Random Selection in Politics

Random Selection in Politics

Random Selection in Politics

Random Selection in Politics

Synopsis

How might the entire citizenry of a country make the decisions that affect them? Carson and Martin provide the first accessible and comprehensive overview of "random selection" as a possible process for transforming our modern political systems. Random selection, they show, can and has been used in community participation in short-term decision making and long-term planning. It can be a powerful tool in the development of local, federal, and international policy.

Excerpt

Government by elected representatives is taught in schools and presented in the media as the natural way of doing things. Powerfully legitimized by the ideas of mandate and merit, representatives elected under this system consider that the electorate has given them a mandate to govern, while bureaucrats consider that merit and expertise justify their role in a powerful decision-making elite. Representative government obviously is a great improvement over previous systems of rule, such as feudalism, autocracy, and dictatorship, but nevertheless it is a system of rule in which citizens have relatively little impact on a dayto-day basis.

Representative government has its limitations. It concentrates power in a parliament or congress, and the elected representatives can become vulnerable to vested interests. the voters are given responsibility only for opinion formation, not decision making, and the representatives who make the decisions have low accountability. These and other problems are inevitable in representative government because it is a system in which a small number of people -- politicians and high-level bureaucrats -- have a great deal of power that can be exercised to serve powerful interests, including their own interests.

Most people attribute problems with representative government to individual politicians and specific policies. a standard assumption is that . . .

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