Guest Rant Feb 28, 2023 at 11:30 am

Actually, A Citizens' Assembly Isn't a Bad Idea

Citizen members of the French Citizens’ "Convention on End of Life" at work. CESE



I'm willing to try it. It can't be any worse than what we have now.


Our society is full of people who lack the experience, education, skills, or training necessary to make difficult decisions and reach compromise. Why on earth would we want to purposely put those people in charge?


The dirty but not very sexy secret is that citizens are already empowered to put the best people in power, they just fail to do it over and over again. We don’t need a secret lottery to save us from ourselves, we need to stop buying into the mean girl drama that passes as civic discourse today.

Jeez, why is the entire ideological continuum panning accountability and competency for our governmental institutions?


Expanding on my @2, regarding this comment:

"Citizens are chosen by stratified random selection, creating a miniature representative sample of our society without bias or favor, to rotate into lawmaking bodies, in much the same way as they are selected for juries in our court system."

Jury selection is not, in any way, a stratified random selection leading to an unbiased representative sample of society.

The jury pool is not a broad cross-section of society, but is a distinct subset of the population. For instance, the jury pool for our federal court is comprised solely of registered voters. Persons who are not registered to vote are not selected. Prospective jurors are heavily screened in the voir dire process, in which litigants participating in an adversarial process can eliminate jurors they believe are not suitable through preemptory challenges that require no explanation whatsoever. In addition, litigants and the courts can exclude jurors for cause if a juror is objectively unsuitable. This process is frequently driven by bias, whether conscious or otherwise.


"In Ireland, they are pioneering what is becoming known as the Irish model—tapping citizens’ assemblies to resolve long-simmering controversies."

now Why on Earth
would we wanna Resolve
long-simmering controversies?

might we even configure
a Capitalism that doesn't
always favor the cunning
and the Un-scrupulous?

this is Brilliant, Ansel Herz.
so we'll NEVER do it.


"A vast majority of Americans support ending legal abortion after the first trimester..."

-citation needed


a. FOX 'facts' aren't..
b. brilliant idea.


@5: “ might we even configure
a Capitalism that doesn't
always favor the cunning
and the Un-scrupulous?”

This from the guy who misidentified Scandinavian economies as socialist, when they are in fact capitalist economies, highly regulated by democratically-elected socialist governments. All of it: capitalism, representative democracy, elections — seems to work pretty well there. Given that, what’s the case for these groups of randos to decide things for us?


Ugh, the frothinghamification of slog continues.


@9 -- date quote & url
or it didn't happen

"Given that, what’s the case
for these groups of randos
to decide things for us?"

perhaps they/WE might pull our heads outta our asses and resolve some long-simmering issues and maybe even a few controversies. is That worth a shot?
A. Fuck. Yes.

@ss -- the Wolves*
THANK You for
your Compli-

*the guys
that Fund 'our'
Lawmakers & who also Bought
themselves 'Our' (formerly-) Supreme Court.

@11 -- In Hell They'll
Be In Good Company:


This is an underpants gnomes theory of governance.

The idea that random citizens would be immune from corruption is comical, as is the idea that they would not be swayed by “special interests.” If I have no political career to lose, and no future in politics, even that small restraint on corruption and influence is gone! Next Ansel will be recommend term limits as a good thing.

Want to see what a semi-professional governing class looks like? Look at Olympia.


@12: “— date quote & url
or it didn't happen“

Losing short-term memory, are we? It was less than two weeks ago!

“look how Scandinavia
Suffers so! those
poor Commies!”

Aaand, from that very same thread, my takedown of your obvious mistake:

“Scandinavia does not have Marxist Socialist economies. Scandinavia has capitalist economies with Socialist governments, democratically-elected, which ensure the wealth created by those capitalist economies is more equitably distributed.”


So, did my searing brilliance cause you to forget such a recent smackdown? Do tell.

(I neglected to attribute my description of those capitalist economies with socialist governments to an historian I’d already referenced earlier in that thread: Dr. Norman Davies, again writing in his “Europe: A History.”)

You’re welcome.


13: Excellent points; I’d add that in this day of social media shaming/cancellation (or whatever you want to call it), I’d think you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of folks wanting to make those extremely hard and controversial decisions if they thought they’d be publicly hounded. The polarization Herz laments wouldn’t magically go away.


The bigger problem with this is marginalized people would lose representation. We have heard time and again that we need to center the voices of these communities and if you comprise an assembly based on the demographics of the city it would be overwhelming white (65%) and at least half male based on the last census. Right now the SCC is majority female and BIPOC so you'd be losing ground. Besides isn't that why we have all these community boards and commissions like the Seattle Renters Commission? It's supposed to be doing what this is outlining and then informing the council as part of their decision making process.


Bazinga dear, that's what I said about districts. Look where that got us. Any "peoples assembly" in Seattle would be a disaster. It would be comprised of people who think they're the brightest kid in the room, and who love to hear themselves talk.

