We aim to redefine how governance is done, creating local, state, regional and national “citizens’ assemblies,” whether official or experimental, whose members are selected by sortition, which is a method of randomly selecting representatives by lottery, not election.
We will demonstrate that, under the right conditions, large groups of ordinary citizens can make thoughtful, informed decisions about complex problems—as well or better than legislators whose decisions are tainted by their desire to get re-elected.
Most people believe that voting is democracy and that an election is the only way to choose people for public office. But they are mistaken.
The original democracy in ancient Athens, Greece, chose only ten percent of its public officials by election, selecting the rest by sortition—randomly selecting citizens to serve as legislators, jurors, magistrates and administrators.
At first everyone laughs at the idea of randomly selecting our legislators by lottery. Yet everyone agrees that our legislators are critically compromised by their need to beg for election campaign donations.
So why the laughter?
When public officials accept donations, they make themselves vulnerable to the demands of donors. They struggle to follow their own consciences. As an influential Congressional lobbyist once quipped, most legislators “would like to do the right thing, if only they could get away with it.”