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Dale Retter


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Present democracy is like a verdict by a mob that does not attend a trial. Tribunocracy is a better way.

The single thing the world most needs now is better government. Our present system of mass public elections selecting government leaders and voting on referendum is equivalent to verdicts rendered by jurors that do not attend a trial. Better government requires a better system.

There is growing dissatisfaction with our election process, the role of money, and the ineffective government it produces Nevertheless reverence for the present form of democracy has largely precluded consideration of modifications substantial enough to significantly improve its substance. Tribunocracy is such a modification.

Tribunocracy utilizes Tribunes randomly selected from all the willing eligible potential voters. Like jurors in a court trial the selected Tribunes attend a public trial-like Tribunal Convention before voting. The majority vote of the Tribunes is a proxy for the majority vote of the entire pool of eligible voters. Tribunes serve only briefly, are dismissed after voting and retain no special power.

Tribunocracy reduces the role of money and shallow campaigning.

All Tribunes attend a public trial-like Tribunal Convention, before they vote. Like jurors in a trial, Tribunes are exposed directly to the candidates and testifying parties for hours, over a period of days. Thus it greatly reduces the need and value of paid advertising, and shallow slogan based campaign rhetoric. Dishonest claims, incorrect facts, and shallow arguments will be much less common; because the opposition will have adequate time and opportunity to dispute them by presenting better more persuasive evidence and arguments during the Tribunal Convention.

A quick dramatic change to Tribunocracy is not possible. However its gradual adoption is. Tribunocracy should and will first be introduced and tested in small special limited non-threatening non critical situations. For example, Tribunal Conventions might initially select officials not now elected such as city managers, or judges


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  • Dec 12 2012: @Dale Retter

    Your website does not explain how the agenda will be set for the tribunals (who will decide what to discuss and when?), the system is also likely to devolve into randomness with things like abortion being stuck in a loop of being legalized one week and being criminalized the next (this is the reason there are years in between elections). The one thing less reliable than politics are trials.
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      Dec 13 2012: Thanks for visiting the web site. The constitution does not specify every detail and many of the necessary mechanics had to be worked out and evolved over time. Tribunocracy will need to start small with experimentation in non critical arrears before its practice has gained enough refinement to assume more importance. Basically there would be equal time for candidates to speak, offer witnesses (other people speaking and presenting information on their behalf) rebuttals. Tribunes would after deliberation in small groups offer written questions and comments.
      If you were accused of committing murder, would you consider a trial by mass public opinion manifest by voting on a referendum, more or less reliable than a trial by jurors who witnessed your trial?
      • Dec 13 2012: I understand that any system has to evolve but you have to lay down some guiding principles to start. Tribunocracy lacks a guiding principle for setting agendas, it simply won't work without one, you have to fix that.

        "If you were accused of committing murder, would you consider a trial by mass public opinion manifest by voting on a referendum, more or less reliable than a trial by jurors who witnessed your trial?"

        I really hope I never get accused for a trial by jury (thank god my country doesn't have those), period. The American justice system is a farce with judges and especially juries who judge people by their appearance and don't know the first thing about technology, science and statistics, and lawyers (the most clever ones only available to the rich) who know how to exploit those weaknesses. I'd rather have trial by computer, I would at least stand a chance then.

        And seriously, what if the science budget is up for debate and the tribunal presiding over it is composed of 100% inbred, evangelical teabaggers? Also, in politics there often is no single right answer: which is when the voice of the people is the only measure you can go by. How much money should be spend on security, how much to development aid? This is when it really matters to hear the voice of the people instead of the voices of a handful of people who were randomly picked and may thus very well represent a minority opinion.
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          Dec 13 2012: Some of the guidelines for the agenda are detailed at www.tribunocracy.org. Like any new laws and regulations they should be public set well before the event and subject to revision based on experience.
          Initially the objective of Tribunocracy is to replace mass public voting by eligible voters choosing to vote with a random sampling of eligible voters who indicate they would be willing to serve as jurors if selected. The advantage is not that they are any different from the group of eligible voters they represent, but rather that the process of attending the Tribunal Convention before they vote would provide them more information, exposure to the candidates and arguments, before they vote. It does not require that Tribunes assume any greater participation.
          Seriously I view trial by jury a poor form of justice, but as Winston Churchill said of democracy, its only virtue is that it is better than the alternatives.

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