DOWN WITH ELECTIONS!
Examples of the Legislation in Action
How might all this work in practice? Let us consider some examples.
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:
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:
- Government of Sortitia:
- Fisheries Act 2021/143, amended 2025/392. This is available at http://www.gov_sortitia_leg.so/xxxxxxxxx
- Region of South-West Sortitia:
- Waterways Act 2028/39. This is available at http://www.gov_sw_sortitia_reg.so/yyyy
- Current proposals on related matters:
- Proposal 2049/3132: Amendment to Fisheries Act 2021/143.
- Details of this, including hearing dates if fixed, are available at http://www.gov_sortitia_props.so/zzzz
- Proposal 2048/203: Extension of Port Facilities at Watchamacallit Bay.
- Details of this, including hearing dates if fixed, are available at http://www.gov_sortitia_props.so/pqrpq
- Proposal 2047/1923: Proposed Watchamacallit Bay International Airport.
- Details of this, including hearing dates if fixed, are available at http://www.gov_sortitia_props.so/xyzxyz
This list may not be exhaustive. You are advised to check with regional and local government authorities for regulations and by-laws which may affect or be affected by your proposal.
- Clarification required:
- Please advise if the proposal concerns all marine animal species, including teleosts, cartilaginous fish, shellfish and crustaceans.
- Please advise the exact geographical limits proposed.
- Please advise if both commercial and recreational fishing are affected, and which fishing methods are affected.
- Please advise if the proposed restriction is to be permanent, temporary, or seasonal, and the proposed time limits.
- Supporting information.
It is suggested that you send to the Proposals Committee any information or evidence which you have regarding the desirability of implementing this proposal.
Yours faithfully, etc
(Alternatively, if this is a matter for a state or regional government the Proposals Committee might refer Bill Brown to the Proposals Committee of that government.)
It may be that Bill Brown will take fright at this, and that nothing further is heard from him, in which case his proposal will languish as “pending” for ever. However, if Bill is serious, he will go away and do his homework. Perhaps there is a proposal pending or under review which includes or could include his idea, and he may choose to transfer his attention to this proposal.
If not, and he can produce evidence that his proposal is desirable and popular, (for example, studies of fish populations, simulations comparing the ecological and economic effects of his proposal with “business as usual” and a petition with a large number of signatures), and if he refines it to be more precise, then the Proposals Committee would send it to the legal draftsmen to be put in proper form.
Both the Proposals Committee and the professional draftsmen would check for incompatibility with or duplication of existing regulations or proposals at all levels of government. The first draft would be sent to Bill Brown, and published for all to see. The Proposals Committee would also forward it to the Agenda Committee with a list of any regulations or proposals which would need to be modified in order to implement Bill Brown’s proposal and a recommendation for the priority to be assigned to it.
In rare cases of urgency, the Agenda Committee might put the proposal on the agenda for immediate consideration by the Assembly. It might also send it back to the Proposals Committee for re-drafting if it judges that the proposal is not sufficiently clear or well-framed for intelligent consideration.
More often it would put on the agenda a motion to set up a Single-Issue Policy Committee (assuming that there is no existing Policy Committee whose mandate covers the issue) to study and report on the proposal within a given time. The SIPC would call for submissions from the general public, from recognised experts, and from government Ministries. After examining the submissions, the SIPC would refer it back to the Agenda Committee with its recommendations and its reasons for making them. These recommendations would include minority recommendations, and would take such forms as “in favour”, “against”, “amendment proposed” and “revision of wording necessary”. If the Agenda Committee, on the advice of the SIPC, considered amendment or re-wording to be necessary the proposal would go back to the Proposals Committee and the draftsmen. If the Agenda Committee considered the proposal sufficiently well-drafted it would then put it on the agenda to go before the Assembly, which could approve it (with or without amendments), reject it, or refer it back to the SIPC for further consideration or clarification.
