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.

Public integrity reform Texas 2015

At present Texas vests authority for prosecuting cases of official misconduct in the district attorney of one county, now Travis County, which contains the capital city of Austin, and until recently, the additional work was funded by an appropriation by the State Legislature. This is done because the Texas Constitution vests authority for criminal prosecutions in local county and district attorneys. Neither the State Attorney General nor any state-level official has such authority.

Two controversial prosecutions by the Public Integrity Unit in predominantly Democratic Travis County were clearly political and have led to calls for reform. the first was prosecution of U.S. Rep. Tom Delay, essentially for laundering campaign contributions through the National Republic Party. He was convicted in Travis County but the verdict was reversed on appeal. However, it ended his career in the U.S. Congress.

The second case arose after the Travis County District Attorney was arrested, and later convicted, for DWI, and was video recorded acting very badly, trying to throw her weight around. Governor Rick Perry demanded she resign, or else he would veto the next appropriation for the Unit. She refused, and he did. But Travis County kept the Unit going at reduced strength using County funds. It then hired a special prosecutor who obtained an indictment against Perry for making a felonious threat to a public official in threatening to exercise his veto power. As this is being written, that case is still in the Travis County District Court.

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Constitution of Venice 1268

We have discussed the use of sortition by the Republic of Venice that evolved until it was stabilized in 1268. However, although we have commentaries on it from authors like Krag and Adams, it would be useful to have the text of their “constitution” of that time. The problem is that this consists of a number of statutti mixed with other legislation, and I have not yet found anywhere that the relevant ones have been extracted and collected into some semblance of a constitution as we tend to understand the term.

If anyone has a knowledge of 1268 legal Italian and access to the statutes, it would be a useful scholarly effort to gather the relevant ones into a single document we can put online. Anyone up to the job?

To avoid pathological outcomes

Sortition is proposed as a remedy to some pathologies in our present constitutional systems, but if not done well, it could introduce some pathologies of its own. Some of these have been discussed, but we need to focus for a moment on how it could go wrong, and what we could do to avoid that.

Sortition and pillage

Sortition is often offered as a way to avoid having those elected pillage the public fisc for their own benefit or that of their constituents, sometimes called patronage. Public choice theory examines how special interests invest more than most others to influence public decisions for their benefit, by both the selection of decisionmakers and pressure on them to favor those interests to retain office or advance in office. Once elected, officials become a special interest unto themselves, and public choice processes operate within government institutions as well as on elections.
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