Liquid democracy is an interesting idea, and quite pleasing to my analytical developer. However, we can’t just be ready to implement a thing on the merit of the idea, we need to prove it works first. Representative democracy (despite its flaws) has been proven to work.
I’m willing to bet, for a nation, liquid democracy will never work. Here is why:
- At a surface level, the vote is not given to those with merit, it is given to those who are popular. Taylor Swift would have more votes then a Stephan Hawking or an Abraham Lincoln. The argument for liquid democracy would be the popular people who have emassed an insane number of votes would delegate out further. In most scenarios this would likely happen… but what about when it doesn’t? What happens when Taylor Swift personally feels very strongly on an issue that experts advise against?
- Liquid democracy also allows a dictatorship to rise. If a single person has 51% of the votes in a nation, they can single handedly make all governmental decisions. With this power, the dictator can also make it very difficult to remove themselves from power. As we have seen in the past, dictators often have popular support, even if what they do seems terrible to history.
- Delegation is reactive, not proactive. The article says that vote delegation is an act of trust, well that implies at some point the trust is broken. There is provided no mechanism for the voters to stop their delegates from a vote which they do not support, the voter may only change who has their voting power once the vote has been cast.
- What about recursive votes? Let’s say person A delegates the vote to person B who delegates their vote to person C who delegates their vote to person A! Where does the vote go? How does it break the technology put in place to allow for liquid democracy?
- On a national scale, the technology is not ready. What a lot of people not actively engaged in the tech industry don’t realize is that not every problem can be solved perfectly by technology. Our tech will always be just as flawed as humans ourselves, just in different ways. There are many roadblocks to this technology, but the biggest one is ease of access. Any Joe with a computer can vote as someone else (against their will) or potentially hack into the database. Not to mention the maintenance nightmare. Having to maintain a system for voting on a daily basis will require a huge team that can never be picked by just delegates, and who is to say that team can’t alter the vote in any way themselves.
- What are the incentives for full time governmental work? For there to be domain experts, they need to be compensated for their work. Who compensates them? Large businesses who effectively “buy” their vote on important issues to themselves?
- What’s to stop people from selling their vote? The highest bidder will get the majority vote and get to bypass delegates entirely. And if someone starts paying people to vote on an issue, why ever vote if there is no monetary incentive?
The article referenced above provided no reason why a liquid democracy might fail. So here are a few 😊