Brett Hennig asks what if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people?

Other | Monday 23rd July 2018 | David

We are always told about the importance of voting, but at the end of the day, is ticking a box on a piece of paper once every four years really enough to ensure that our voices are heard? This is something Brett Hennig explores in his TED Talk, which focuses on the topic of sortition, which is the process of randomly selecting people to govern instead of voting them into office.

At first, the idea of randomly selected people being allowed to govern seems absurd, but as Hennig explains, it would result in those in power being more likely to share the same background and views as members of the public. This would lead to them being more likely to share the same concerns as regular folk, as opposed to elected politicians, who, as we all know, are often out of touch with the will of the people. If sortition were implemented, people of all races, ages, and backgrounds would be represented in government, which would mean that everybody’s voice would be heard, so nobody would be silenced.

Hennig also proposes that the randomly selected candidates should regularly meet with experts to advise them on certain topics so that they can have the best knowledge when it comes to passing laws and policies. In his opinion, the only major downside to sortition would be the end of career politicians, a group of people he clearly does not hold in high regard.

Hennig acknowledges that the prospect might not seem plausible at first, although he explains that sortition was used successfully in Ancient Athens through the use of a device known as a Kleroterion, and that countries like France and Scotland are currently campaigning to implement citizen’s senates. Not everybody will agree with him, but Hennig clearly states that he feels sortition is vastly superior to electing leaders, and he hopes for it to receive more mainstream recognition. As he says, change does happen eventually, it is just a matter of when and how.

Sortition is too vast a topic to be fully examined in a nine-minute video, so be sure to visit the Sortition Foundation’s website to learn more. Whilst it is certainly not a concept which everybody will support, sortition is still worthy of further examination.