The Wall Street Protests should be seen a bellwether, warning us of coming political change. It must be the impetus for us to seriously consider if the time is not right for major governmental reform, that we carefully review this machinery of decision-making in such a spirit that our freedoms be safeguarded, that a more perfect union be always foremost in our minds.
Considering the high degree of popular dissatisfaction that has been building, could it be that the need for professional politicians has ceased to become an effective means of governance?
And if so, what may we do about it?
People world-wide are rapidly changing their perception of power and politics, and for the first time see themselves as an interacting part of the process rather than a divorced, ineffective entity with no part to play other than obey the political structure that confronts them.
Political apathy is in now in the process of rapidly being overthrown, almost exclusively due to the major paradigm shift brought about by the advent of the cell phone and the internet.
The World is on the cusp of major political changes, the like of which has never existed.
Populations attempting to effect an overthrow of antiquated systems repeatedly face the problem that they are unable to gather en masse to hammer out important decisions, such as the distribution of resources, human rights, etc. In short, a striving for an equitable government of equals.
Tragically, what has typically happened in the past is a post revolution vacuum created by an inability of the populous to stabilize a system of self-governance, which inevitably allows for strongmen or despots to fill the void.
We have already witnessed the revolutions that are spreading like fire across the Middle East starting to become prone to the above mentioned ills.
The spontaneous popular eruptions of discontent in the United States are manifestations of a citizenry that is becoming more sophisticated than the government is presently capable of managing. Because of this is, we urgently need positive solutions at hand.
The need for political representatives is an unquestioned device of rule that we have inherited throughout history.
Due to the limitations of time and distance, any free citizenry needed to approach effective decision-making by using political representation in a physically centralized government, a system in which individuality was severely hampered by both time and space. However, with today's revolutionary system of communications, does that need be a problem any more?
There are four main disadvantages in using the antiquated system of electing politicians as a means of representation.
Firstly, an elected representative cannot possibly represent the multifaceted opinions of any individual. A political representative in the best of circumstances is flawed by their own personal imposition of views that must necessarily deviate from the individuality of the electorate.
Secondly, imbued with the power of the citizenry, the selected representative is prone to corruptible influences that are at odds with their electorate.
Thirdly, the elected politician is always prey to placing self preservation before the needs of constituents.
Finally, human nature being what it is, the greatest danger to a republican democracy is the accumulation individual political power.
Is there an alternative to this dangerously unstable means of managing national resources, and may this not be the time to reconsider how we govern ourselves?
Needless to say, any alterations in the machinery of governance ought to be carefully considered before implementation. A gradual change through trial and error with a built-in ability to retrace steps would be vital. As with any major change, it would seem prudent to only gradually let go of the reigns.
Many safeguards need to be inherent in a revised political system, such avoiding the tyranny of the majority. Indeed, there are a plethora of roadblocks to take into consideration, but that does not mean we cannot start remaking an overview of the political animal.
The electronic communication revolution that now envelops the World, may also be the very solution that would allow for a greater representation of the individual within our citizenry.
Might we not benefit from constitutionally approved of 'Roberts Rules of Order' software for our governance?
Imagine an effective scalable software for very large groups of online people to get together, voice their opinions, discuss, debate - and most important - formulate solutions and agreements. A functionality that would not be dissimilar to Wikipedia, a self-correcting, electorate-managed system, where the no group with an agenda can wrest control.
To assure that the software is successfully formulated, it could in effect run as an a 'shadow government', paralleling problems that governmental institutions face and proposing possible alternative solutions.
The media would likely start paying close attention to such an online process, because the results would be propagated by a mass of individuals, rather than endowed talking heads and politicians.
Imagine this decision making software is up and running, and you want to participate in a particular political issue. For the sake of argument, let us assume it is a new issue and people are just starting to log in to debate. First, the issue needs to be clearly defined, and that is the first page you come to. The issue page is dynamic and subject to change by the participants, much like a Wikipedia entry.
Next, you go into discussion. This works very much on the lines of 'Google+ Circles' "Hangout": Let's say each circle consists of thirteen individuals so there can be no tie vote. These are in video contact. Citizens are randomly thrown together as they access the server(s). The volume of circles is scalable, so you may have thousands of individuals discussing the same issue, although each circle contains the same amount of individuals. The Circles have a 'circulating chairman' built in, so no individual, or group of individuals can dominate the direction of the circle discussion/debate.
If an individual simply has to leave because they are out of time or feel alienated, they can opt out and return, joining into a new circle. When that happens, a joining member has the option of dropping in, thus retaining the quorum. Poll votes in the discussion can be reviewed by the newcomer, bringing them up to date. Trolls and flamers can be bounced by a specified majority vote. That account will be penalized in some form or other, at least removing them from the subject of discussion at that point in time.
The end result is a specific proposition or a set of propositions that are hammered out and voted on, the results appearing much like that of an online poll. If you are the first circle to make the proposal(s) and/or decision(s), the wording and polling results become available for all the proceeding circles to see, plus the procedure of the debate/discussion. Citizens can also see how many circles there are at any given moment. This allows for continuity, in that successive circles can use the same, or alter polling wording as they choose. As the circles report in, their polls are combined together, producing the final result.
Finally, a participant coming into the server can at any time skip to the chase: They can observe the debates, the polls, and vote without going through the debate and discussion. The polls are never closed, they are continually dynamic. If some decision turns out to be a bad idea, the implementation can be reversed.
The justified fear of hacking and subverting the forum would be ever present, but you will notice that such considerations have not stopped the conservative and cautious commercial interests from using the internet to realize large secure financial profits. Why should not we, the people, benefit in the same manner?
I realize that this sketch may not look anything like any finalized end-result, but one has to start somewhere and I wanted to whet your imagination.
In that spirit, I would love to read any and all feedback.