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🗳️ You are not competent to vote
Nor am I, nor is anyone else. That's a problem for electoral democracy.
Adam flatters his readership by lashing out at candidates. He describes political candidacy as incentivising those who exhibit the
dark triad of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.
I go one step further and say that YOU dear reader, are thoroughly incompetent to vote.
The issues are too complex. You don’t have enough time. Daniel Khaneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow demonstrates that we’re wired to go with our gut on these decisions, then reverse engineer the logic.
I just don’t like the look of her.
Her policy position on housing stems not from principle but from a calculated and sycophantic appeal homeowners/renters.
But what’s the alternative? No one likes ‘rule by the one’ dictatorship
From Adam Grant’s NYT article.
The ancient Greeks invented democracy, and in Athens many government officials were selected through sortition — a random lottery from a pool of candidates. In the United States, we already use a version of a lottery to select jurors. What if we did the same with mayors, governors, legislators, justices and even presidents?
People expect leaders chosen at random to be less effective than those picked systematically. But in multiple experiments led by the psychologist Alexander Haslam, the opposite held true. Groups actually made smarter decisions when leaders were chosen at random than when they were elected by a group or chosen based on leadership skill.
I don’t just quote the NYT, you know!
I’ve been rabbiting on about sortition for a while.
I prefer the term Lottocracy.
I means the same thing, it’s clearer to more people (what’s sortition? Who doesn’t like competing in a lottery?)
I wrote a whole sci-fi short story about it here.
I first learned about sortition from an Andrew Sullivan article in New York Magazine which I can’t immediately google…
In a nutshell, my anti-electoral (rather than anti-democratic) arguments are:
Elections don’t incentivise a representative set of people to run for election
Voters simply aren’t competent to make the choices being asked of them, so we tend to succumb to marketing
The natural result of electoral complexity is government by party and lobbying systems that I find manipulative and distasteful.
I think lottocracy is a workable solution, but I don’t think it will work in the US or UK.
At least not for a while. I live in the UK and we’re very attached to a First Past the Post electoral system that means only a very few electorates across a vast country are ever likely to deliver a candidate of a different party to parliament.
I’m a rootless cosmopolitan, so I’m going to assume there are deep and valid reasons for this - likely stemming back to the English Civil War, prior and its aftermath. It’s also had time to adjust. Look at the sheer churn of politicians in the Conservative party. It’s not like it’s the exact same faces who have been in power for 15 years or whatever. Is it 5 prime ministers in that time?
Countries of tens or hundreds of millions of people have different challenges to negotiate. I’m not saying the US and UK will never, or should never change their electoral system. I’m just saying it would and should be a long, slow process.
But New Zealand’s history is one of radical democratic reform.
We eliminated our own upper house in 1951
We introduced Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) in 1993
One person, two votes. One for an electoral candidate, one for a party
The final makeup of parliament includes 50% elected candidates, and is reflects the overall percentages apportioned by the party vote
So you have a bunch of party 'list’ MPs coming in
It’s a lot simpler than it ever sounds when written down.
Bottom line is voters seem to like it well enough - except for the resulting politicians, parties and policies.
Unfortunately, some of the greatest minds of my generation (and the ones up and down) waste their time to ra-ra-ing or boo-booing unworthy politicians, pet parties and policies.
Why choose at all?
If one is a citizen, it should be one’s obligation to participate in the governance of one’s country if randomly selected to do so. To move to the seat of government for a term, to be paid well, and to weight the pros and cons of the issues of the day as best one can and make choices in good faith, on behalf of one’s fellow citizens.
I’d vote for that.
There’s an election this year in New Zealand.
I’ll hold my nose and vote for someone and some party - but I consider it a ceremonial and obligatory act of participation. I vote with the logic that Socrates deployed to accept the justice of his death penalty: he accepted all the benefits of his citizenry - so now he had to swallow a con.
But if someone were to radically agitate for sortition/lottocracy, I would enthusiastically vote for that.
Maybe it has to be me…
I’ve run a poll in the past. But that makes you click off page and fill out a form. Let’s make it easier.
If you’d read my full manifesto on Lottocracy - which will draw on research ranging from Nobel Prize winner Daniel Khaneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow to Channel 4 favourite Denise Van Outen’s Secrets of Supermarket’s Own Brands - then…
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