If there is a unicameral Assembly, and if the proposal is passed, it now becomes law. If there is a second House or “Review Chamber” the proposal would pass to this chamber which could approve it, or return it to the first chamber for re-consideration, with proposed amendments. (The Review Chamber could not reject the proposal outright, nor refer it back more than twice.)
At all stages of this process the text of the proposal, with the various changes made or suggested would be available to the public on the government web site, and perhaps by printed media. This ensures that the actions of the Agenda Committee and the Proposals Committee would always be subject to scrutiny by the Assembly and the public.
Members of the Assembly would be free to propose a motion that a proposal be given immediate consideration, or that it be referred back to the SIPC, or if an SIPC does not exist, that one be constituted to study the proposal and report back with its recommendations.
In this example, it is likely that the proposal could be implemented by a minor change to an existing Act; perhaps by adding something like the words:
“Watchamacallit Bay east of a line from Lottery Point to Cape Kleros”
to an existing list of prohibited fishing zones. This would not alter the process of review, deliberation and voting.
It has been suggested above that “A chamber chosen by lot could also use the “wisdom of the crowd” (for instance to estimate budget allocations: the median of the members’ estimates would serve as the allocation for the following year)” In connection with this, it is worth quoting the Wikipedia article on Francis Galton:
Galton was a keen observer. In 1906, visiting a livestock fair, he stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal’s weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 participated, but not one person hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Galton stated that “the middle most estimate expresses the vox populi, every other estimate being condemned as too low or too high by a majority of the voters”, and calculated this value [in modern terminology, the median] as 1,207 pounds. To his surprise, this was within 0.8% of the weight measured by the judges. Soon afterwards, he acknowledged that the mean of the guesses, at 1,197 pounds, was even more accurate.i
Well before the budget date, the various Departments, Boards, and other administrative bodies would prepare their estimates. A month or so before the budget was due to be discussed, a printed table would be supplied to all members (and made public on the government web site). This table would list, for each body, its requested allocation, the allocation made for it and the money actually spent in the latest year for which figures are available, and a blank space for the member to insert his or her estimate of what the allocation should be for the coming year. Also printed on the same table would be the past inflation rate and estimated inflation for the coming year, and the total budget sum requested by Treasury, and Treasury’s preferred surplus or deficit.
A complementary table would show the revenue raised in preceding years from each source, and the estimated revenue for the coming year if no changes were made to the existing methods of raising income, and of course, a blank space for the member’s proposed figure.
Time would be set aside on the Agenda for the discussion of the various items, and for members to question the Oversight Committees and if necessary the heads of Ministries on their projected needs and past expenditure.
Finally, each member would submit his or her tables with the blanks filled in, and the median value for each allocation and revenue proposal would be calculated.
The following tables are examples only. (The figures in the columns “Your Estimate” represent what a hypothetical member might propose.) Obviously there would be many more items than are shown here.
In practice, both the Members and the clerks of the Assembly charged with calculating the median of each estimate would probably use spreadsheets; the paper tables, however, would be submitted as a vote, and would provide a hard copy that could be used for checking.
For each budget item the median value of the members’ proposed figures would be taken. (The median value is the “middle-most” value if there is an odd number of estimates, and the mean of the two middle-most values if there is an even number of estimates.)
It is important that it should be the median, and not the mean. If all members were sincerely trying to guess a reasonable figure, the mean might give a slightly “better” estimate, as Galton observed in the case of the ox. However, if the mean value is used, an eccentric or extremist member could disproportionately influence the final value by nominating outrageous figures.
For example, suppose that in our example 499 members make an honest attempt to choose a reasonable figure for Conservation and Defence, and that the mean of their proposals is 200 million Sortitian Dollars for Conservation, and 900 million for Defence, and that most estimates are fairly closely clustered around those two figures.
