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Political Philosophy > Sortition

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message 1: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments I am interested in how a more demographically representative legislature would function. I have a website dedicated to that (commonlotproductions.net). I have written novels and screenplays about the topic (though none published).
In particular I would like to see the use of sortition (random selection of office holders) enter the wider public agenda.

The moderator, Alan E. Johnson, of this folder replied to my self-introduction in this way:
+++++++++++
In reading your comment, I thought immediately of classical Athens, in which citizens were chosen at random for political offices. In looking at your website, I see that this is, indeed, your model. I think I have also seen other arguments advocating this view, but I don't recall where. Perhaps it was on academia.edu.

We welcome people of all political views, as long as they do not promote violence. You clearly are on the nonviolent side of things, so that is not a problem. If you wish to discuss your views in this forum, perhaps you could open a separate topic (in the "Political Philosophy" folder) on "Sortition" (or other name that you think is appropriate).

Although I have not studied this precise issue in any depth, my tentative thinking is that your system would obviously bring to political power many people who have little knowledge of or experience in government. One only has to look at our current president and his supporters to see what that might look like. It seems to me that we need more, not less, knowledge and experience. Random political leadership appears to be the exact opposite of Plato's philosopher-king. Indeed, Plato evidently arrived at his formulation after experiencing the radical democracy of ancient Athens, including its execution of Socrates. See Plato's Seventh Letter 324b-326b. (In the event you are interested, I wrote my Master's Essay, long ago, on Plato's Seventh Letter, and I have posted the essay here.)

I encourage you to respond to my foregoing arguments, preferably in a separate topic entitled "Sortition" (or other descriptive name).
++++
Thank you, Alan, for your suggestion.
In short...the issue of 'expertise' is often brought up. We give, however, the power of life-and-death decisions to citizens every day ... in the jury system.
Also, most elected legislators are not expert in the great majority of what they are called on to vote on. The only thing they all have expertise on is... in getting elected.

I will soon be publishing 'On the Citizen House: A Disquisitional Fiction'.

In the meantime, the most extensive blog on this topic is to be found at: https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Jul 06, 2017 04:10PM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments I bid you welcome also; although I am not a foremost nor prominent member of this group. Just an erstwhile one.

Your publications are of course, highly impressive. Especially intriguing (to me) is the mention of screenplays. That's my preferred medium as well, so I appreciate how you must have labored--especially with cerebral topics like this as the material.

The issue of 'expertise' touched on above. Yes, it is true that in reality many jurists, many legislators, and many elected representatives (as well as executives in the private sector) are not well-equipped for their duties. And this has been a dismaying situation in many countries for many decades. There has long been a 'crisis in leadership' in the pinnacle of society which at best leads to mediocre governance and at worst, to conflagration.

But I feel your initial reply to Alan is a bit too pat in pointing this out. Too dab. Lack of competent leadership is a complicated dilemma which has perplexed the world for generations; it needs better than a cynical wink-and-nod to resolve it. Right? It's not really as simple as your answer denotes. After all--though we may like to deem them so--our executives are not utterly pure and raw simpletons.

Leaders today are at a minimum: experienced public speakers; they're often tough negotiators; they're usually familiar with legal and business vocabularies. They have people skills. They have had noteworthy careers in law, finance, and sometimes the military. They are 'managers' in one way or another, they are savvy with the ways of power. Occasionally they also promulgate some visible personal-value-system, (whatever it may be which got them elected). Some political party accordingly backed them with its will and its might.

Whereas, if you were to pick a truly random citizen off the street, (although it might make a good movie script) you might wind up with someone who doesn't know who Abraham Lincoln even was, or what our Supreme Court does, or what country we originally seceded from in 1776, or what 'writ of habeas corpus' means. They might not possess many other basic competencies we citizens have every right to expect in an American leader. They might be a criminal, a pervert, a mental case, a drug-addict, or a psychopath (or even worse: someone who wants to make changes to the system, a reformer).

I suppose what I'm pointing out is this: yes, our leaders are impoverished in many ways but that's despite our best intentions. It's not because we deliberately seek out incompetence, that these men preside over us. At least we can say that much.

