Could a random lottery solve the sociopath problem in American politics?

Sure, but when the real estate and development lobbyists show up to your office, you’ll be showered with millions of dollars in campaign donations. And since you don’t have to run for office, you get to keep it! Your attitude about private land ownership would surely be tested! /s

Seriously, though; how would this proposal for a lottery be any easier than simply getting big money out of politics? That’s 99.9% of our problem.



Ah yes, make sure that lobbyists are the only professionals near the levers of power. What could possibly go wrong?


Isn’t random lottery how juries are selected already?


I guess they’re just coming out and saying it now, aren’t they?

Athenians also had slavery and women had no rights. Maybe it’s time we stop idealizing ancient civilizations and trying to be like them?


Yes, but juries are designed in such a way that members need no special training.

Judges, on the other hand, need to have legal training if they are going to conduct trials or make rulings in accordance with the law. (And yes, I know there are jurisdictions where such knowledge is not a prerequisite for being appointed as a judge. I personally find that idea horrific.)


Hopefully that comment was cautionary, rather than a recommendation…


This is the second worst thing to come out of Wharton.


It seems like there’s a pretty massive secondary effect that would probably confound the results a bit:

If you are selecting people by lottery that implies that the leader pool is going to be almost exclusively 1 termers; and whatever slight chance of another go they have is going to be unrelated to their performance in office(short of sufficient criminality to be rendered ineligible).

I suspect that a lot of people would still try, out of a combination of internal motivation and fear of social censure; but for at least some the fact that there’s no difference in direct outcome between superb execution and catastrophic failure would probably make a difference.

The shift toward inexperienced officeholders, meanwhile, seems like it would be a boon to various behind-the-throne types; chiefs of staff, think tanks that write your legislation for you, assorted advisors; and anyone else who is not formally a leader and so not subject to reshuffling and has the resources to work steadily on having turnkey leadership consumables on hand for when an agreeable instrument’s dice come up lucky. There’s obviously a fair amount of that already; but presumably would be more if candidates no longer had any semblance of career staying power or personal inertia.


Not sure how you took that as an idealization of Athens, more of way of saying “something like this has been tried with very mixed results”.

Of course, I won’t believe this is practical inodern society until we’ve had a few decades without finding lottery fraud…


Be clearer in your meaning maybe? Someone would seriously use that as a talking point to show how it’s a “good” idea…


It really was not clear if your comment was meant as a positive or negative statement.

This is the internet, where we all lack the benefits of eye contact, tone of voice, and body language.

When we want our message to be clearly understood the onus is on each of us to:


That’s how I read your comment, too. :man_shrugging:


This was how “democracy” worked in Songs from Distant Earth by A.C. Clarke


Not exactly. Jury pools are chosen at random, usually from voter registration rolls. Then before the actual trial, juries are selected from those pools. Each side’s attorney gets to interview jurors, at which point any number of them can be rejected for cause (like a clear conflict of interest), and each side gets a certain number of peremptory challenges where they can reject a juror without giving a reason. And, as @Brainspore correctly pointed out, juries do not need to be experts in the law. To expand on that, in trials in the US, juries are the finder of fact, while the judge is the finder of law. So questions of law (can this case be dismissed because there’s no legal basis for a tort claim) are decided by the judge while questions of fact (is the plaintiff telling the truth) are decided by the jury.


well okay

  1. This is already how they select juries, so people seem to understand it and not have a big problem with it

  2. It might work great in a large group like a legislature, where any cranks can be outvoted

  3. A crank being selected as a judge, a governor, or a president is obviously an unacceptable risk

  4. Something something Electoral College


Yeah no. This is outright saying that government officials are unskilled job that anyone who was awake in civics can do.
How about we stop worshiping and enabling the narcissistic sociopaths and just don’t elect them to office? Heck, I’d even settle for a population who will call out the bad players and hold them accountable instead of thinking we can’t have nice things.


But you still need someone who actually understands the rules and procedures of the legislature to run things or you just end up with dozens of people yelling at each other (yeah, yeah, “how would we tell the difference?”) So in that scenario you end up with the most powerful person in the room being whatever unelected bureaucrat is in charge of assigning people into committees and allowing legislation to proceed and whatnot.


I’m a fan of needing to pass a civics test to be a candidate. There’s a few currently serving who would become ineligible, and this could only be a good thing.


Part 2 of the process, is to have a plebiscite at the end of their term, to see if they get a modest pension and general plaudits, or have ‘Bad President’ tattooed on their foreheads and be forced to live in a dumpster.