Electoral College (PEC) than for ordinary citizens, that will only mean that they likely WON’T be winners. What I wrote explains why:
    “The parameters that affect a BalLotery would be set so as to discourage people from campaigning to be an elector [or a higher-level elector—RK] (by discarding names that get too many ballots), while at the same time elevating people who receive an above-average number of ballots. Here’s what I suggest we start with: names that are drawn thrice from the BalLot box would be set aside as potential electors. As the drawing continues, any of those names that is drawn a fourth time would be discarded.”

    This would of course also penalize other excess-vote-getters, like the famous. The end-result should be close enough to a microcosm. We’ll learn if that’s so from initial experimentation. If those chosen aren’t statistically representative enough, a stratified sample could be drawn from them. Or the ratio of Lots to BalLots could be increased. Or both.

    The general public would have to approve a major move toward sortitionism by a super-majority in a referendum. It might accept pure sortitionism for an ancillary institution, but not for a replacement of an existing legislature, because that would mean it would lose its right to vote. It would have theoretical backers insisting that that right is essential to a democracy. So the populace must be allowed to ballot in any “replacement” reforms we propose, if we want them to be acceptable.

    Simon Threlkeld:>“Long terms of service for electors, and the “pyramid” of electors rising up through the ranks to higher level “Colleges” also have much the same oligarchic character as using ballots (voting) to choose electors, and should be rejected for that reason.”

    Long terms of service shouldn’t have an oligarchical effect. They would reduce the percentage of the population that gets a chance to participate, but that doesn’t create an oligarchy, since there’d be so many electors. There are, I’ve read, 350,000 elected positions in the U.S. If each has an average of eight overseeing electors, there’d be 2,800,000 electors participating.

    Also, since, as I explained above, there’d be little anti-representative effect from one level of a BalLotery (and what there was could be corrected by a subsequent stratified sampling), there’d be little anti-representative effect from additional levels of balLoting.

    Like

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