The result of such a radical constitutional change [i.e., a switch to sortition based representation] would be a complete transformation of the relationships between citizens and their representatives.
Citizens chosen for office by sortition would not be chosen for office by anything other than chance. They would therefore not “represent” a voter or a constituent in the way that persons elected to office can claim to represent others by virtue of their being chosen by the votes of citizens. Likewise, no representative chosen by lot would have a basis to exclude or ignore a certain section of the citizenry “because they’ll never vote for me.” Representatives would merely be statistically representative of the community from which they come, as they would be selected out of that community. Hence the relationship between representative and constituency would be fundamentally different under a sortition system from the current system of relations. The representative would remain an indivisible part of the whole.
Between the representative and the other citizens there would be no faithless promises to be made, no manipulative relationship to be established. Holding political office would be like performing volunteer work in the community, with nothing to be gained privately thereby. This is supposed to be the essence of civics in western liberal states, but the domination of politics by private interests has perverted it into a laughable cartoon. Nobody in western liberal states takes the ideal of “public service” seriously any longer. Politics is merely self-advancement wearing public drag.
The use of sortition would prevent the ambitious and self-seeking from gaining control over our institutions for purposes against the public interest. Nothing could be gained, and there would be no institutional framework to allow the self-seeking to take over our institutions for their own ends. Statistically, MPs would be representative of the whole society, just as a random sample used for polling purposes is judged to be today. Lawyers could go back to practicing law in the courts. Business people could go back to minding their own business.
Posted on September 12, 2010 by Yoram Gat