“Their counterintuitive conclusion is that randomly selected legislators always improves the performance of parliament and that it is possible to determine the optimal number of independents at which a parliament works best.”
From the MIT Technology Review of March 9, 2011
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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.”
From Sunday through Thursday, 8-12 April 2018, available as a FREE e-book .
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 for my work on this topic in different genres and formats.
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.
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.
Representative democracy is in crisis. Legislatures do not accurately reflect all sectors of society. Ordinary citizens should have more say than merely pulling a ballot lever once every few years. A government that is merely ‘for’ the people is not any longer good enough. It is time to institute a government that is also ‘by’ and ‘of’ the people.
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 develop a ‘legislative jury’ capable of representing all citizens without regard to party affiliation, financial status or any ideology other than fair play.
This annotated essay includes appendices with links, bibliography, how to hold a workshop and access to other goods and services.
See https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 for this essay and information on my other genres, formats and videos on this topic.
NEXT STEP FOR DEMOCRACY (a short comedic educational stage play)
Marisa, Alma, Sami, and Ali live in a city embroiled in conflict and violence — the Regime, the Opposition, the Opposition to the Opposition. When the fighting stops, they ask themselves: What next?
“Next Step for Democracy” argues for choosing legislators in the way we choose juries. And the way that the first democracy did. By random lot, known as ‘sortition.’
Please visit https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 to see my other pieces on this topic in different genres and formats.