Stop having elections in the United States, writes Adam Grant in The New York Times. Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, proposes using sortition (random lottery) instead of elections to select government officials, including presidents, legislators, governors, and judges.
Experiments show groups make better decisions when leaders are chosen randomly rather than through elections or based on skills, writes Grant. Randomly chosen leaders are more democratic and feel a greater sense of responsibility.
Elections tend to favor candidates with narcissistic, Machiavellian, and psychopathic traits, who can be dangerous leaders. Any system that allows someone like George Santos, Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Ted Cruz to win is broken. A lottery would make it less likely for these types to gain power.
Lotteries would also give equal opportunity to all citizens regardless of status or wealth, eliminate gerrymandering and disputes over the Electoral College, and save money and reduce corruption.
Under Grant's proposal, anyone who can pass a civics test like the ones immigrants take to qualify for citizenship would be eligible to put their name in the lottery pool.
From the piece:
In a study of elections worldwide, candidates who were rated by experts as having high psychopathy scores actually did better at the ballot box. In the United States, presidents assessed as having psychopathic and narcissistic tendencies were more persuasive with the public than their peers. A common explanation is that they're masters of fearless dominance and superficial charm, and we mistake their confidence for competence. Sadly, it starts early: Even kids who display narcissistic personality traits get more leadership nominations and claim to be better leaders. (They aren't.)
If the dark triad wins an election, we all lose. When psychologists rated the first 42 American presidents, the narcissists were more likely to take reckless risks, make unethical decisions and get impeached. Add a dash of Machiavellianism and a pinch of psychopathy, and you get autocrats like Putin, Erdogan, Orban and Duterte.
Eliminate voting, and candidates with dark triad traits would be less likely than they are now to rise to the top. Of course, there's also a risk that a lottery would deprive us of the chance to select a leader with distinctive skills. At this point, that's a risk I'm willing to take.