I look forward to hearing more of your opinions.


message 3: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (last edited Jul 07, 2017 08:45AM) (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
Feliks wrote: "Whereas, if you were to pick a truly random citizen off the street, (although it might make a good movie script) you might wind up with someone who doesn't know who Abraham Lincoln even was, or what our Supreme Court does, or what country we originally seceded from in 1776, or what 'writ of habeas corpus' means."

We had a real-life demonstration of this on July 4, 2017, when NPR did its annual reading of the Declaration of Independence over the air. Many Trump supporters did not recognize it and slammed NPR for airing anti-Trump propaganda. For details, see this article.

Socrates is reputed to have said, "I hold there is no sin but ignorance" (quoting from memory, which may be inexact). Many polls have shown that a surprising percentage of Americans don't even know what country we declared our independence from in 1776. Polls also show similar ignorance regarding many other elementary facts and concepts of American government and history.

As a retired lawyer who was involved with civil litigation for over thirty years, I can state unequivocally that jurors only decide questions of fact, not of law. Judges instruct jurors of the legal parameters within which they are to make their decisions as to facts. It has been thought for many centuries in Great Britain and the United States that jurors can assess the truth or falsity of witness testimony regarding facts, because such facts normally involve occurrences within the purview of the experience of ordinary people. Not so, the law, which requires a more intellectual endeavor by persons trained, formally or informally, in the law. Thus, a large percentage of delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention were lawyers or persons who, like James Madison, had studied legal and constitutional issues, as well as history, in depth. The framers of the Constitution knew what they were talking about, even when they vehemently disagreed with each other regarding constitutional issues at and after the Convention.

People running for political office may or may not know anything about government at the time they run. If, however, they win, they usually learn by interaction with people who do. The problem is when someone with absolutely no knowledge, experience, or even intellectual curiosity becomes president of the country or governor of a state. We are seeing before our very eyes what happens when a president doesn't even know what he doesn't know. It will be an interesting experiment to see whether we survive this experience.

Additionally, if everyone were elected to legislative and administrative positions by lot, they would have no reservoir of knowledge and experience based on interaction with those that do. It would be the blind leading the blind.


message 4: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Yep. And one of the reasons why incumbents often remain in power is because their constituents know that these tenured pols are 'in' with the machine; they 'know the ropes'. Other pols owe them favors. They have 'back room' power built up over decades. They know how to get a bill passed. They can get jobs into the neighbourhood or a highway extension inserted into the blueprints. Of course, it's a given that these ole fat cats are probably double-dipping their fists in the pork-barrel; but citizens are usually willing to overlook this in light of all the perks he can wrangle. The image of Tip O'Neill is in my mind right now as I type this.


message 5: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Feliks wrote: "I bid you welcome also; although I am not a foremost nor prominent member of this group. Just an erstwhile one.

Your publications are of course, highly impressive. Especially intriguing (to me) i..."


Feliks wrote: "I bid you welcome also; although I am not a foremost nor prominent member of this group. Just an erstwhile one.

Your publications are of course, highly impressive. Especially intriguing (to me) i..."


DEAR Feliks, Thank you for your thoughtful reply. In the main I agree with you.

Take note that my interest in the use of sortition does not apply to the executive (nor, of course, to the judiciary).

I agree that many politicians are in it for the best of reasons.

But there is good reason that favoring 'the best' is not the best course in all situations. Consider "The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Suroweki. And the work of James Fishkin at Stanford's Institute of Deliberative Democracy (as well as his books).

I would require a minimum level of understanding for a citizen to be included in the lottery for legislature. I would propose using the Naturalization Test. In order to avoid criticism (just ones) about literacy testing, I would have a check on the test to make sure that ability to meet the standard (basic understanding of our governmental system) would result in a test no more difficult than that required for obtaining a driver's license.

Best wishes


message 6: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Feliks wrote: "Yep. And one of the reasons why incumbents often remain in power is because their constituents know that these tenured pols are 'in' with the machine; they 'know the ropes'. Other pols owe them fav..."

I just now read your second comment. Ha, you are more cynical about politicians than I am.

I think there is a place, of course, for expertise. A 'citizen legislature' would have access to all the professional (and amateur) advice that current legislatures have.

Also ... it very well might be -- is probable, I think -- that the lower house would be sortitionally chosen. With the upper house, the Senate, remaining elected (maybe with only veto power over bills generated from the more demographically-representative 'citizen house'.

