FAQ  

1. Is Tribunocracy an achievable goal?

The gradual introduction of Tribunocracy is possible because it does not require rapid unachievable changes. When first exposed to Tribunocracy the most common reaction is opposition. This is because individuals think the present election system is virtually sacred, supporting it is a virtue, and changing it almost treasonous.   Additionally they believe their individual vote is valuable has a meaningful effect. Therefore giving it up would reduce their personal power to participate in self governance by taking away their opportunity to cast a single vote in common elections.  Likewise, they rightly see the risk of entrusting crucially important maters to a new and untested system. When the difficulty of convincing others to embrace Tribunocracy is added on top of those concerns  they conclude the change required to adopt Tribunocracy is unachievable.

Tribunocracy can be introduced and tested incrementally in small non threatening situations. For example, Tribunal Conventions might make selections for things not now determined by mass public elections.  For example in many cities the City Manager is an appointed position. therefore having a tribunal convention select a City Manager would not entail a great risk or require citizens to relinquish existing direct voting power.  This would also be true for appointed judges.  Even were Judges are now elected many voters acknowledge they do not have adequate information to make an informed choice, and do not cherish the right to vote on judges.  In some elections less than half of the voters casting ballots vote for most of the judges.  Therefore, experimentally utilizing Tribunocracy to select such Judges is an achievable first step.  Once Tribunocracy is observed and its advantages are witnessed, citizens will slowly grow more supportive of its increase use.

2. Would quickly adopting Tribunocracy be prudent?

No, initially implementing Tribunocracy for major elections and referendum before it is experienced, tested, refined, and observed to function successfully would be imprudent. However it should be noted that Tribunocracy utilizes many of the practices and procedures employed in the well tested, refined, and proven jury trial system.

3. What is a possible slow path to Tribunocracy?

In time with observation of Tribunocracy's advantages and its functionality will become more apparent. It may be realized that an individual vote is usually of such a trivial token value, that the chance to serve as a Tribune (especially in the larger number of smaller local elections) may provide a vastly more valuable chance of personal participation compared to casting a single vote in a mass election. Additionally Tribunal Conventions provide new more meaningful opportunity for citizens not selected as Tribunes to participate. For example, citizens may gather signatures that can be used to "earn" minutes of speaking time for special issues at the Tribunal Convention. Tribunal Conventions will provide citizens the opportunity to submit or vote via internet or texting question or comments they would like presented at the Tribunal Convention.

If only a tiny part of the energy and expense now expended on making less significant improvements, is directed towards initial small experiments with Tribunocracy, its will gain momentum and be seem as increasingly less threatening and more plausible alternative.

4. Why risk experimenting with the present election process?

Some think improving our society is so complicated that it will require a formula delivered by aliens wiser than us, and be so complicated that we can not discover it out ourselves.. Others think that improvement will require a basic change in human nature; which historically has been about as likely as delivery by aliens. Some think that they can keep their old cherished beliefs and practices without giving up a single one, and yet achieve meaningful improvement. If one thinks democratic elections work so well they don’t need improvement, they will not see a reason to risk changing them. If you want something better you must be willing to at least experiment by changing something, which can’t be done unless you let go of something else.

A tightly closed hand may keep what’s in it, but it can’t grasp anything new. Those that cherish democracy must be willing to loosen their emotional grip on its present form, in order to give it a chance to improve.  What should be cherished above the value of an individual vote is: informed democratic self rule by ordinary citizens given the time and tools required. The value of an individual vote is usually infinitesimal, and even when carefully and wisely cast by an informed individual is easily overwhelmed by casual votes cast by totally uninformed or misinformed individuals. Tribunocracy is structured to increase the effectiveness of intelligent informed democratic self rule by ordinary citizens.

5. Will Tribunocracy ever become an important part of democratic  government?

Yes, it has been said: "nothing is as strong as an idea whose time has come".  Nicole Bore said that the majority of Physicists would not accept quantum theory until the generation that grew up with only classical physics had died and was replaced with a new generation.  Likewise, I don't believe the majority of citizens who grew up in a world were the present classical form of mass public voting was the only respected democratic option, will relinquish there reverence for it as the best not to be compromised option.  It will only be a generation that grows up in a world were Tribunocracy practiced and seen to function, (even if only in limited special situations) that will be comfortable seeing its use expanded to largely superseded conventional elections by mass mobocracy style voting.

6. Why now?

Isaac Asimov offered in his science fiction, the theory that sociological-political-economic forces have inevitable consequences.  Agriculture inevitably leads to land ownership, property rights and more advanced government. Better faster electronic communications, will also have consequences.

Before these technical advancements Tribunocracy may not have been a viable alternative. For example, if electronic media did not allow unrestricted real time observation of the public portions of the Tribunal Conventions there may have been insufficient transparency for it to be understood and trusted. The chance for real time participation and vicarious involvement may also be necessary to help emotionally motivate individuals to relinquishing their less meaningful individual vote.

