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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 16 2012: You assume randomly selected tribunes will not be subject to undue influence by the wealthy and powerful. Not much chance of that. In fact there can be no democratic systems that are not influenced by money. Whether by advertising, lobbying or outright bribery, money talks, and always has.

    So I think the problem to solve isn't influence so much as undue and secret influence. The way representative democracies are set up, only the super-wealthy can use their money to influence decisions. The only way to create an equitable system is to balance direct democracy against the plutocrats, actively and publiclly redistributing their lobbying money back to the people - who can use it to exert influence in their turn.

    I felt strongly enough about this to implement it myself as a Facebook app. The system is in public alpha right now - see http://www.doshmosh.com - all feedback very welcome.
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      Dec 16 2012: The greatest direct influence of money and power in our political process is exercised by providing candidates with the money they require in order to pay for the campaigning they must do to be reelected or by spending money directly campaigning for a candidate. If a Tribunes alone determined the outcome of an election only after attending the public Tribunal Convention the importance of money spent on pre Tribunal campaigning will be relatively minimal.
      Most juries are not frequently influenced by money and power because doing so is a crime. The jurors are sequestered and serve only briefly. In a some jury trial a single juror might affect the outcome. If a juror is bribed to vote not guilty in a criminal trial it will prevent a guilty verdict and the briber will be able to know if the bribed juror failed to do so, if they are found guilty. If there are dozens of Tribunes and it is a crime to bribe them or accept a bribe the risk to reward ratio of trying to bribe them will be small. Like jurors Tribunes are sequestered, the may keep their vote confidential, and they serve only briefly. Tribunocracy will greatly reduce the roll of money an power in deterring election outcome, and the behavior of candidates influenced by the need to raise money.
      • Dec 16 2012: If tribunal members are drawn from the general population, money invested in influencing that population will affect them too. Since they are also susceptible to corruption through personal threats or incentives they're more susceptible to influence than the general population.

        Of course doing that would be criminal, but in the USA you have congressional leaders on record passing out checks on the floor of the house to influence votes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAC2xeT2yOg) - do your really think sequestration would prevent such people from having their way?

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