Why Elections Are the Problem and How to Make Democracy Real (annotated)

Representative democracy is in crisis. Legislatures do not accurately reflect all sectors of society. Ordinary citizens should have more say than merely pulling a ballot lever once every few years. A government that is merely ‘for’ the people is not any longer good enough. It is time to institute a government that is also ‘by’ and ‘of’ the people.

The original Athenian democracy used a method altogether different than elections to select its officials. They used the system now used to select citizens for jury duty — sortition. This essay reflects upon how the lessons from that first democracy might be used to develop a ‘legislative jury’ capable of representing all citizens without regard to party affiliation, financial status or any ideology other than fair play.

This annotated essay includes appendices with links, bibliography, how to hold a workshop and access to other goods and services.

See https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 for this essay and information on my other genres,  formats and videos on this topic.

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Next Step for Democracy

NEXT STEP FOR DEMOCRACY (a short comedic educational stage play)

Marisa, Alma, Sami, and Ali live in a city embroiled in conflict and violence — the Regime, the Opposition, the Opposition to the Opposition. When the fighting stops, they ask themselves: What next?

“Next Step for Democracy” argues for choosing legislators in the way we choose juries. And the way that the first democracy did. By random lot, known as ‘sortition.’

Please visit https://buff.ly/2FSHFP1 to see my other pieces on this topic in different genres and formats.

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Democracy at Random (screenplay)

DEMOCRACY AT RANDOM (road trip screenplay)
Two citizens are chosen as representatives to the first randomly-selected legislature. One is angry, black, male, privileged and crippled. The other is naïve, white, poor, female and lively.

This odd couple embarks on a nationwide barnstorm to advocate for two wildly different agendas: income redistribution and consumer-driven eugenics.

Can they meet the challenges posed by ruthless adversaries? Can they overcome their personal shortcomings?

Once having made that Next Step for Democracy, can The People maintain it?



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Random Takes Off

RANDOM TAKES OFF (political action screenplay)

What if we selected representatives the way the first democracy did? The way we choose juries?

In this screenplay one of the five hundred chosen for the first Citizen Legislature is a farm boy, coming off of a drug addiction. The other is a suburban middle-aged woman who’d really rather be gardening.

They will face bribery attempts. A smear campaign. High-tech shenanigans. Can they be an effective Citizen Legislature in the face of all of that?

I wrote this screenplay because I believe in democracy. And I like to laugh my way through challenge and conflict.

Please visit my Author’s Page to see all my pieces on this topic in different genres and formats.

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The Fight for Random – screenplay

Ethnically shape-shifting Stride and his ragtag bunch of Peace Parasites nonviolently fight against the moneyed powers-that-be to make democracy real.

It takes a solar-powered blimp, time travel, levitation, a soulful blues band on a river barge, and a passel of bicycling tax collectors to drum up a projected future government that really is – despite the sometimes scatological and often magical-realist hocus-pocus — a viable next step towards a democracy that is… Of, By and For… The People.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, meets Monty Python and gets MASH’ed!


“One of the most intellectually stimulating scripts I’ve read in a long time. Both the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement could find this concept appealing.” — Lyn Vaus, Screenwriter, “Next Stop Wonderland”

See my Author’s Page for my work on this topic in eight different genres and formats.

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Eight choices

The Fight for Random – wild magical realist screenplay

Random Takes Off – political action drama screenplay

Democracy at Random – road trip screenplay

Random Takes Baltimore – municipal version of “Takes Off” screenplay

Next Step for Democracy – a short comedic educational stage play

Why Elections Are the Problem and How to Make Democracy Real — annotated essay

On the Citizen House: A Disquisitional Fiction – a disputatious novella

The Common Lot: A Novel – as stated

Please visit my Author’s Page (https://amazon.com/author/grantd) to choose your preferred genre and format.

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Sortition in eight flavors

I am publishing four screenplays, a short stage play, a long essay, a novella and a novel – all envisioning the pros and cons of using sortition (random selection) to ensure more accurately representative legislatures.

The genres run from wild magical realism to sober political analysis.

Please visit my Author’s Page (https://amazon.com/author/grantd) to choose your preferred genre and format.

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“On the Citizen House: A Disquisitional Fiction” by David Grant

On the Citizen House: A Disquisitive Fiction is a novella of ideas in the form of socratic dialogue wrapped up in a road trip. Formatted as a proto-screenplay, description is sparse, characterization thin. Dialogue and visuals dominate.

The Citizen House is the world’s first national legislature chosen as the original Athenian democrats did — by sortition (by random selection). Two representatives face the challenges of advocating for their disparate views in a legislature demographically more reflective of the entire population than any other.

Amazon e-book: http://tinyurl.com/yao8lckx

68 pages, single spaced. 22,800 words.


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Democracy in the 21st Century

In December 2015 I attended “Democracy in the 21st Century”, an international conference at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina —the library on the site of the iconic ancient one of Alexandria, Egypt.

The challenges facing our planet require that the practice of representative democracy — whether small-scale or large — be made fully representative.

Library director Dr. Ismail Serageldin provided an overview of what transpired during the three days. See his summary, attached.

Of particular interest to me is the use of sortition (random selection) to choose representatives for policy making bodies. David Schecter succinctly presented the virtues and the challenges of this innovation. See his presentation, also attached.

I distributed my short stage play about sortition — “Our Common Lot”. The play had generated lively discussion at a previous staged reading.

I will send a copy of the play to anyone who contributes to Common Lot Productions. Send a check to: 101 Ridgewood Road / Baltimore MD 21210 / USA. Or donate electronically via PayPal on the front page of this website. [Contributions are not tax-exempt.]

No matter how little or how much you consider yourself politically engaged, the need for informed and deliberative ‘voice equality’ pervades all aspects of our lives.

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Irish Constitutional Convention was selected via sortition

The Irish vote for marriage equality started at a constitutional convention. The convention was selected by sortition — by random selection … ensuring dispassionate, informed deliberation by statistically-representative citizenry.

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