How can a representative democracy work, without the risk of corruption, subversion, and tedious partisan behavior we see at present? A couple of observations take us part of the way to a solution, and a final clue takes us the rest of the way.
First impressions – at least in my experience, turned out to be fairly accurate. Of three candidates to which I had first-hand exposure, the two I liked did very well. The third I did not trust, voted against, and turned out later to be corrupt.
Local elections – when the number of voters per candidate is fewer, you have a better chance of direct exposure, and partisan politics seems to disappear. The limit seems to be around a few thousand voters per representative.
For a long time, I was stuck at this point. I firmly believe local elections are a pretty good filter – but tens of thousands of representatives voting in Congress seems excessive – and possibly prone to other bad behaviors. How can we reduce that number to a more manageable level, without allowing corruption or subversion in the selection?
Demarchy – provided the last clue I needed to complete a scalable solution. The Wikipedia article describes a number of alternatives I do not find interesting. You do not want average citizens (or less) as your representatives. You want your representatives to be a bit better than average. The trick is to come up with a filter without bias and not vulnerable to corruption or subversion. Local elections seem to make an excellent filter for selecting above-average folk. Random assignment of roles gets you appropriate-sized numbers of folk in each role.
Use local elections to select above-average representatives. Randomly assign representatives to roles in city, county, state, and national government. Candidate representatives would not know ahead of time to which role they would be assigned. I suspect the optimal number is one representative for every 1,000 to 5,000 citizens. (Small numbers of citizens per representative would mean some elected representatives would not be assigned roles.)
If we are electing one representative per thousand citizens, I suspect the average capability of those folk is going to be pretty high. If the United States had 300,000 elected representatives (likely not all with assigned roles), then the traditional sorts of subversion or corruption are much more difficult.
Demarchy without filtering would net us representatives of only average ability. Combining very-local elections with Demarchy could net us very high levels of ability without bias of corruption in the selection.
There are other details to be nailed down – but I rather like this combined solution.
The question is – how do we get there from here?