“It is accepted as democratic when public offices are allocated by lot, and as oligarchic when they are filled by election.” – Aristotle (Politics IV. 9, 1294b8)
I was in the process of cobbling together a piece on sortition (the selection of government officials by lottery) but it turns out that Alexander Guerrero – an assistant professor of philosophy, medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania – has beaten me to the punch, and then some! He has written a superb essay about the subject and has also come up with an alternative system which he has dubbed “the lottocracy”, an idea which is challenging, thought-provoking, and incredibly hopeful…
So what’s wrong with the system of representation which we currently employ?
“In the presence of widespread citizen ignorance and the absence of meaningful accountability, powerful interests will effectively capture representatives, ensuring that the only viable candidates — the only people who can get and stay in political power — are those who will act in ways that are congenial to the interests of the powerful.”
What is the historical precedent for sortition?