So I was station surfing on the car radio and stumbled on an interview with Brett Hennig on NPR's Ted Radio Hour. He had an idea that is tantalizingly simple. In a word, it's Sortition, defined at wikipedia as "the selection of political officials as a random sample from a larger pool of candidates."
Here's an example of how it works. (From the the NPR show found here: Brett Hennig: Should We Replace Politicians With Random Citizens? Link goes to transcript.) To wit:
HENNIG: This seemingly absurd idea is actually based on hundreds of experiments worldwide where this actually happens and happens well. Ireland is the most recent country to have randomly selected 99 people to talk about their constitutional ban on abortion, to talk about how they can tackle climate change, to talk about other things like fixed-term parliaments.
This 99 randomly selected sample of people went through weekends of deliberation informed by experts with public input into that process, and they came up with the proposal, supported by around two-thirds of them, to abolish this constitutional ban on abortion, which was then put to a referendum, and about two-thirds of the Irish people agreed with them. If these people are so good at it, why do we still need politicians?
He explained the weak point common with currently existing democracies:
HENNIG: Elections produce people who are good at winning elections. And to be good at winning an election, you need a massive war chest of money. You need to be charismatic. You need to be able to inspire people with ridiculous tweets - I'm not sure. But it doesn't mean that you're good at making policy, at lawmaking.
So I would actually argue that a random representative sample with good process informed by experts who, of course, don't have power - they just have the power to give information - would result in better policy. Of course, you would potentially need these people to go through an induction process where they learn about how the system goes or how lawmaking is made, et cetera.
The other option - that we hand over the running of our country to a group of experts - is exactly what authoritarian regimes argue. China, in theory, is run by groups of experts.
Federalism in the U.S. provides us with 50 laboratories. California is renowned as the great experimenter, so there's a good project for them to try. Unfortunately, it would require the politicians currently in power to relinquish some of that power. And that's difficult to imagine.
5:54 AM 10/14/2018