In May 2017, while giving a talk at TEDx, author and activist Brett Hennig asked the audience this provoking question: What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected entities? This may not be the first time such question has been asked. Even though in theory, putting random individuals in places of power promises to work out, how about practice? What justifies taking normal civilians from different walks of life and putting them into one Parliament?
DEMOCRACY AND THE ORIGIN OF SORTITION
Sortition happens to be a word that is rarely heard these days. The concept of sortition in politics is, in general, the process of selecting political officers by casting a lot of random samples from a large depot of candidates. The concept of sortition originates from ancient Greece, a city known as Athens. This mode of selection was also effective during the medieval times in Italy. Interesting that this political concept is still used by the jury. Not until recently, there has been minimal interest in reviving the practice. It is important to note that there were some attempts in the 19th century. These attempts were a group of ambitious sorting schemes aimed at establishing a worthy link between random selection and the purpose for which it will be deemed fit.
Why does this topic come up at a time like this? A lot of academic writers believe it’s as a result of the general decline of liberal-minded democracy. Now, to understand where exactly we are coming from with this, we would take a few steps back to examine the concept of democracy.
The political philosophy surrounding the definition of democracy deals with the system of government by the whole populace or representative. Every specific period of time, people were chosen through the election method to represent the interests of the general population. In the simplest terms, democracy is defined as ‘government of the people, for the people and by the people.’ Liberal democracy, therefore, has to do with a system of government that operates on the background of classical liberalism. Today, this system of government is the most predominant in the world. It’s like having different variations of a paper on https://essayvikings.com/write-my-essay – the general idea remains the same.
And based on the silence in the reply that Brett Hennig (from Ted) got from his audience when he asked if anyone felt that the system worked in their country, it is safe to assume one thing – liberal democracy is not working for us.
WHERE DID IT GO WRONG?
Remember we established that the concept of democracy as a governmental system is consider the interests of the common people. The system achieves this by choosing representatives from different parts of the population to ensure that all interests are represented. However, we know that this isn’t the case today. The original idea of democracy embeds in itself equity, fairness, justice, security, and accountability. But if we are to look at the reality of today’s politics, this ideal is non-existent, to say the least.
For starters, the representation of people’s interests is gradually distorted by self-centered political powers. The minorities are being lumped together with majorities despite the fact that they don’t all share similar interests. The government is still for the people, but only for specific ones. The political scene is in disarray.
WHERE CAN SORTITION MAKE IT RIGHT?
In Hennig’s opinion, applying sortition into today’s broken system can fix it. The foremost thing to note is that the general pool of people from whom a random sample would be picked can be ‘stratified.’ In other words, this general pool can be adapted to represent the social-economic, cultural or even geographical profile of the country that is using it. The basic idea lies in the fact that even though somebody might not make it to the parliament, they can be assured that someone of their age, gender or social-economic status is representing their interests.
Another thing sortition has the power to do is convert the randomly chosen people into critical thinkers. Hennig believes that ordinary people, when put in positions of responsibility have the tendency to act responsibly and take the necessary action. And because the decision-making process will be dependent on the wisdom of the common people, he also postulates that sortition might be the best way of proving how diversity can outdo ability.