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In this paper I will argue that sortition - choosing representatives by chance - could be a way of conciliating the disenchanted democratic citizens with their government. Current democracies suffer under what has been termed the democratic fatigue syndrome. Low voter turnouts, decreasing citizen participation, high rates of distrust and a subsequent rise of nationalist movements. But underlying this fatigue seems to be a general systematic problem, which Robert J. Pranger, Hannah Arendt and Max Weber identify as the politics of interests. These politics rely on competition, coalitions and assertive creativity, - en grow - they rely on power and power play.
These politics of interests are closely related with the method of choosing representatives via elections. Elections congeal diversity of political interests and opinion into one campaign theme. Throughout the development of the republican tradition elections became a more popular mode of finding representatives, largely due to the rational hierarchy inherent in elections. This natural hierarchy also assumes a natural distinction between politician and voter and has in the long run caused the current problem of interest based politics and a disenchanted citizenry.
In the American context, the founding fathers did not envision a purely interest based polity. Rather the polity should be full of liberty, balancing private ambition with toleration and thereby creating community. Because, however, the federal government has increasingly become subject to elected officials, interests have obscured the public good of toleration. Today, the factious tendencies of the federal government seem stronger than ever, creating vicious groups of membership with us against them mindsets. The original idea of union in the American community has fallen silent.
Sortition, qua its characters of freedom and equality and its necessary plurality could work to recreate such community. I will attempt to relate sortition to Robert J. Pranger’s ideas of liberty and Hannah Arendt’s conception of the founding moment of the US Constitution.
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Kunz, Jonas LH, "Who Acts? Community through Chance" (2017). Senior Projects Fall 2017. 29.
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