I have two screenplays completed on this topic. One about how the Citizen House gets started, in magical-realist (art house) format. One about the first year, a political action-drama (mainstream).


message 7: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Description of "On the Citizen House: A Disquisitive Fiction" by David Grant

On the Citizen House: A Disquisitive Fiction is a novella of ideas in the form of socratic dialogue wrapped up in a road trip. Formatted as a proto-screenplay, description is sparse, characterization thin. Dialogue and visuals dominate.

The Citizen House is the world’s first national legislature chosen as the original Athenian democrats did -- by sortition (by random selection). Two representatives face the challenges of advocating for their disparate views in a legislature demographically more reflective of the entire population than any other.

Amazon e-book: http://tinyurl.com/yao8lckx
or
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073TJLY9F/...

68 pages, single spaced. 22,800 words.


message 8: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
David wrote: "Description of "On the Citizen House: A Disquisitive Fiction" by David Grant

On the Citizen House: A Disquisitive Fiction is a novella of ideas in the form of socratic dialogue wrapped up in a roa..."


David,

I have downloaded your publication on my Kindle and will read it after I finish my current book project on the electoral college.

Alan


message 9: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Alan, I look forward to your response to this novella.
I should warn you, however, that "On the Citizen House" is written as the third part of series of screenplays. I believe the fictional storyline might be more attractive to a general audience.

My essay "Why Elections Are the Problem and How to Make Democracy Real" speaks more directly to the issue. See https://www.academia.edu/8332694/Why_...

I am glad to know of your experience as a lawyer. It may be germane to point out that the Swiss legislature -- reputedly more democratic than most -- has only 6% of its representatives as lawyers.

P.S. Is there a way to be automatically notified of responses only to the *topic*? And not to the group?


message 10: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
David wrote: "P.S. Is there a way to be automatically notified of responses only to the *topic*? And not to the group?"

Go to the group home page. After the preliminary information on that page, click Edit Membership. At the bottom of that page, click edit group discussion updates. On that page, you can click "none" for all group topics of which you do not wish to be notified.

I will address the other points of your post later today.


message 11: by J (new)

J L | 7 comments I must strongly disagree with the idea of randomly putting citizens into office.

Here is my perspective as a black biracial man.

I do not think that pointing to juries as an example of sortition working is a positive one. African Americans are statistically more likely to be given extremely harsher sentences for the same crimes committed by white Americans from juries. Why is that? Racism?Subconscious prejudice? Stereotypes? Regardless of why it is an issue that destroys African American lives unfairly on a daily basis. As an example from personal experience, when I was summoned to jury duty, I was waiting outside our groups selected court room and I overheard a conversation between two white gentlemen. Where one guy was saying that "these gangbangers are always getting off, lying to the judge about how they been trying to turn their lives around, saying they're going to go back to school or that they been putting in job applications, that craps not going to work on me." Keep in mind he is saying this in tone that is slightly mocking what he apparently thinks black gangsters should sound like. The case we were called into ended up being a minor property dispute between a black couple (renters) and an Asian female (landlord).

My point is I wouldn't want someone like that in charge of a black community. Someone who was not elected by the community and is more then likely going to work against said community based on their prejudiced beliefs or hatreds.


message 12: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (last edited Jul 12, 2017 06:23PM) (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
David wrote (post 9): "My essay "Why Elections Are the Problem and How to Make Democracy Real" speaks more directly to the issue. See https://www.academia.edu/8332694/Why_..."

I have now read your essay. As a retired lawyer whose practice consisted largely of representing local governments, officials, and officers in lawsuits against them based on the U.S. Constitution and/or other public law, I am aware that the kind of change you advocate would require massive constitutional and legal transformations on the federal, state, and local levels of American government.

On the federal level, all such changes would have to be accomplished through Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which reads as follows:

"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided . . . that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate."

I don't see such a constitutional amendment occurring anytime in the foreseeable future.

Attempting to implement such changes in state government would require similar changes to state constitutions. And local governments are constituted by way of state constitutional provisions, state statutes, and/or home rule charters. These legal frameworks would have to be radically changed pursuant to state constitutions and laws, which again is not going to happen anytime in the foreseeable future.

So, before we even address the merits of your proposal, there are immense constitutional and legal structures that would have to be fundamentally revised.

