Re: POLI: Random democracy

Peter C. McCluskey (
Mon, 24 Feb 1997 22:30:02 -0800 (Robin Hanson) writes:
>"Peter C. McCluskey" writes:
>>Suppose there was a widespread preference for candidates who promise
>>randomness, and that such promises were often enforceable. Would that
>>give candidates an incentive to make such promises? It isn't obvious
>>that the benefits of winning an election after making such a promise
>>exceed the costs of getting elected.
>It's not obvious to me. There are lots of small elections that don't
>cost that much to enter. Maybe you'd need an expensive ad campaign to
>make clear your position the first time someone like this ran, but
>after the first few all you need to say is "random party", and
>everyone should know exactly what you mean. No need for finer policy

But where are the benefits to the candidate? I doubt there are a
lot of elections where the expected salary exceeds the cost of getting
a majority of voters to remember the candidates name (except for
small town governments where the politicians aren't a separate enough
class for their interests to diverge from the voters enough for the
random democracy to matter).

However, you are clearly right that there isn't any passionate
demand for random democracy, which is somewhat contrary to what
you suggest in the "Confidence: A Basic Politics Puzzle" thread.
Indeed, it is hard enough to imagine an average person holding
a strong opinion on random democracy, and I suspect the absence
of selfish motives for supporting random democracy has something
to do with this.

>>Given the frequency with which candidates break promises ("Read my
>>lips ...", "I won't seek a second term", etc.), why would voters
>>expect they could enforce a promise of randomness?
>How about posting a bond that you lose if you break your promise?
>Compared to most political promises, this should be relatively easy to
>verify that it was broken.

Good question. Why isn't this used for the kinds of promises politicians
are making now? There appears to be plenty of demand for the benefits
it would provide, and I can't see any obstacles that deter its use.

Peter McCluskey |                        | "Don't blame me. I voted | | for Kodos." - Homer Simpson |     |