The Citizen Legislature (Sortition)

(selective excerpts from ‘A Citizen Legislature’ by E. Callenbach and M Phillips reproduced with the authors’ permission.)
Many reformers recognise the threat of money in politics, but solutions that only deal with campaign spending have failed to reach the root of the problem. The Citizen Legislature is a scientific way to select legislators so they will be truly representative. This process worked for the ancient Greeks over more than two centuries: selection by lottery. This will yield a more descriptively representative legislature (i.e. one that looks like the society as a whole) and one not beholden to the weight of special interest donations that are having inordinate influence over policy.
A traditionally elected party-based upper house/ senate would remain as house of review.
At the birth of the American republic, as James Madison noted, members of the constitutional convention "wished for vigor in the government, but . . . wished that vigorous authority to flow immediately from the legitimate source of all authority. The government ought to possess not only, first, the force, but secondly, the mind or sense of the people at large. The legislature ought to be the most exact transcript of the whole society."
And John Adams argued that a legislature "should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should think, feel, reason, and act like them.” Electoral systems are not achieving this aim.
It is proposed to have a single House of Representatives of approximately 300- 400 randomly selected citizens (drawn from the broadest possible lists), serving three year terms, rotating out one third of representatives each year. On this sample size, the match to the population as a whole would be accurate within a statistical deviation around 2.5%. As such, the democracy would be likely to see teachers, plumbers, entrepreneurs, engineers, women, writers, immigrants, business people, retirees etc at the same ratio you see people in society.
Those drawn would be paid and work full-time as representatives, meeting daily and with the power and impetus to explore every element of the bureaucracy and public expenditures – rather than have a single minister as the point of control.

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