One member, a fanatical pacifist/ecologist might propose the absurd figures of 1 trillion (1 million million) for the Conservation budget, and 0 for every other budget item including Defence. The final mean budgets would be:
Conservation . . . 2 199.6 million
Defence . . . 898.2 million
The effect on Defence is slight (0.2%), but the effect on Conservation is huge, (the budget would be 11 times the mean estimate of the other members), which is clearly against the intentions of the majority of members, and consequently against the aggregate of the wishes of the public.
However, if the median figure is used, the effect of a few unreasonable estimates will be very slight. If, as is likely, the estimates (of the other 499 members) for Conservation nearest to the median are closely grouped, and look something like:
. . . 199.5, 200, 200, 200 (median), 200, 201, 201.5, 202 . . .
(ie several members are very close to, and some actually hit the median) then one absurdly high estimate will have the effect of moving the median one place to the right, in our example from 200 million to . . . 200 million.
Although in most cases the estimates will tend to be clustered about the median, even if they are not it would take quite a weird distribution of estimates for one “outlier” to have a very great effect, since in any case the median cannot move beyond the next highest estimation. Another plausible, though less likely, distribution – much less clustered about the median – might be:
. . . 180, 190, 195, 200 (median), 208, 210, 212, 215 . . .
Even in this case our fanatic would succeed only in moving the median value from 200 to 204 (half-way between 200 and 208), a change of 2%. This is hardly likely to do much damage, and we note incidentally that he could have achieved the same effect with the much more reasonable estimate of 208 million.
Fixing the budget estimates is probably the most important exercise of the legislature, for it fixes the emphasis placed on all aspects of the administration. At present with our elected governments the process is highly political, driven by ideology and interest groups. It is one area where a government chosen by lot could really shine by intelligent apportionment of resources, and by fairness in raising revenue.
Suppose a minority group wishes to impose its moral code on the public.
For instance, suppose a group of earnest vegan/animal-rights enthusiasts wishes to abolish all eating of animals, the eating of eggs, all killing of animals for meat, fur, feathers, or whatever; all keeping of animals in captivity, all experiments on animals, and of course all fishing and collection of shellfish.
It makes a proposal to this effect, and after the appropriate steps described in Example 1, the bill is presented to the Assembly, which after debate rejects it by a large majority.
The animal rights group then proposes the same measure again, without amendment, and publicly states that it will do this every day until the bill is passed.
If significant changes had been made to the bill, we might believe that the group was acting in good faith, and that the revised bill should be re-examined, meaning that it should go back to the SIPC, new submissions called for, new debates and recommendations made by the SIPC, and finally, new debate and a vote in the Assembly.
However, in this example, no significant changes have been made, so this is clearly an attempt to impose a minority view on the majority.
What should be done? It would be possible for either the Proposals Committee to refuse to forward it to the Agenda Committee or for the latter to refuse to put the bill on the agenda, for a given period or until an amended version was proposed.
A more democratic solution would be to put it on the agenda for immediate vote in the Assembly, perhaps as the first bill of the next day. Of course it would be rejected again, without delay, as no further discussion would be necessary. If other groups or individuals acted in a similar way, one might imagine dozens – or more – bills being re-proposed frivolously every day. However, this need not be a problem. If all cases were as clearly abusive, the Assembly might vote every morning to reject the whole lot en bloc in a few minutes.
Alternatively, it might pass a measure to the effect that no rejected bill might be re-presented without amendment (not just the form, but the substance) for a given period: three years, for instance. Or it might pass a measure authorising the Proposals Committee to use its judgement to eliminate such proposals.
Whatever the solution chosen, it should be the Assembly that makes the decision.
It is unlikely that very close votes will happen often. In practice, when the public and the Assembly are nearly equally divided on an issue, it is probable that an amendment or a “third way” would be found that would find favour with a greater majority.
Why is this likely? Because it would be in the interest of everyone to find such an amendment or alternative. Those in favour of the bill would have a greater chance of seeing it passed by removing unpopular elements. Those who were opposed would of course seek a more palatable alternative, and those who had such strong reservations that they were unable to decide, would surely seek to ameliorate a doubtful measure, by removing provisions which they objected to.
