Democracy in Crisis is a special online series of global roundtable discussions about the use of randomly-selected citizen assemblies to further democracy. Democracy in Crisis is produced by Ahmed Teleb, Brian Standing, the 8 O’Clock Buzz and WORT-FM.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s western-style democracy appeared ascendant and inevitable. U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush hailed events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union as heralding a New World Order, based on democracy and global capitalism. But the last thirty years have seen, not an expansion of democracy, but a rebirth of authoritarianism. Across the globe, electoral fraud, political corruption, disenfranchisement of political minorities and the specter of fascism now seem the rule rather than the exception. In 2017, the London-based Economist Democracy Index hit its lowest score ever, including the downgrading of the United States from a “Full Democracy” to a “Flawed Democracy.” Today, we start a three-part series, Democracy in Crisis, which will explore the failures of our current electoral system and perhaps, provide some hope for an alternative model. Joining WORT host Brian Standing are:
- Dr. Roslyn Fuller trained in law before writing her PhD in Democracy and International Law at Trinity College, Dublin. She frequently writes and lectures on issues pertaining to technology, ancient and modern democracy, privacy and international law, with her work appearing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Financial Times, BBC, The Nation, and Forbes. She is the author of five books, including Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose and In Defence of Democracy (recently a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards). She ran as an Independent on a platform of direct digital democracy in the 2016 Irish national elections, and is the Managing Director of the Solonian Democracy Institute.
- Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Prior to returning to Harvard, he taught at Stanford Law School, where he founded the Center for Internet and Society. Lessig is the founder of Equal Citizens and a founding board member of Creative Commons. His books include: They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy, Fidelity & Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution, America, Compromised and Republic, Lost v2.
- Alex Kovner, author of The Jurga System, is a mathematician, data scientist and author of The Sortition Manifesto. He blogs on democratic lotteries or sortition at alexkovner.com.
- Brett Hennig co-founded and is a director of the Sortition Foundation, which campaigns to institute the use of stratified, random selection (also called sortition) in government. His book, The End of Politicians: Time for a Real Democracy, has been called “a book for visionaries” by New Internationalist contributing editor James Kelsey-Fry. Hennig has given many talks promoting sortition and has contributed a chapter, “Who needs elections? Accountability, Equality, and Legitimacy under Sortition” to the book Legislature by Lot: Transformative Designs for Deliberative Governance.