How About Letting Random People Decide Policy?

How About Letting Random People Decide Policy?

okay let's go back to the phones at 6 1 7 8 3 0 47 50 we've got a lot of people holding today let's see where we want to go next why don't we talk to a lot of area codes I don't recognize let's go to our caller from the six four seven area code who's calling today from six four seven hi David it's Eric from Toronto hey Eric what's going on today yeah I wondered if if you know much about citizens assemblies I've been reading a lot about the topic lately and I wonder what you thought about them as a problem-solving mechanism no I've not heard of them by that name but what are they because I think it sounds like it's something I know by a different name okay a citizen's assembly is an assembly of randomly selected citizens convened to consider a problem listen to experts and deliberate with help from some moderators and propose solution it's kind of like legislation by jury yeah exactly I was going to make the analogy to the jury I mean listen I love the idea in principle and one of the biggest problems we have I don't know how big of a problem it is in Canada but in the u.s. one of the biggest problems we have within the sort of a sphere of elected officials is that they are coming disproportionately from narrow slices of society in terms of their professions in terms of their financial circumstances and in other ways it's a relatively homogeneous group that lacks diversity in ways that I think would be important I'm not talking about racial diversity but in these other ways the problem is like I've been on a jury and it's pretty bad and I did a segment which now I think has more than half a million views on YouTube saying we have to recognize that there's just a lot of people that are ignorant dumb stupid call it whatever you want I don't want to stigmatize it but there's just a lot of people that lack information and cognitive ability so I want more diversity of voices in deciding how our society should be organized and and weighing in on policy at the same time I've been on a jury where two-thirds of the jury members didn't even understand what the law was that we were supposed to make a guilty or not guilty determination of so it also scares me and I understand like when you go back you know to Plato and see his anti-democracy views I understand them I'm not I'm not an anti I'm not against democracy but I understand the problem with just letting random people be in charge of stuff I've been on juries you know well I think that's a very good point although you know it has been tried in a couple of areas of the world such as British Columbia had one about electoral reform Ireland had one about abortions and I think really the results speak for themselves there if you can get experts in front of these people if you can have moderators you know getting them to discuss in a productive way people really do change their minds and come to what I think are reasonable solutions to complicated problems that's fantastic I mean it's it's heartwarming and inspirational that there are examples of it having worked well and I would be super in favor of the idea as long as I felt good about you know not listen 60 million people voted for Trump it's like how how how critically are you thinking if you go to the ballot box and say I want Donald Trump to be President and that's what's really scary to me mm-hmm yeah one of the things it seems like citizens assemblies can really change if they took over a lot more of the legislative role from elected representatives is that the role of political parties in society could be marginalized a lot and that might get rid of a lot of the toxic culture around politics that is troubling many areas of the world today completely agree although I think that there's also the possibility that in so doing it allows for other new problems that we would have to solve but super interesting and I'll look into it further I appreciate you bringing it up all right have a great day okay you too appreciate the call

38 thoughts on “How About Letting Random People Decide Policy?

  1. plato was an aristocrat. Think miss piggy mccain. he was anti democracy but he was not in favor of educated descendants of peasants or any such.

    the founders' idea was a republic where people chose those they admired. We would have Noam Chomsky for secretary of state and Richard Wolff for treasury.

  2. Another argument against direct democracy is Brexit. Maybe you could fix that problem by having people take a test on their understanding of an issue before voting on it, but that could be problematic too.

  3. Is the dude is talking about referendums? It's called public referendum when the people vote on policy. For example I'm Swedish and since we became a democracy we had 6 of these, from voting to reject prohibition to on what side of the road to driving, joining the EU and then the Euro and some others. Both Ireland and AU voted to legalise gay marrige and yeah you know, it's also that's how Brexit happend.

    Is there no referendums at all in the US?

  4. I urge everyone to read "Against Elections" by David van Reybrouck which makes a very convincing case for such a sortition system/citizens' assemblies. (Never mind the clickbaity title, it really is a great read.)

  5. I’m consider myself highly educated individual, but even I’m quite dumb at the ballot box. I’ll vote for the few people I came to vote for, then for everything else I’ll vote along party lines or with my gut. It’s just too hard to research everything. Therefore I think the idea of having expert testimonies regarding each topic could really make a difference, assuming they’re not lobbyists…

  6. I had this idea too. Sure, people are dumb, but they are even dumber when voting. If you take like a 1000 people and make them listen to 8-hours of arguments of both sides I think they will make better decisions than voters in elections.
    In any case it is fun to speculate on all the different voting systems, and perhaps some way of really fixing the flaws in democracy in a much more fundamental way.

