Back at the Hannah Arendt Center

I visited the annual conference at the Hannah Arendt center this year, and it was amazing. I realized how much has changed since three years ago when I first went. I have learned to ask more of myself and others, and I think this conference had a stronger sense of urgency and purpose. I didn’t see familiar faces, but I was pleased to meet many new ones. I knew some of what to expect, but also knew not to rely on expectations. The speakers were engaging, and I learned so much about something I didn’t even know was a concept until weeks before I went. The theme of the conference was “Revitalizing Democracy: Focusing on Sortition, Citizen Power, and Spaces of Freedom”. I felt ahead of the conference that this was an excellent topic, due to its boldness, history, and implementation today. The concept of sortition in current politics is  seen as radical, but it’s been around since ancient Greece.  Sortition refers to  a randomized system of government. Instead of tedious campaigns and elections, people are chosen for the government through random sampling. It’s like how jury’s are picked in the U.S., except on a much larger scale. In Ireland, sortition was used in practice with the Irish government. The Irish Citizen’s assembly made proposals on policies, and the Irish government responded. The beauty of it was that real Irish citizens were able to speak up and be heard, and government officials listened. I got to hear from people that worked directly with this successful experiment, as well as people right here in America that are going to try such programs. It was amazing to be at the forefront of change, discussing this topic and it’s real applications.  I look forward to attending next years conference, and appreciating all the people and ideas it offers.

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