As to the merits, I agree with J. in his preceding comment that things are bad enough for minorities without putting political power into the hands of random individuals. Let's go back to your model, ancient Athens. The Athenian democracy was infamous for two major disasters: (1) the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE), which was caused by the imperialistic hubris of the Athenian demos (ordinary people), and (2) the execution of Socrates (399 BCE), brought about by a huge Athenian jury, chosen by lot and without the benefit of professional lawyers and judges. Socrates was found guilty of not believing in the gods in which the polis (city-state) believed and of (intellectually) corrupting the young. The prosecution of Socrates was spearheaded by democratic rabble-rousers who had no idea who Socrates was or, indeed, what they were even talking about. They managed to persuade a majority of the jury to convict Socrates of these offenses and sentence him to death. For details, see Plato (who was present), Apology of Socrates. James Madison and other U.S. founders were quite aware of the defects of Athenian direct democracy (Madison, in particular, had studied all the available books on ancient and modern confederacies), and they carefully crafted (with some errors, to be sure) a constitutional system designed to avoid such democratic excesses. See The Federalist by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison For all its faults, the U.S. constitutional system of separation of powers and checks and balances has survived, with some important amendments, since 1789.

To attempt to fundamentally change American federal, state, and local governments pursuant to the sortition principle would be to take a gigantic step into the unknown. The possible unintended consequences of such a constitutional revolution, which you acknowledge, bring to mind Hamlet's famous soliloquy in which he remarks on "The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn / No traveller returns—puzzles the will, / And makes us rather bear those ills we have / Than fly to others that we know not of." Or, as Jefferson put it in the Declaration of Independence, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." I am not arguing against change: indeed, I will publish sometime this year a book in which I will argue that the electoral college embodied in the Constitution of 1787 should be abolished by Article V constitutional amendment procedures and replaced by the direct, popular election of the president and vice president. It is quite unlikely, however, that even such a relatively modest change, already supported by a large proportion of the populace, will be approved by Article V procedures. A fortiori, a proposed constitutional amendment to deprive the people of their constitutional right of franchise would be such a radical change that it would never survive the constitutional amendment process.

That said, it is probably a good thing that you and others have offered this alternative approach to government. It is always helpful, at least for us theoreticians, to consider and evaluate alternative forms of government.


message 13: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Superbly considered and summarized.

Aye, the bottom line is that random selection would be a highly divisive, controversial idea. But the reality in contemporary US government is that even an idea which seems wholly rationale and wise to almost everyone, rarely stands a chance of getting made into a law without a party tussle. Every proposal is bargained over and used as a 'lever' for the bigger prize of: dominance. The spirit of cooperation on even the most mild or harmless venture, is no longer an assumption when politics get this vicious.


message 14: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Dear Feliks, Alan and J,
Deep thanks to you all for your serious, considered opinions.

To J: Minorities of all types would have greater representation through sortition. Women, for instance, would make up 50+% of the legislature. As it is, election campaigning only assures one particular psychological type (the type with the skill to be elected).
Regarding minority rights .... democracy's challenge has always been (and, as far as I can determine, will alway be) the danger of 'tyranny of the majority'. The courts are the defense ... but at bottom the courts are only as powerful as societal opinion allows them to be.

To Alan & Feliks: Yes, of course this is a major change. But it is already being enacted in increasingly substantive ways in several countries.
It probably will take decades to get to full implementation.
My purpose is to place the idea on the mainstream agenda for the sake of engendering discussion about what 'representation' actually means.

The WordPress blog "Equality-by-Lot" has been delving into this topic for several years.

Best wishes.


message 15: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
David wrote: "Dear Feliks, Alan and J,
Deep thanks to you all for your serious, considered opinions."


Sortition is an interesting approach that merits consideration, whether one agrees with it or not. Thank you for calling it to our attention.


message 16: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Alan wrote: "David wrote: "Dear Feliks, Alan and J,
Deep thanks to you all for your serious, considered opinions."

Sortition is an interesting approach that merits consideration, whether one agrees with it or..."


Glad to see this discussion group. Thanks, Alan, for such conscious and acute hosting.

I just found this excellent article in a mainstream publication, Current Affairs. I particularly like the humorous approach. Take note of the 'Pros and Cons' of a sortitionally chosen legislature.
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/0...


message 17: by J (new)

J L | 7 comments David wrote: "Dear Feliks, Alan and J,
Deep thanks to you all for your serious, considered opinions.

