Elections suck. Can't we just have a draw?


Politics sucks. Even people who are honestly interested in all the political games often admit: it’s shit.

I would compare it to the Scrum methodology – it might be a useful tool to get your team to get the shit done, but it often ends up resulting in more meetings about what to do than actually doing it.

What if instead of elections we just had a draw?

It sounds crazy, I know. But the whole point of representative democracy is to get a handful of people to represent the masses and make hard decisions in their name.

What better way to represent a group than a random sample? We use it for polls just fine – as long as the sample is truly random and the execution not objectionable, they can be really reliable.

Who represents us in current parliaments? Historians. Businessmen. Sociologists. Lawyers. Career politicians. Sounds like a valid cross section of society, doesn’t it?

Yup, it doesn’t.

Our current system puts in parliaments people who are detached from reality and oblivious to problems of their average constituent on one hand, but also not really an intellectual elite either (those can have far better lives and make far better money outside of the legislative).

Imagine your socially-engaged neighbour wants to get in there. They’re a good person, they really care, they have great ideas to improve your common country. But in order to get elected, they have to join a party, navigate through the swamp, fight for a place on the list, fight gerrymandering, worry about the polls, spend horrendous amounts of money on a campaign, make that money somehow, probably throw some fundraisers and make some obligations, then make some hard compromises to form a coalition...

What if the political scene weren’t so hectic? What if they could get there by... just being lucky?

OK, OK, there probably should be more rules than that. First of all, I think one should apply to be a candidate for a draw. We shouldn’t end up with a “jury duty” legislative, being ruled by people who don’t care, who are not engaged, and who were forced to do it...

Second of all, I’m all for meritocracy (not totally sure how to do it right, though...). We should probably only allow people to apply if they have a higher education or something. It’s not a super high bar to reach, so it won’t restrict legislative to only the elites who don’t understand the struggles of commoners, but it’s also high enough to ensure some reasonable level of competence.

Imagine the MPs could make their decisions based solely on the actual arguments from the debates, on the information from the experts and on their own conscience – as opposed to the party they have to stay loyal to, the lobbyist, the people who funded their campaign, the coalition they are currently in, the popularity of the decision, the chances to get reelected, etc. etc.

Would drawing our representatives really be worse than the system we currently have? I would argue that probably not.

I can think of two quite big cons of draws though:

First of all, the lack of legitimacy. If nobody voted for the MPs, can we expect people to submit to their rule? Populists will probably make it their main talking point. But for centuries people have accepted the legitimacy of unelected monarchs, didn’t they? And you have to admit, the rules of the draw are egalitarian and fair, it is a valid way of selecting one’s representatives.

Also: do we question people’s rights to spend their millions if they didn’t earn it, but won it in a lottery? Exactly.

Secondly, the lack of possibility of feedback. A corrupt or stupid politician can be voted out – at least theoretically. A randomly selected MP would only be held accountable by history.

Still, I think a draw might be a step forward in our democracies. Maybe we should experiment with it? Maybe have one chamber of parliament elected as usual, but the other one drawn? It would keep the career politicians in check, as the voice of the public that finally has some actual power?

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About the author

Hi! I'm Andrea (they/them). I tell computers what to do, both for a living and for fun, I'm also into blogging, writing and photography. I'm trying to make the world just a little bit better: more inclusive, more rational and more just.