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DWE NEWSLETTER OF JANUARY 31, 2021

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Contents

This month's newsletter features the following sections: Announcements, Member Spotlight, Ideas to Consider, and DL (Democratic Lottery) Roundup of articles, papers, and reports of interest. To see the accompanging graphics, be sure your email client or browser is set to display images. 

From the Editor

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Welcome to the newly designed DWE newsletter. Your feedback and input is appreciated. Please send relevant links to articles, papers, and reports of interest, as well as proposals for "Ideas to Consider" articles and other features to Wayne Liebman

DWE February Meeting

 
The next Monthly Meeting is 9:00 PM Eastern (6:00 PM Pacific) on Tuesday 16 February. You will receive an email soon containing the Zoom link.
 
Featuring a presentation by Terry Bouricius:
Replacing elected representatives with citizens selected by lot is not enough!
Democracy through lotteries cannot simply replace elected representatives with people selected by lot. The procedures and entire structure of an allotted body needs to be completely different. In elected chambers most work is done by small committees, with the other members simply following the lead of the members of their party serving on each  committee. Elected members put together a partisan staff who help them develop policy positions with the goal of assuring their re-election. A properly functioning system based on democratic lotteries shouldn't rely on partisan staff or small committees with partisan leadership. In this talk, Terry Bouricius, a former state representative, and current democratic lottery advocate, will explain how elected legislative bodies actually function, and how lottery mini-publics might function instead.

DEW February Board Meeting

 
The next DWE Board meeting is Monday, February 1 at 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific). All members are welcome. Zoom link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85174285756?pwd=RG9ZdjFkclRLTmEvNDBwQzRicU1FZz09

Meeting ID: 851 7428 5756
Passcode: 917129

Launch of the Sortition International Network

 
February 13, Noon EST. Leaders from groups like ours from around the world will meet and discuss common challenges. 
 

A Random Citizen


Back in the Spring of 2019, our tiny group contemplated going to a national meeting of a sibling organization, Unrig Summit. Two people ended up going, and one took a business card claiming that she was a “Random Citizen” -- Byers.

Byers is an integral part of our organization. She was involved with developing our organization in the early days, was pivotal in the process of redefining ourselves as Democracy Without Elections last Fall, and continues to be a part of steering our organization through both the Outreach and Coordinating Committees.

Many of us know of the deep history behind Democratic Lotteries through the writings of Aristotle. Byers honors Aristotle from a broader perspective that shows through his statement, “Hope is the dream of the waking man.” She lives in the San Francisco area.

AGENDA BASED GROUPS AS A CATALYST OF DEMOCRATIC LOTTERY
 
A paradox overlays the heart of democratic lottery advocacy. Most come to government by lot as an antidote to oligarchic societies gounded in corrupted, hyper-partisan politics. But how to make progress toward more just and balanced, lottery-based government? The ironic answer is to offer citizens' assemblies as a weapon to groups that are out of power, as a means of restoring balance. Get down and dirty to get clean. 

The success of the "Voters Not Politicians" campaign in Michigan points to a method of introducing lottery-based assemblies to a wider audience: find an agenda based group with a problem and propose a sortition based body as a potential solution. The agenda-based group in Michigan: the city of Flint. Gerrymandering of the state legislature by the in-power party prevented voters in Flint from electing representatives who could protect their water supply.The proposed solution: a state initiative creating a sortition-based redistricting commission to draw fairer lines for the 2022 election and beyond. The initiative passed in the 2018 election. Old fashioned, grassroots political organizing resulted in an overwhelming electoral victory. 

Using lottery as a tool to help an interest group leverage power has a Machiavellian ring, but only because the political environment in the United States is hopelessly partisan and mired in special interest money. Out-of-power groups on both the left and the right offer fertile ground to plant the seeds of democratic lottery and deliberative democracy. They illuminate a forward path for democratic lottery advocacy. Michigan gerrymandering is but one example, the most successful so far, but there are many others.

Let advocates look for racial justice groups like Black Lives Matter and enlist them as allies to lobby for lottery-based police oversight commissions. Or on the other side of the spectrum, let advocates approach conservative groups like Sons of Confederate Veterans to advocate for local citizens' assemblies to mediate the disposition of Confederate monuments. 


As with all well-constructed mini publics, outcomes of deliberation cannot be determined in advance. Agenda based groups who join force with CA advocates must be willing to let the deliberative body decide. But out-of-power groups have little to lose. A fair shake is better than none at all. 

-- Wayne Liebman

Interested in DWE's Citizens' Assembly Interest Group? Contact Owen Shaffer

Do you have an idea to consider for the next newsletter? Contact Wayne Liebman.

 

A DOCUMENTARY STARING
DEMOCRATIC LOTTERY

 
Slay the Dragon tells two stories about democracy: the anti-gerrymandering lawsuit in Wisconsin that went to the Supreme Court, and the "Voters Not Politicians" initiative in Michigan, which took redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and gave it to a commission of thirteen randomly selected citizens. Available on Hulu.

Washington State Climate Assembly Underway

 
suggested by Nick Coccoma:
 
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