How might the Assembly deal with close votes if they do occur? One good way would be for the Assembly to decide that any measure passed or rejected by less than a given majority should be re-considered by the Assembly after a fixed period.
Suppose that an animal welfare group (perhaps after the previous example) puts forward a proposal to limit cruelty to animals in farms, abattoirs, and laboratories, and that this more moderate bill is approved by a majority of eight votes. The Assembly has decided that bills approved by fewer than ten votes will be automatically on the agenda for reconsideration after five years. Now suppose that when the bill comes up again, industry and farmers have learned to live with its provisions, public attitudes have changed so that more people have come to think that animal suffering should be reduced as much as possible, and the bill is passed with a reasonably large majority.
On the other hand, if, in the light of experience, the bill was found to be unsatisfactory, it could be repealed or amended until acceptable to a larger majority.
What about tied votes? The issue could be resolved by the casting vote of the Speaker, if he or she does not normally vote, as happens in elected parliaments. This is not really satisfactory: such close votes mean that about half the population – in some cases more – will be dissatisfied. It would be better for proposals which receive a majority of less than, say, 5 votes to be referred back to the Policy Committee or SIPC with suggestions for amendment, and then re-presented to the Assembly. This is equivalent to the suggestion above, with the “fixed period” reduced to zero.
In the case of bills rejected by a small majority (or indeed any majority), those in favour of them would of course be able to modify them and propose them again.
Suppose that at present, there is a subsidy for the construction of wind-powered generators, and that electricity generated by solar panels receives a guaranteed price. The (permanent) Policy Committee on Energy, taking into consideration advice from its subcommittees, submissions from experts, and its own continuous reviewing of the scientific and technical literature, decides that it would be better to abandon the construction subsidy and the fixed price altogether, and instead to subsidise all electricity on a sliding scale, based on the environmental costs of new installation, the environmental cost per unit generated, and the degree to which the supply curve of electricity generated matched the demand curve. In this scheme a particularly polluting or inefficient method of generating electricity would then have a “negative subsidy”, that is, it would be taxed.
The Policy Committee submits its proposal to the Proposals Committee, which acknowledges receipt on the government website, notifies the Agenda Committee, and refers it to the parliamentary draftsmen, to be put in proper form. After checking for incompatibility and duplication, the draft is returned to the Energy Policy Committee, and published.
Since the Energy Committee is a standing Policy Committee, there is no need to form an SIPC. The Energy Committee would call for submissions on the proposal as drafted. One might expect in this case a number of opposing submissions from makers of wind-power devices and operators of coal-fired stations, and no doubt some in favour from makers of newer forms of power generation, perhaps also some requesting higher subsidies for an initial period.
The Energy Committee and its various sub-committees would debate all this, and might amend its proposal in the light of the new submissions, in which case the bill would again go to the draftsmen, and back to the Energy Committee before going to the Agenda Committee to be submitted to the Assembly for debate and voting.
At all times the draft would be available to the public, as would the submissions and the recommendations of the Energy Committee and subcommittees.
Let us now consider how the proposed sortition-based government compares with the criteria for democracy given above.
If the Assembly is chosen fairly, at random, from the entire adult population, then in effect, the whole adult population participates when the members of the Assembly debate and vote. So “formal political equality” is achieved, at least as far as adults are concerned.
The absence of re-election removes the major source of corruption. The secrecy surrounding each member’s vote, both before and after it is cast, will make it very difficult to either bribe or threaten a member. There will be no way of knowing how many members, and which, to target in order to change a decision, and no way of knowing whether the bribes or threats had any effect. The danger of being denounced would be very high. So we can say that the requirement of “insulation” is met.
The function of the SIPCs is to permit the full range of views to be heard and discussed, to study them, and to present them to the Assembly with the recommendations of the SIPC members. This should provide very “effective hearing”.
Theoretically, at least, political equality is achieved.