To J: Minorities of all types would have greater representation through sortition. Women, for instance, wou..."


David, I find it a fun and challenging joy to roll the ball of ideas back and forth with others.

To your point about minorities having more representation, I respectfully disagree..

To the point of women, well women aren't a minority as they are 50 percent of the population. Is it possible that some women cannot attain office due to sexism? I am sure this is the case sometimes. However, I think a another factor is many women, aren't interested in politics enough to run for office. One factor I want in a politician is motivation. I think you're unlikely to get that from someone who is drafted, woman or man.

To the point of minorities being represented more, that's not a guarantee. I point to dice games. When you roll the dice in Dungeons and Dragons for example, you can roll a whole cup full of dice hoping one specific number comes up, then it doesn't. You look at the 30 dice spread all over the table and think "Really? Not a single dice has the number I need to win!?"

So what happens when probability kicks in and people who are aggressively bigoted control the vote of a community they despise? They could potentially destroy a community in a number of ways that may take decades to repair assuming the damage could be repaired at all.


message 18: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (last edited Jul 19, 2017 01:13PM) (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
J''s preceding post discusses the question of motivation, which I think has relevance here. Motivation is sometimes related to competence. There are some, perhaps many, political figures who are primarily motivated by what they think is good policy and who are, in addition, intelligent and knowledgeable. Yes, they are ambitious, and yes, given the political environment that exists (and probably always will exist), they sometimes, if not often, have to bow to political realities. They may, properly or not, have to compromise on means in order to achieve what they believe to be an end that is consistent with the common good. One thinks of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, FDR, Churchill, JFK, and (dare I say?) Obama, though there are probably many others, both on the Left and Right. The problem with these admirable few is that they don't have perfect knowledge. Accordingly, the policies they support can have unintended consequences. It is a problem known to both Plato and Confucius, among others. But people of this caliber have a better chance of being elected in even the present political situation than if it were all by chance.

I also addressed these themes in my 1971 Master's Essay, "The Teaching of Plato's Seventh Letter."

Although I don't agree with Max Weber on everything, I have always thought that his essay "Politics as a Vocation" expressed this theme well. See posts 2 (me), 6 (Randal), and 8 (me) in the Ethics and Politics topic. Weber may have valued commitment and responsibility above knowledge, though his dedication to responsibility probably implies a dedication to knowledge. On the other hand, it's my understanding that Weber distinguished between facts and values and held that values are merely personal preferences that cannot be established by evidence and reasoning. If true, this would seem to open the door to existentialist "commitment" to anything—even Nazism as in the case of Heidegger—as the supreme desideratum of human life. I remember well the mantra of "commitment" (in this sense) frequently invoked by my contemporaries during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

When Socrates said that "virtue is knowledge," he may have been on to something.


message 19: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments This 'sortition' thing --save for the randomness--sounds a little bit like the concept of 'mandatory military service'. What if you you're picked at random but don't want to participate?


message 20: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Another government initiative I read about recently seems fascinating (in retrospect, because this was a debate in the 1700s in Ireland).

Namely that a State wishing to seize control of and/or revitalize its economy ~could~ conceivably convert all circulating money to scrip. That is, money which will lose value after a brief period of time. It has to be used for purchases in the immediate short-term, or it becomes worthless. This measure was thought up by someone as a means of preventing hoarding of money. I know its not related to sortition but they have the same kind of 'audacity'.


message 21: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Hi, Feliks,
I wouldn't make service mandatory.
See my long essay, "Why Elections Are the Problem and How to Make Democracy Real": http://thecommonlot.com/node/64

Sortition is being used more often. For example in Ireland, Australia, Canada, Iceland and others...


message 22: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments We've discovered this week that US Senators come mostly from previous office, business, or law and that US representatives come from a fairly wide variety of previous careers.

So maybe all you would need to do to create 'sortition' in the U.S. is to somehow create a mandate forbidding previous office for Senators?


message 23: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Democracy needs us. All of us.

With the 4th of March almost upon us, the time approaches to MARCH FORTH!

At the stroke of the planet’s first moment of March 4th

00:00:01 at the international date line
[12:00:01, March 3rd, Universal Coordinated Time]
[7:00:01 PM, March 3rd, Eastern Standard North American Time]

I will be Flooding The Zone!

by publishing

four screenplays
a discursive novella
one short stage play
a full-length novel
and a long essay

all considering

what a legislature might be like if it included the voices of everyone.

