Democracy beyond elections – Terry Bouricius has a conversation with Democracy Creative

Former Vermont politician, globally renowned democracy theorist, and ballroom dancer Terry Bouricius has a discussion with the Democracy creative here.

A snippet of the conversation:

That's one thing that I did learn as a politician: deliberation is not something politicians do. Deliberation requires you to have an open mind, absorb new information, and seek the best outcome. Politicians have run on a platform where they’ve made certain commitments. They dare not change their point of view, because then they're called somebody who's flip-flopping, or a sell-out. The goal of politicians is to show that the other side is corrupt, evil or incompetent. Quite frankly, preparing for the next election is what governing is about. To maintain power.

I saw that firsthand in the state legislature. Now Vermont's not a particularly corrupt place, it's not at the height of partisanship. But still, as a politician, when the other side would bring forward a bill on an issue that I knew about, my first priority was to figure out what was wrong with it, and how I could show that the other side was stupid, or foolish, or corrupt, even for proposing that bill! That's what I had to do, because we had to prepare the ground for the next election so that we can maintain power.

Politicians always say, well, if I can't stay in power, then I can't do anything. Staying in power is the most important priority. There's never any deliberation. That debate on the floor is showmanship, it's about presentation. And vilifying the opposition. So ever since I saw the citizens’ assembly in British Columbia, my political work has shifted to promoting sortition, i.e the use of civic lotteries, to create randomly-selected juries of ordinary citizens who make democratic policy decisions, instead of relying on elections.

 

You can watch the entire discussion below or click here for the transcript!

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