The growing dissatisfaction with the present election process, including the increasing roll of money, shallow advertising, and uninformed or misinformed voting, may open the door for experimentation with alternative elections systems. The purpose of proselytizing Tribunocracy now, is to bring it about sooner rather than later

7. When?

In the next few hundred years its adoption is inevitable. Personally I will be satisfied to see serious public discussion and a few real world experiments with Tribunocracy during my lifetime. I hope my children's and grand children's world will be a better place because of Tribunocracy. Growing dissatisfaction with the present democratic election practices and the results it produces,system and the lack of any truly meaningful alternatives highlight the need for Tribunocracy's introduction.

8. How and why did you think of Tribunocracy?

When I was managing a legal research company  a senior editor asked me to give the researchers who were working for him, time of work so they could vote in the local San Francisco elections.

In the debate that ensued he argued that surly I would be taking of time to vote, so I should extend the same opportunity to our employees. When I stated I was not planning to vote, he elaborated on how important the vote was going to be. He said that there were a lot of important referendum to be decided in that election. I agreed there were important issues, but explained that I did not have the time to follow the debate and learn enough about these referendum  to allow me to make an intelligent decision.

He challenged me saying if I agreed the issues were important I should be willing to invest the necessary effort to make an informed decision. I responded that if I were allowed to make the decision this would be true, and I would be willing to invest the required time and energy. However, I pointed out that my individual vote was of such a trivial value that it did not warrant my effort. His reply was: "If your so smart why don't you think of a better system instead of just complaining" (I ended up letting everyone of to vote...not because it made any sense in terms of the election, even if every one of our employees voted exactly the same I would be more likely to be hit by lightening on my way home that day, than they would be to change the election outcome. ) Letting them off to vote, was the correct decision for our company's employee moral.  However, I did take his challenge to heart. Tribunocracy was the eventual result.

9. What is the best single argument in favor of Tribunocracy? 

If a person is accused of even a very minor crime, in our country it is a most fundamental legal and ethical principal that the accused, they are entitled to a trial. At the trial, a jury will hear all the evidence against the person. The defense will question all the witnesses, present all the evidence and arguments in defense. The jury would make a decision only after they had heard all of this.

If I were to propose that someone's guilt or innocence be decided by a public vote, most would readily see the irrational and unfair outcomes that could easily arise. This bad situation would be even worse if everyone was told it was their right and duty to vote even if they hadn't had the interest or opportunity to hear all of the important facts. Just such a democratic vote is what sentenced Socrates to death in Athens.

Electing a representative or voting on a referendum is important enough to justify as much care as deciding whether or not a minor crime was committed by one individual. If everyone is entitled to pick the president of this country by what they might see on TV, read in the news paper or hear other people say, why should they not be able to decide your guilt or innocence in a public vote? The single most compelling argument in favor of Tribunocracy is that the minimal process that we insist on in deciding guilt or innocence in a minor criminal matter, is the least we should require, when electing an important official or voting on an important referendum.

10. Is Tribunocracy constitutional?

I believe technically and functionally it complies with both the letter and spirit of the constitution. Where individual votes do not now directly determine election outcome this will not even be an issue. For example, selecting officers not now elected by public voting such as some judges and city managers.
Under the Constitution most decisions are delegated to elected representatives. For example representatives vote as a proxy for every citizen on war, taxes and most laws. An indirect process that employs delegation is not undemocratic or unconstitutional. Our Constitution provides Representative Democracy not Direct Democracy.
An important part of our democracy is that citizens  directly determine the quilt or innocence in criminal trials. However, they don't exercise this power as part of a massive mob, but rater individual citizens are selected as proxies for the rest of the citizens.  The electoral college technically acts as proxy for all the citizens and these proxies vote on the President.  Tribunocracy operates in essentially the same way.
Because Tribunes are selected at random from all the eligible potential voters who are willing to serve, equal protection requirements are fulfilled.

11. What would the Founding Fathers think of Tribunocracy?

Because it achieves some of the goals of the Electoral College I think they would approve.  More importantly, the Founding Fathers were in their time progressive agents of change, they created a new system better than the old.  If not, they might have supported King George, opposed change, and we would still be a part of the English empire.  They were not afraid to try something new and hopefully better than what had existed in the past.  Trying Tribunocracy will honor their spirit than trying to rigidly preserve an unchangeable status quo.


12. Is Tribunocracy the end point for democracy? 

No. Tribunocracy even as now offered will probably need to be modified and refined based on experience. Additionally, progress and changing circumstances will likely eventually make Enshrinement is like entombment. Systems need to change in order to grow. Today Tribunocracy offers the kind of systemic improvement in democracy that the world need now.

13 . Why did you summarize Tribunocracy in a Poem? 

Some, say I wrote in verse, to be perverse.  But, I wrote in rhyme to same the reader time.

Email question or comments to:  firstspeaker@tribunocracy.org

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