But what is the likelihood of de facto inequality arising from undue influence being wielded by experts who have an axe to grind? Moreover, one cannot entirely exclude the possibility of experts who have an entirely erroneous opinion swaying the vote in the Assembly. Expert evidence has after all misled courts and led to miscarriages of justice. The safeguards against error and bias in the expert opinion are:
1. The right of any member of the public, expert or not, to make a submission to the SIPC, and thus to oppose a submission or opinion already expressed.
2. The right, or rather the duty, of members of the SIPC to call for opposing opinions.
3. The right of members of the SIPC, the Assembly, and the Review Chamber to ask for detailed, rational justification of an opinion, or to disregard any opinion they consider unbalanced or unsupported by the facts and logical argument.
It is thus very unlikely that a blatantly biased or erroneous “expert” opinion would go unchallenged by other experts. If the experts disagree, there should be a lively debate, and the Assembly and the public will be able to judge between the arguments advanced to support the opposing opinions.
(Of course, it is possible for the all the experts to agree and for all to be wrong. There is nothing sortition or any other political system can do to fix this; but then this has nothing to do with political equality.)
It is impossible under any system to give a cast-iron guarantee that there will never be tyranny.
Since we are not at present discussing tyranny imposed from the outside (for instance, by a foreign power), or despotic or oligarchic regimes, where tyranny is “built-in”, we need only consider two types of tyranny here: tyranny by minorities, and tyranny by majorities.
Majority rule, together with random selection from the whole adult population should guarantee that minorities do not tyrannise majorities. However, we should look at the possibilities for failure of the system.
The first possibility is that a lack of formal political equality could permit a minority to get its way unjustly. This possibility has in effect already been considered above in discussing political equality.
We should note a second possibility: suppose a bill is narrowly passed, say by 250 votes to 249, when in fact 50.1% (say) of the population is opposed. This is just possible, since the representation of the population by the Assembly cannot be more than a close approximation.
In Example 4 we noted that such close votes are improbable, and suggested ways of dealing with them. Assume, though, that the bill is passed by this slender majority, and that there is no automatic reconsideration. It is not hard to see that sooner or later, with the regular change in membership, an Assembly would come that opposed the measure by a slight majority and presumably would revoke or amend it. If this did not happen, it would mean that public opinion had changed, and that experience had shown that the measure was satisfactory to the majority.
A third possible form of tyranny is that members of the Assembly might be bribed or coerced. This is much less likely with sortition than with elections.
Since members cannot be re-elected, and no-one can know who will be chosen by lot in the next draw, we have eliminated the possibility of members being promised support – whether money or favourable publicity for their election campaign – and also the possible threat of withdrawal of such support.
The scope for bribing members will be much reduced from the possibilities available under electoral democracy. In the absence of clear political loyalties, it will be less obvious how members are likely to vote on a particular measure at least until they speak, and so less obvious to whom a bribe should be offered, and how many members would have to be bribed. Any member tempted to accept a bribe would know that for the bribery to be likely to succeed it would be necessary to bribe several members. Any one of these could spill the beans, so the risk of accepting a bribe would be high, and so the risk of offering one would also be high. Finally, since voting in the Assembly would be secret, there would be no way of knowing whether a bribe was effective: a corrupt member could simply pocket the bribe, and then cast his vote any way he wished.
Bribing a member to propose a measure would make no sense, since any member of the public could do that, including the person who considers offering the bribe.
Consequently, anyone wishing to influence the vote would almost certainly get more “bang for the buck” – with no risk – by mounting an advertising campaign, by making submissions to the SIPCs or by offering money to disc jockeys or other public figures to express opinions in the sense desired.
This brings us to a fourth possibility, that wealthy interests could influence public opinion, and hence the opinion of the Assembly by dishonest advertising campaigns, biased reporting in the media, and so forth.
The danger of this cannot be denied. It certainly happens at present in “representative democracy”
With sortition, it probably cannot be entirely eliminated. However, it will be mitigated by:
- The process of deliberation in the SIPCs and the Assembly, meaning the ability to express opinions, questions and answers free of the necessity to score political points against opponents, and free of the fear of political embarrassment.
