The Ancient Greeks had a better system.

The Founding Fathers did the best they could in a volatile atmosphere that required some less than palatable compromises. The result has been partisan bickering. Today the big money two-party media circus is threatening to tear our beloved country apart.

Everybody acknowledges the need for reform to the electoral process, but no consensus can be reached on which parts or how. The Democrats want to eliminate the electoral college and reduce voting restrictions so that every knucklehead who isn’t living in a tree can have an equal say in picking our representatives. The Republicans want to restrict access to the ballot box in order to counter-act those egalitarian sentiments.

We can’t have it both ways, and the two biggest parties are hell-bent on rabble rousing in a never-ending battle that now has escalated to the brink of overt hostility. People on both sides of the divide refer to this as nothing less than a war. The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn. Smart people are building fall-out shelters.

The constitution should protect us, but that’s where we run into a major snag. The Founding Fathers built a necessary compromise into the system. Research of the Elections Clause at the National Constitution Center reveals the embedded flaw. The states make all the rules, but the final authority and the ability to change those rules lies with the federal government. The party that controls the White House and the Congress wins the battle, but the war continues.

The power to regulate congressional elections, subject to federal oversight, lies with the state legislatures, but the Supreme Court has interpreted the term “Legislature” to include any entity or procedure that a state’s constitution permits to exercise lawmaking power. A few blue states have chosen to transfer power to draw congressional district lines to non-partisan or bipartisan “independent redistricting commissions.” Thus election rules in those states may be enacted directly by a state’s voters through the initiative process or public referendum

Red states are pitted against the blue.

Proposed: Let’s de-escalate.

For instance, the ancient Greeks used technology to insure that all points of view were represented but also introduced an element of randomization to the actual selection process. The machine they used was called a kleroterion, and it selected office holders and jurists from a pool of volunteers. The full spectrum of opinions was guaranteed, because each tribe filled a single column of the kleroterion with identifying citizen tokens, called pinakia. Imagine rows and columns of volunteers. All tribes were represented in each row. The machine randomly eliminated some rows, but soon landed on a row. In ancient Greece, those volunteers became the representatives. These citizens’ assemblies drafted, debated, and passed laws; made major foreign policy decisions; and controlled military budgets.

No need to squabble. All tribes were equally represented, but the final selections were made by fate, or by the gods if you will.

In the United States today, the kleroterion might have a column for Democrats, one for Republicans, and a third for all of us moderates and independents. Bipartisanship would be insured. No further need for argumentation.

Citizens’ assemblies are already making a comeback today. Both France and the UK convened citizen assemblies to draft measures to address climate change. Citizens’ assemblies in Ireland have led to changes to the Irish constitution which legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.

One further note: Technology in 2021 has improved on the kleroterion. A team at the John Paulson school of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard has designed an assembly selection process that satisfies representation and fairness simultaneously. You can read more in a paper published in Nature, Aug 4, 2021.

The Harvard team tested a two-stage assembly selection process. First a pool of qualified volunteers must be generated. Then an algorithm is applied to randomly select a panel in which all points of view are equally represented.

This open-source algorithm has already been used to select more than 40 citizens’ assemblies around the world, by organizations in countries including Denmark, Germany, the U.S., Belgium, and the UK.

Would there still be disagreements. Yes, but they wouldn’t be at the ballot box.