++++++++

Once published, please consult my Author’s Page for descriptions of each

Happy marching!

David Grant


message 24: by Feliks (last edited Mar 02, 2018 09:21PM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Impressive ambition and enthusiasm. Novels, novellas, essays. Fine. But you wrote four separate screenplays on this theme? For today's market? I guess you're looking to sell them in some other country than the US. Did your agent approve this strategy? Question, why four? Are they in four different genres, or all the same genre but four different scenarios?


message 25: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments The genres run from wild magical realism to sober political analysis.

Please visit my Author’s Page (https://amazon.com/author/grantd) to choose your preferred genre and format.


message 26: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Those are handsome book covers and a fine-looking author page. Good luck to you.


message 27: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Feliks wrote: "Those are handsome book covers and a fine-looking author page. Good luck to you."
Thank you, Feliks.


message 28: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments THE FIGHT FOR RANDOM screenplay

Ethnically shape-shifting Stride and his ragtag bunch of Peace Parasites nonviolently fight against the moneyed powers-that-be to make democracy real.
It takes a solar-powered blimp, time travel, levitation, a soulful blues band on a river barge, and a passel of bicycling tax collectors to drum up a projected future government that really is – despite the sometimes scatological and often magical-realist hocus-pocus -- a viable next step towards a democracy that is… Of, By and For… The People.
+++++
"The government ought to possess …, the mind or sense of the people at large. The legislature ought to be the most exact transcript of the whole society." -- James Wilson, signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution


message 29: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Ethically shape-shifting? Or ethnically shape-shifting? Great phrases, either way. Though the latter sounds like it might be a ways of unfairly gaining some white privilege

:D


message 30: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments EthNically, yes. Also 'genderly'. Also 'chronologically'.
Stride switches around every which way ... randomly!


message 31: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments RANDOM TAKES OFF screenplay

What if we selected legislative representatives the way we choose juries?
In this screenplay two ‘ordinary citizens’ enter the first randomly chosen Citizen Legislature. They face bribery attempts. A smear campaign. High-tech fright machines. An outright coup.
This comedic political action drama poses the question “How can we make democracy real?”
See my Author’s Page (https://amazon.com/author/grantd) for all my work on this topic in different genres and formats.


message 32: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments DEMOCRACY AT RANDOM (road trip screenplay)
Two citizens are chosen as representatives to the first randomly-selected legislature. One is angry, black, male, privileged and crippled. The other is naïve, white, poor, female and lively.

This odd couple embarks on a nationwide barnstorm to advocate for two wildly different agendas: income redistribution and consumer-driven eugenics.

Can they meet the challenges posed by ruthless adversaries? Can they overcome their personal shortcomings?

Once having made that Next Step for Democracy, can The People maintain it?

See https://preview.tinyurl.com/yb9xpa4s


message 33: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments It all sounds much better than I expected to hear. I like the cleverness and the enthusiasm and the rich detail. But unfortunately the problem for all of us is that these kinds of scripts are just about the last possible type that is currently selling on the West Coast. Producers would rather slit their own throats than take a gamble on these audacious ideas.


message 34: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Thanks for your 'reality check', Feliks.
I've been chewing around the edges of filmmaking for long enough to agree with you. Which is why, in fact, I am paying more attention to Goodreads than to film production companies. At least for the moment.
I've been advised that the New York independent filmmaking scene might be more likely. It's been awhile since I've been up there.
++++
By the way, I just read in GoodReads advice about promotion that these group discussions are not the place to promote one's books. I was going to post here separate, spaced out descriptions of the other five books.
Unless I hear from you or others that I shouldn't, I'll go ahead ... considering it all up for discussion. [I do not read the advice in the dropdown 'Group Rules']


message 35: by Feliks (last edited Mar 25, 2018 01:38PM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments You don't read Alan's posting rules? That's a bit unwary. Whew.
I believe book promo only is allowed in the 'Announcements' section.

Indeed, this is one of the worst eras for outsiders to get film projects funded. The market is extremely restrictive. The fiction market yes, can be better.

Here's two articles on that:
https://tinyurl.com/yb2yksvq
https://www.thecreativepenn.com/self-...

