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Thinking outside the democracy box

A recent article by Bruce Bower in Science News examined the Muskogee Tribe’s system of governance and determined the tribe practiced democracy before Columbus landed. This was then lauded in the article as something warranting admiration and acclaim, an expression of cultural sophistication. “Begging the question” is a logical fallacy in which the false premise is asserted as self-evident truth. This is common in self-worshipping cultures where statements addressing the greatness of the culture are presented as foregone fact rather than debatable assertion (example: “Since the USA is the greatest nation on earth”…rather than: “If the USA is the greatest nation on earth…”) Even the ancient Greeks, often credited with first practicing democracy, abandoned democracy as an inherently corruptible form of government, and instead adopted “sortition,” which for them, was a superior option, a rung higher on the ladder of cultural evolution. For whatever reason, sortition made few appearances throughout the Dark Ages, and did not resurface in mainstream social discussion until after the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century.

Historically, the battle has always been between monarchies and democracy, and then between democracy and communism, and then between democracy and fascism, or fascism and communism. Politicians did not even consider sortition and most don’t even know what the word means. Sortition calls for eligible citizens to place their names in a large pool to be selected at random for public service.

Australian philosopher and political analyst John Burnheim explored the more technical aspects of sortition in his 2016 book The Demarchy Manifesto; suggested reading.

The recent ranked-choice voting in Alaska was a quasi-example of sortition, where voters ranked a larger list than just two candidates, Democrat or Republican.

The argument against the two party system is that the powers that be control both parties, control the process whereby nominees are selected and no selection is possible where the powers that be don’t already control the nominee. Worse still, both nominees may have been created and empowered just to serve this authoritarian master. Alaska’s ranked-choice voting gave the citizens a chance to step away from the two party duopoly, and they made good use of it, sending right wing flag bearer Sarah Palin to defeat and voting for the Native American alternative, Mary Peltola. The deeper, uglier truth is, whether Palin or Peltola, both are locked into a system where they will be controlled by one party or another and these parties are both controlled by the same entrenched power. This is why even though most Americans want M4All, want education reform, want a living wage, we don’t get these things because both parties are ordered by their masters to work against them, regardless of what they tell the folks back home. Sortition would kill the duopoly and allow randomly selected representatives to work together on tribal councils, or in Pierre, or in D.C., and adopt the reforms the American people want. When asked about the quality of the current crop of legislators, most Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied, so it is difficult to argue that a randomly selected legislature could possibly be worse.

Sortition for tribal councils would be far superior to the IRA government and would dramatically reduce nepotism, cronyism and straight up corruption almost overnight. Reservations are ideal for refining the sortition process, because they are micro-environments where the sortition impact can be more easily and effectively monitored and analyzed.

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