In today's society, democracy has become synonymous with elections and, in a few cases, with direct democracy. We believe that both approaches have major limitations that prevent everyday people from meaningfully participating in community decision-making. In trying to solve these problems, we advocate for open-minded, practical experimentation to develop better ways to democracy. Because the overarching approach to democracy today is elections, we think it is important to test out and modify a range of other promising alternatives that have so far received limited use. For example, we believe there is great promise in randomly selecting representatives and rotating them. These practices have a long history dating back to Ancient Athens and show promise in facilitating sincere deliberation, increasing representativeness, fostering skill development, and limiting corruption. The British Columbia and Ontario Citizens’ Assemblies on Electoral Reform are powerful examples of how, in the right conditions, randomly selected citizens are able to tackle difficult questions in an informed, deliberative, and representative way.
For the last year, we have been experimenting with replacing elected student governments with those that are randomly selected and rotated. Although it is still early on, we have been excited by our findings (http://www.participedia.net/en/cases/democracy-practice-democratic-student-government-program-cochabamba-bolivia). We are now hoping to expand our use of these and other promising practices beyond schools to other contexts and are really excited about the potential. Happy to discuss our work with you all to bring about real, lasting change.
Democracy In Practice