Book promo on Goodreads --actually, in my experience, yes--sales can be boosted in the Groups section. I moderate groups and have seen it happen.


message 36: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (last edited Mar 25, 2018 01:41PM) (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
David,

Since what you intend to post appears to be directly relevant to this topic, it is OK. I have more of a problem when people want to post stuff that is not relevant to the topic at hand or to the subject matter of this group.

Alan E. Johnson
Founding Moderator


message 37: by Alan, Founding Moderator; Author (last edited Mar 25, 2018 02:02PM) (new)

Alan Johnson (AlanEJohnson) | 2266 comments Mod
Addendum to my preceding post:

Do, however, read the group rules, fully posted on the home page of the group as supplemented by the In General topic. I have not noticed that you have violated any of these rules to date. Whether or not one agrees with your views on sortition, they are certainly within the purview of the "Sortition" topic and the subject matter of this "Political Philosophy and Ethics" group.


message 38: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Alan wrote: "Addendum to my preceding post:

Do, however, read the group rules, fully posted on the home page of the group as supplemented by the In General topic. I have not noticed that you have violated a..."


Thank you for your clarifying response, Alan. I do intend that my brief descriptions of my books (as well as referencing other sources) are within the purview of discussion about sortition.

Best wishes.


message 39: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Feliks wrote: "You don't read Alan's posting rules? That's a bit unwary. Whew.

I DID read Alan's posting rules, Feliks. I just meant by "I do not read the advice in the dropdown Group Rules" ... that by my reading of those rules, I did not interpret that my brief book descriptions were in violation.
Thankfully confirmed by Alan.

THANKS for the two articles. I just read them both. Very informative.



message 40: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments NEXT STEP FOR DEMOCRACY is a short comedic educational stage play.

Marisa, Alma, Sami, and Ali live in a city embroiled in conflict and violence – by the Regime, by the Opposition, by the Opposition to the Opposition. When the fighting stops, they ask themselves: What next? A couple of comic walk-on stagehands serve as reality checks.

This half-hour play is well-suited to educational fora, from high school through adult. Even as simply a staged reading, it lends itself to conversations delving deeply into just what democracy is supposed to be about.

See my Author’s Page at https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 for my other genres and formats on this topic


message 41: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments WHY ELECTIONS ARE THE PROBLEM AND HOW TO MAKE DEMOCRACY REAL (annotated essay)

Legislatures do not accurately reflect all sectors of society.
The original Athenian democracy used a method altogether different than elections to select its officials. They used the system now used to select citizens for jury duty -- sortition.

This essay reflects upon how the lessons from that first democracy might be used to represent all citizens without regard to party affiliation, financial status or any ideology other than fair play.

See https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 for my other genres and formats on this topic. There are also videos there, from one- to eighty-minutes long.


message 42: by Feliks (last edited Mar 29, 2018 04:41PM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Observation: the Roman Senate didn't use sortition; and Roman civilization lasted nearly two thousand years. And ancient Athens of course, was not a perfectly-fair and egalitarian democracy even despite any use of sortion.

Just musing aloud..


message 43: by Feliks (last edited Mar 29, 2018 05:01PM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments There's no other active threads at the moment so I'll muse on this a little further.

RIght now, pretty much everyone tries to evade jury duty. Even if its just one day of it--much less two weeks--or three months--'no one wants to get involved' any more.

So, asking someone to serve as a legislator? Taking on an astronomical increase in responsibility like that? Can you imagine people being any more eager for this than they are for jury service?

Half the country doesn't even go to the polls on Election Day. We're a country embarrassed by massive lack of participation.

Next. Serving as a member of congress is not just a matter of standing up in the Capitol rotunda when your name is called and caroling 'yes' or 'no'.

Legislators grow into their job. They gain much-needed experience over time; they do research on special topics as they serve on committees and subcommittees. It takes years to gain the ability to "get things done"; and that ability is one which relies on negotiating and bargaining with other members of Congress.

How would complete amateurs master these skills in a short amount of time? All their efforts would be undermined by the learning curve.

What staff support would these newbies receive? What staffers would join an office where they would receive no long-lasting stewardship? Careers are 'shepherded along' in Washington. Relationships are nurtured. Dealmakers learn to trust one another in order to make the deals which result in legislation.