SaneSeattle dear, civil rights should never be on any ballot. And the vast majority of Americans want abortion to be between a woman and her physician. It's just the religious neurotics with baby fetishes who care about it.


Ansel? Ansel. Isn’t this the anarcho-libertarian dipshit that interned for The Stranger years back and wrote the stupidest shit the Stranger has ever published?

Still spouting complete fucking nonsense.


Cat baby...."Any "peoples assembly" in Seattle would be a disaster. It would be comprised of people who think they're the brightest kid in the room, and who love to hear themselves talk."

Isn't that what the SCC is today?


Ansel - welcome back to this platform!


@18 and @20 Missed you guys!!! Thanks for reading.



“look how Scandinavia
Suffers so! those
poor Commies!”

so obviously facetious
you're either an idjit
or intellectually
or high

and your self-declared "brilliant takedown"?
too long; couldn't bother.

@21 -- a Citizens Assembly
Excellent Idea!

so what do you say
to the Doubters
gathered here

have you


speaking of 'stupid foreigners!'
and their idiotic notions
I hear they're Coming
over here with their

well let
'em TRY.


Qualifying exam for politicians (and cops):

Do you want to be a politician (cop)?

Answer key:
Yes - unsuitable
No - suitable


bingo grasshopper!
all Volunteers will be shown
the Door and never invited back

you can Qualify ONLY
if you think you're
not Good enough



I remember thinking Ansel's politics a bit odd. Not really libertarian inasmuch as I understand those goofballs, though maybe anarcho-leaning? I dunno. Though I wonder if you're confusing him with Matt Luby, the hardcore anti-goverernment kook they had interning around the time when I first started reading well over a decade ago? This guy...

This guy was absolutely DESPISED by the slog commentariat. More so than Ansel or probably even the notorious Katie Herzog, if such a thing is possible. Definitely kinda fun to go back thru and read comment threads from back in the day, especially when the writers themselves would chime in and defend themselves and their positions, contributing to the debate, as I recall Matt doing on occasion.


@21 LOL. Awesome response.


@22: Nice dodge. The context was Charles defending Marxism against critics who noted it never works in practice. You cited Scandinavian countries, which are actually capitalist democracies, as examples of Marxist-type regimes that did work. You were wrong then, and you’re wrong now.


"You cited Scandinavian countries,
which are actually capitalist
democracies... "

nice try well they're
Social Democracies
like Senator Sanders
is a Social Democrat
as in 'let Society De-
Cide Democratically'

NOT the fucking
Billionaires and a
court run by "chris-
tian" Nationalists. so
Which one'd you favor?

the word 'Marxist'
wasn't included
silly boy.


not by Me anyways.


@29, @30: No, you were only commenting in a thread where the entire point of the headline post was to ignore the colossal failures of Marxist systems. Context matters.

And you can yell all the attempted schoolyard insults you want, but Scandinavian countries will still have capitalist economies, not Marxist ones, and those capitalist economies are very well-regulated by some of the exact same “bourgeois democracies” which Marxists loathe. (Yes, of course those are social democracies; no one here has argued otherwise, although you seem dedicated to persisting in your delusion that someone has.)

Thank you for both emphasizing the value of elected democratic governments, and for personally providing an example of why we should never, ever convene a citizens’ council to decide anything.


@31, lol The Strangers comment section as a citizen council; absolutely terrifying!


@26. That guy was an idiot. But so is this little trust fund shit bag. He was one of those “both political parties are same” “all government is coercive and illegitimate” anarchist LARPers. Just a despicable gas lighting shit bag. I wonder how many times in 2016 he was taking the vocal principled position on how Hillary was a fascist?

Anyway. The Stranger is reeeeeallly barrel scraping for clickbait if their bringing these anarchist wannabe dipshits back. I guarantee you they’re debating Hertzog, too. If they’re willing to entertain this intellectual lightweight.


@24 Bingo!

@28 Thanks....that was a great read! 420 comments is a great number.

Also @28....I love Katie Herzog. Her columns made heads explode which was very entertaining. Her "Blocked and Reported" podcast is also fun. She is probably the most successful ex-TS writer ever.


@33 you really need to talk to your doctor about upping your meds.


@26: “This guy was absolutely DESPISED by the slog commentariat. More so than Ansel or probably even the notorious Katie Herzog, if such a thing is possible.”

Well, yeah: he took material barely suitable for late-night bull sessions in some undergrad dorm, and waved it around in public, where actual adults could see it. Of course they were pissed at his having wasted their time. The Stranger’s business model at the time (print-based ad revenues) didn’t support this, so he was toast.

Herzog was delightfully described (by commenter davidjw, if I recall properly) as a “clickbait troll artist,” which she gloriously was. By that time, clickbait was (and is) the Stranger’s business model, so they kept her around for awhile. (Of course, that’s why the main offerings here are what used to be intern nonsense.)


