Down with Elections! Part 4

DOWN WITH ELECTIONS!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

PART 4

Theoretical Considerations and Explanations

Athens

Proponents of sortition usually refer to the fact that it was used in Athens, and sometimes use the Athenian constitution as a yardstick for comparing other proposals. There is no attempt here to reproduce or imitate the Athenian democracy, which had several features which would now be considered objectionable, among which are:

  1. The exclusion of the majority of persons living under the control of the government from any say in that government. One can argue about the relative numbers of adult male citizens, adult female citizens, metics (metoikoi, foreigners living and working in Athens) children of citizens, and slaves, but clearly the adult male citizens were a small minority of those affected by the laws which they alone could vote on. Amongst adult male citizens, the Athenian constitution was eminently democratic, amongst those who were subject to its laws, it was oligarchic.
  2. The lack of separation of justice and legislature.
  3. Ostracism. It was not necessary to commit a crime to be ostracised and exiled, merely to be feared.
  4. Dokimasia. This was an examination, not to determine whether a citizen was competent, but whether he was eligible for office, and if so, whether his political views were offensive (usually meaning that he had oligarchic sympathies).
  5. Continue reading

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Down with Elections! Part 3

DOWN WITH ELECTIONS!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

PART 3

Examples of the Legislation in Action

How might all this work in practice? Let us consider some examples.

Example 1: The Passage of a Proposal by a Private Citizen

Suppose Bill Brown decides that Watchamacallit Bay is over-fished. He writes a letter to the Assembly:

Dear Sirs and Madams,

Watchamacallit Bay is hopelessly overfished, when I was a kid there was fish everywhere, now its DEAD!!! Theres no fish left!

Fishing should be banned in Watchamacallit Bay.

Yours etc, Bill Brown

He receives a reply in warm, friendly, bureaucratic style from the Proposals Committee:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Proposal to ban fishing in Watchamacallit Bay.

The Proposals Committee has received your proposal, and thanks you for it.

Proposal Number: 2050/456789 (please quote this reference in correspondence)

Status of proposal: Pending. (You will be informed of changes to the status.)

Current Regulations in force concerning this matter, or which may be affected:
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Sortition Foundation: a new campaign for government by sortition

Last week a new campaign was launched to demand government by sortition.

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Its aim is to promote sortition and build a movement demanding the replacement of elections with sortition.

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To support or promote it, visit http://www.sortitionfoundation.org/, like it on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SortitionFoundation or follow it on Twitter @SortitionNow

For more information, or to give feedback or offer to help, please use
the contact page: http://www.sortitionfoundation.org/contact

[Editor’s note: this post was modified after posting as the group changed its name]

New Democratic Seeds / Gentils Virus Manifesto

The Chouardists are at it, this time with a new site (in five languages) calling for an allotted constitutional assembly. They explain their project in six “chapters” that you can see along with a visitor count on the left margin. Here is the main page followed by the first part. They have also included what appears to be an endless number of videos of Chouard and some other resources.

It is the explicit proposal which should rally the millions of citizens whose political impotency is programmed in the constitution.

Because it is not the role of the people in power to write the rules of their own power

“We want a democratic Constitutional Assembly, therefore randomly drawn.”

By reading the 6 chapters of this website, you will understand that if you want to change anything in the mechanisms of our current society, you will have to make this message your one and only claim: from its application the rest will follow. To understand the strength of this message, please take a few minutes to read through the six chapters of the website, they are very short.
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It’s the magic of elections

Down with Elections! Part 2

DOWN WITH ELECTIONS!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

PART 2

Direct Democracy

One possible alternative to representative democracy is “direct democracy”. In this, every citizen votes on every decision. This happens in clubs and associations of course, where it works quite well. When members vote on which candidates should fill an office (Honorary President, Secretary etc), they generally know the candidates personally, and so are well able to judge their capabilities, and in any case the responsibilities and powers mandated are very limited, both in scope and in time (annual elections are the rule). Moreover, club members very often vote directly on practical issues, and these are almost always on matters well understood by the members. Further, they are free to propose amendments, and so when the matter comes to the vote, they are voting on the question which they want to decide, and not on some ambiguous question which a party in power can interpret to suit itself. They are also free to put matters on the agenda, and to call for a vote of no-confidence in office-bearers.

Direct democracy also occurs occasionally in representative democracy in the form of a referendum, where its use is often much more dubious. A lot depends on the way in which the choice is framed: a party in power may put it in such a way as to split the opposition. The matter may be technical; often the full ramifications of the choice are not made clear to the public; they cannot propose amendments, or discuss it beforehand on an equal basis, because debate is largely controlled by the media or the government. The referendum in France on the proposed European Constitution in 2007 exemplified these problems: the public was presented with a long and incomprehensible (at least to non-specialists) document whose implications were not at all clear. An irritated public voted against it (mostly in order to spite President Chirac), and in doing so pointed out another defect of referenda: the voters’ verdict is not necessarily given on the question that is officially posed.

Proponents of direct democracy would extend the principle to every decision made by the community, and some of them suggest that only measures passed unanimously should be implemented. To the obvious objection that this is impractical in a large modern state of tens or hundreds of millions, the true believers reply that the state should be abolished, to be replaced by small autonomous communities of a few thousand.
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Popular policy is an electoral liability

Keane Bhatt writes for FAIR:

According to [CNN TV anchor Wolf] Blitzer, policy proposals such as paid sick leave and maternity leave, an increased minimum wage and free community college are all liabilities to pragmatic Democrats concerned with winning elections–which explains Obama’s reticence prior to November’s midterm elections. However, public opinion polls show widespread support for those measures, including, in many cases, from Republican voters.

A CNN poll (6/9/14) found 71 percent of the public supporting an increase in the minimum wage, including a majority of Republicans and conservatives. In November, voters in the Republican-leaning states of Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Alaska passed ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage by large margins (Huffington Post, 11/4/14).
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