Like it or not, these are skills.

Finally: why should citizens vote for representatives under this system? Why should they have trust or faith in them? If leaders are selected by algorithm, representative democracy takes a big hit.

Similarly, if you place a complete amateur in office and warn him his tenure is up in two years ('no matter what') what prevents him from simply lining his pockets?

I think these are fairly reasonable concerns.


message 44: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments THE COMMON LOT: A NOVEL

The first randomly-selected representatives of the Citizen House convenes. But just because it is proportionally representative of all willing and able citizens does not mean that these new representatives are well-suited.

The only reason that Cathy Gresham has accepted her selection is because her politically engaged aunt pushed her into it. If it were up to Cathy she’d be spending all her time at home in her garden.

On the other end of the apolitical spectrum is Turk. Just having been released from a mental institution, he’s a wild card worst case scenario. The only way he survives as a legislator is thanks to McKnight, a former newspaper vendor and smart old guy originally from Flatbush.

Whether Cathy and Turk are up to the task is the question. Can people like them successfully legislate?

Former power players with private militias hook up with strange bedfellow religionists in an attempt to scuttle this new Citizen House. It looks likely that whatever victory the newly minted representatives might achieve will only be pyrrhic.

Whatever the outcome, this legislature of everyday citizenry no longer has anyone but itself to blame.

Available via my Author’s Page: https://amazon.com/author/grantd.


message 45: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Feliks wrote: "There's no other active threads at the moment so I'll muse on this a little further.

RIght now, pretty much everyone tries to evade jury duty. Even if its just one day of it--much less two weeks--..."


All of your concerns, Feliks, are reasonable and important. I address them all in my publications. I reply here in brief.

Agreed, Athens was not perfect. And today's conditions are very different. But as a shibboleth, a possibility, another way, and as Aristotle's definition of democracy and of oligarchy ...

A legislative jury empaneled for three years ... paid at 90% of household mean ... seen as patriotic service (more salient to a democracy than armed service) ... open to anyone who is willing (who wants to be there) and is able (passes the citizenship test, same as Naturalization) ... not a bad gig.

And without political patronage. But as statistically representative as possible (short of dragooning absolutely everyone into the lot).

With twice as much time on their hands to study and deliberate (since they won't be spending half their time raising funds as the current elected bunch does).

See "The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki or "When the People Speak" by James Fishkin for empirical support for the ability of everyday citizens to make good policy.


message 46: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments And, Feliks, if you are more inclined to academic research, see https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/resea...
as well as the WordPress blog, Equality-by-Lot.


message 47: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) | 823 comments Well...I applaud any man who has a vision for change. That's all I can say. Only determined ideas carry the day!

:p


message 48: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments Thanks for encouragement, Feliks. I see this as a trajectory that will take decades to fully realize itself.
And in the meantime ...
I am offering the e-book of my "The Fight for Random" for free through Wednesday, April 4th.
https://www.amazon.com/Fight-Random-C...


message 49: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments RANDOM TAKES BALTIMORE imagines a political option for the not-too-distant future.

Hoping to be a forerunner in assuring that its city council be as statistically representative of the population as possible, the city of Baltimore chooses its city council by random selection.

The fifteen new council members -- untested ‘ordinary citizens’ -- must struggle to maintain this Peoples Platform against an uprising from the former powers-that-be. The council faces bribery attempts, a smear campaign and eventually a full-blown attempt to cut the city off from the rest of the state.

“Random Takes Baltimore” is a municipal version of my “Random Takes Off” (which considers using sortition on a national level).  Although spiced by elements of absurdist satire and purposefully stretched to the limits of plausibility, the fact is that the use of sortition is more likely to spread in a piecemeal and local progression as provoked in “Random Takes Baltimore”  

See https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 for my publications about sortition in several different genres and formats.


message 50: by David (new)

David Grant (Sortitionist) | 28 comments FREE as e-book from 12-16 April, Thursday through Monday

RANDOM TAKES BALTIMORE

Hoping to be a forerunner of the Next Step For Democracy, Baltimore chooses its city council by random selection. The fifteen new council members must struggle to maintain this Peoples Platform against an uprising from the former powers-that-be.

This is a municipal version of my “Random Takes Off” screenplay.

See https://buff.ly/2GHCSo8 for all my work on this topic in different genres and formats."


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