Why not have a random group of people run Seattle? Maybe it will work better than our experiment with having Women of Color run the city (and one lesbian mayor. And one former gay predator mayor). If we are just going to elect people because of what they are, regardless of their ability or perceived "deserving" to hold office because it's an exciting new idea, what could possibly go wrong? Oh right, the last 8 years.


@36: This approach to Seattle's gov't and The Stranger go hand in hand:

"Well, yeah: he took material barely suitable for late-night bull sessions in some undergrad dorm, and waved it around in public, where actual adults could see it. Of course they were pissed at his having wasted their time."

And it's all come full circle.

I'd like to think that Matt is truly going away, but he will be back. Wasting everyone's time with biased, ill informed nonsense that we will tolerate for whatever self-loathing reason. Bye Matt! See you back soon, queen!


@32, @39: Yeah, in Seattle the Citizens’ Assembly would consist of GoodSpaceGuy, Mike the Mover, Stan Lippmann, Alex Tsimerman, several Slog commenters, and all the recent failed Council and Mayoral candidates. What could possibly go wrong?


wouldn't it be Funny
if 'Intractable'

would Love to be there*
at Town Hall but I Bet
they'll Record it for

*'On Friday, March 3 at 7:30 pm, DemocracyNext Founder and CEO Claudia Chwalisz, one of the world’s foremost experts on Citizens Assemblies, will speak at Town Hall in conversation with Marcus Green and Brandi Kruse.'

Thanks Ansel!


@37: Back in the ‘90s, when all nine of the City Council positions were city-wide, there was a period under then-Mayor Rice where all nine positions were held by either women, persons of color, or both. No white guys. That was a great time in Seattle, and whether the composition of the Council had anything to do with those good times or not, the Council at least didn’t lie to voters and actively make things worse. There was nothing in the performance of that diverse Council which suggested the diverse Council of the past decade would be the disaster it has been.

Whatever you might think of “things that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn’t happen,” to quote Seattle’s current mayor, Ed Murray brought a strong record of accomplishment to the Mayor’s Office. When he was first elected to the state legislature, the LGBTQ community in Washington state did not have statewide civil-rights protections, and the Republican-controlled legislature actually worked overtime to ban the non-existent gay marriage. By the time he retired to run for mayor, full civil rights protections extended statewide, and gay marriage had been ratified by popular vote. Seattle’s voters chose someone for mayor who had persistently and consistently delivered results for them.

By contrast, what had Mike O’Brien, Kshama Sawant, or Lorena Gonzalez done prior to election? Had any of them ever actually accomplished anything? There are activists who actually obtain tangible results, and then there are activists who only ever organize “look at me” events. O’Brien, with his kayak, and Sawant, with her bullhorn, were of the latter type. Unsurprisingly, they ultimately engendered revulsion in the constituencies they were supposedly serving. O’Brien was a white guy, Sawant an immigrant woman of color, yet each governed poorly, and each wound up quitting ahead of losing.


As has been mentioned by others, and links provided several times on this venue, the crime rate in Seattle was much worse in the 80s and 90s than your rose-colored, MAGA-ish inspired Better Times fantasy would have us all believe.

Qualified candidates, regardless of race, class, creed, sexual vagueness should obviously be considered. But simply running on those factors, and getting elected by pie-eyed progressive Ideals has shown that it's no way to run a city. KRIEG has an article this morning on the very sort of person who thinks "Why not me?" Because you're not qualified? Can you do the job or is it just posturing symbolism? GoodSpaceGuy and Mike the Mover are the flipside examples of delusional wannabe politicians who have no business running a major city. How much of this sophomoric nonsense do you have see to admit the problem?


Addendum: And this article inadvertently points out that a random group of strangers could run the city better than the Women of Color Ishasaki so vehemently defended in the ST the week before last. So we're going to double down on having the city run by people who have no business managing Seattle? Simply because of what they are instead of their qualifications? Stoopid....


But then how could the suburban interests get us to waste our tax dollars on Downtown and car-oriented planning?

Think of the Billionaires, people!

They don't pay taxes, so they should have all the say.


@46: Nationwide, the crime rate dropped precipitously in the mid-‘90s, coincidentally around the time Seattle elected a white-guy-free Council and Mayor. The later ‘90s in Seattle were also the go-go time of the first tech’ boom, so again there’s little reason to believe Seattle’s voters did anything special to deserve it. My point was merely that diverse Councils have governed both well and poorly in Seattle at different times, perhaps because of what you implied: recently, diversity has become the sole criterion for choosing elected officials, especially by the Stranger.

I asked whether three Council specific members from the last decade had ever done anything useful to justify their elections, and I’ll interpret the resulting silence as confirmation for what my question implied.

Please wait...

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