- The freedom of the public, including recognised experts, to make submissions to the SIPCs.
- The fact that each SIPC will have the time and resources to examine its single issue thoroughly and to acquaint itself with the facts. The Assembly, too, although its time will be split over a large number of issues, will still have more time to honestly consider issues than elected politicians whose minds are set on re-election, and whose speeches are aimed at countering their political opponents.
- The public information services, financed by the state, but not beholden to any political party or individual, would present a more balanced coverage of news and opinion than news services run by large corporations.
This seems to concern Americans much more than other people, probably because of the use of the expression by John Calhoun, who campaigned vigorously and eloquently in the first half of the 19th century against the “tyranny” of the majority (the northern states) which sought to outlaw slavery, against the wishes of the “oppressed” minority (the southern slave-owners).
In spite of this unsavoury connection, the possibility of tyranny by the majority must be considered. It certainly happens in “representative democracy”: one has only to consider the historical treatment of homosexuals.
The measures proposed or instituted to prevent majority tyranny, such as “super-majorities”, the possibility of appeal to a Court with constitutional powers, or a Senate formed as in the US and Australia, where each state has equal number of votes, only tend to bring about a tyranny by minorities. The reader who doubts this is referred to Robert Dahlii who has examined the question in detail.
Majority tyranny could also happen with sortition. As an extreme example, with no children in the Assembly, in theory there would be nothing to stop the adults deciding (on the principle of “spare the rod, spoil the child”) that every person under 16 should receive a caning every day as a prophylactic measure. Not being present in the Assembly, children could do nothing to prevent this.
The safeguards against majority tyranny are:
- A high level of public education and public information.
- The general sense of fairness of most people.
- The consideration in each citizen’s mind that an injustice done to one minority today could be done to another tomorrow, and that everyone is a member of some minority at some time.
We must conclude that no guarantee can be given against the tyranny of the majority with sortition. Would it be less likely than at present with elected governments? There are some reasons for hope:
- Minorities would be represented in the Assembly, where they can make their views known. They may be completely excluded from an elected parliament.
- All citizens, including members of minorities would be free to make proposals on matters important to them. Even when rejected by the Assembly, such proposals would make the majority aware of the minority’s concerns, and would no doubt attract some sympathy, perhaps leading in time to a proposal that is accepted by the Assembly.
- The perverse effect of the subsidising of campaign costs by the state (which reinforces the larger parties) would be absent. (see §5 above)
- The problem of ignorance (rational or otherwise) when voting on a measure will be greatly reduced if not eliminated in the SIPCs, which will have the time to study their single issues in depth. If a proposal tends to disadvantage a minority, that minority will be able to object, and the SIPC will be able to take the objections into account.
- The need for parties disappears with sortition, so the polarisation of views, the mindless chanting of slogans, the singling-out of scapegoats, and the slurs and denigration that go with elections will be unnecessary.
- Non-partisan state-financed news services would give a more balanced and less superficial treatment of news than commercial media.
- One could expect inequalities in education to be reduced or eliminated in a true democracy.
It is true that the expression “general sense of fairness” may not inspire much confidence in those whose opinions or culture are beyond the pale of tolerance for the majority, such as (today): those who wish to practise ritual cannibalism, incest, or bestiality, or to eat pork or beef in certain countries; or (in former times): atheists, homosexuals, transsexuals, heretics, and those guilty of dancing on Sundays.
On the other hand, daily caning of children for no reason is not common, so presumably some “general sense of fairness” must exist.
In its passage from bright idea in Bill Brown’s head to becoming law, the proposal of Example 1 has been examined by the Proposals Committee, by the professional draftsmen, by the Agenda Committee, by the Single Issue Policy Committee and the experts it called, by any Ministries affected, by anyone who made a submission to the SIPC, by the Agenda Committee again, by the Assembly, and if it exists, by the Review Chamber. If amendments are proposed, it may pass by these bodies several times. It has been debated (in the sense of arguments for and against it being advanced) before the SIPC and in the Assembly and (if there is one) in the Review Chamber.