    You could also use this perhaps just to put the breaks on congress. Eg perhaps any bill not only has to pass both houses and the president. It also can be vetoed by a 75% vote of these citizen's panels. This could knock out things like that Net neutrality bill that 95% were against.

  7. So the solution to controlling this method of decision making would by hyper partisan information control to pre bias the citizenry and selecting who the experts are. Imagine you have an expert from the Koch foundation for clean energy talking about a proposed solar farm or the American enterprise institute talking about healthcare management. Although in principle I like the idea it isn't like it's immune from corporate or powerful peoples influence.

  8. There are better ways to diminish the role of political parties than citizen assemblies. Primarily, finance laws, that take the power away from unions and corporations alike.
    Trump and brexit are strong arguments against such a concept.
    As far as British Columbia ideas go, they are best ignored. From the 403 area code.

  9. To make sure people m
    Most affected by Voters are majority of Voters. Restrict voting rights to Those tax payers or Those who serve or have served in Millary or police or have an IQ over 105 including kids aged 12

  10. Look Rome and other. Examples show when country becomes majority rule it's typically it's Dow fall. And in Democracy the media has more power tgen the federal government. Leaving. Many stories and exaggerating other determining people thoughts feels thoughts conclusions reactions. Even memories. And unrestricted Democracy can be quickest way to tyranny. The minor comforts of many out vote Rights and needs of few Fri small town being drain for big cities were the votes are to how Metoo justied false accusations though horrible much more damage. then rape . They don't matter because their. Because we start Believing her and impossible to disprove

  11. James Fishkin gives a good overview of "Deliberative Democracy" and shows how it has worked all over the world from poorly-educated developing countries to well-educated Western countries.
    It seems to avoid the "jury of idiots" scenario very well by thoroughly laying out the best arguments for alternatives ahead of time and using relative large groups of citizens.

  12. I wish I could remember more clearly the content of this article. If I'm not mistaken it was about how researchers had gathered a team of nobodies to learn about world events and make a determination on how world leaders would react to current affairs, and they were substantially more accurate, outside the margin of error, than "experts" in politics and social sciences. Because they aren't bringing with them the bias of their expertise. I believe they even said the CIA convenes panels just like this regularly now, specifically because of how reliable it is. Don't quote me on this – but if anybody has any clue what article I'm talking about it would be great to get a link. Maybe Pakman could read that.

  13. Epistocracy anybody? Governance by the educated? Healthcare policies by doctors, educational policies by teachers?

  14. Agree. There'd need to be a comprehensive learning process first so voters know what they are voting on and tested on a small scale. Maybe even a system where they conference with the representatives

  15. British Columbia and Ireland don’t have idiotic brainwashed Trump fans that could wreck the whole system if asked their opinion’s.

  16. Elected officials are already (or should be) the voice of the majority, so in theory your average group of people would want and support the same things, and it would be more democratic (less single bad candidates with too much power) so I don't see a huge issue. To resolve the 'poorly informed voters' problem, I think maybe you could sample people who either have a bachelor's degree or above, or who perform well enough on an IQ test if they don't have a degree.

  17. We have this in my country (Ireland) – a People’s Assembly, featuring a random but representative selection of citizens which meet every so often. They don’t decide policy per se – but they do meet/are assembled to help guide the government on particularly important matters, as a representative voice of The People. As such, they’ve helped to highlight the general reception to important matters such as easing abortion access, legalizing gay marriage, and other such topics. I’m not sure such an assembly could work in America, however – we have many political parties and diverse outlooks here, but America is pretty much just following Kodos or Kang, which would greatly hinder an advisory people’s assembly…

  18. This is how it should work:
    Congress passed the legislation, the President signs it.
    If at least 2/3 of voters want to override that legislation, then a referendum can be held.

  19. I think one of the main reasons why juries have so many problems at least in the US, is that they are intended to scare off or exclude those more intelligent or capable of the critical thinking necessary to actually do the job of a juror through various means. Some examples include underpaying the those jurors for their work there, and the prosecution/defendants being able to pick off people in an attempt to tilt the jury to their advantage.

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