We may conclude that Fishkin’s requirement of “deliberation” has been fulfilled.
If we accept that the bodies chosen by lot, the Assembly and the SIPC, in their composition accurately represent (“stand for”) the adult population, then it is clear that they may represent (“act for”) them in making decisions. Thus when these bodies debate and vote the effect is the same as if the whole population debated and voted. To be sure, the SIPC, having fewer members, will less accurately reflect the public than the Assembly, but it is the Assembly that has the final say, not the SIPC.
It is also possible for the ordinary citizen to make a submission to the SIPC supporting, opposing, or suggesting a modification to any proposal.
Thus this requirement is met.
The decisive stage for all measures will be the vote in the Assembly. Voting here is strictly equal between members, and the members are free to vote without fear or favour. Again we invoke the principle that a sufficiently large body chosen by lot will in its composition accurately represent (in the sense “stand for”) the adult population, and that it may therefore reasonably act for it in making decisions. Consequently the choices of the citizens, all the choices, and only those choices will be taken into account.
Since all information will be publicly available, it is possible for anyone to inform himself or herself on any proposal at any time after it is made.
However, since in practice we do not have enough time to investigate every topic, and we cannot all become experts on everything, under any political system we must in effect delegate our right and our duty to inform ourselves, at least on those topics which are of lesser interest to us. This delegation is not “alienation” since we do not give up our right to inform ourselves on any matter.
The delegation is surely best made to someone whose views on the matter in question resemble ours, and the best way to achieve this, for the whole population, is by means of a random sample.
The proposed system satisfies the requirement of enlightened understanding within the limits of what is possible.
Dahl’s expression is “The demos must have the exclusive opportunity to decide how matters are to be placed on the agenda of matters that are to be decided by means of the democratic process.”iii
Since the agenda is proposed by the Agenda Committee, which is not truly representative, it might seem at first glance that this requirement is not fulfilled. However, the Assembly has the final say on agenda matters as on all others, so is quite free to modify the agenda, every day if it sees fit, though this seems highly unlikely.
Certainly, control has been delegated, and more than once: from the population to the Assembly, and from the Assembly to the Agenda committee, and to the SIPC. The second delegation is eminently revocable, as just explained. So, too, is the third. The first (and to a great extent the third) is a delegation to a group whose views are ours, and will act as we would.
Any danger to democracy would come not from placing unpopular or undesirable matters on the agenda (they would quickly be voted down), but from a refusal to put a matter on the agenda which ought reasonably to be there.
While the Agenda Committee might have reservations about, or be prejudiced against a proposal, every citizen has the right not only to make proposals, but also to campaign for them to be considered. Also, the SIPC members could be expected to push for “their” issue to be heard. The Assembly can at any time modify the agenda in order to consider proposal immediately. So it is hard to see how the Agenda Committee could delay a proposal without good reason. In any case, the Agenda Committee is replaced every six months.
The conclusion must be that this criterion is met.
All adult citizens who are able to participate are included in the draw for all bodies chosen by lot. Those chosen must formally refuse if they do not wish to serve.
This condition is met within the limits of what is possible.
|Pol. Equality: Formal||Not met||Met|
|Pol. Equality: Insulation||Ineffective||Effective|
|Pol. Equality: Effective hearing||Not met||Met|
|Non-Tyranny||Not met. Tyranny occurs, both by majority and minority||Tyranny by minority very difficult; by majority possible, but less likely than with elections|
|Deliberation||Unsatisfactory both on issues and on candidates||Unlimited except by time|
|Effective Participation||Very limited||Met|
|Voting Equality||Not met||Met|
|Enlightened Understanding||Not Met||Met|
|Control of agenda||Not met||Met|
|Inclusion||Met in the better states||Met|