The Economist recently proposed that the American political system change three things.
The first is to scrap the filibuster.
The Senate filibuster gives 41 out of 100 senators the ability to block anything except a budget (they could in theory represent just 11% of the population).
The second is to stop gerrymandering. For the uninitiated, US districts are determined by a political process where the politicians effectively draw their district maps to advantage themselves. Like this example of Chicago.
The third is to perform open primaries. Following the lead of California, where anyone can vote for any candidate in each of the major parties and then the two best candidates slog it in a general election. The two party system is failing us and opening up the selection process is how we can make the democratic process across the world more representative.
But I’m going to suggest two other concepts, all invented in the last decade.
The first is a concept called Liquid Democracy or delegative democracy. It’s like a hybrid of representative democracy (where you can select a delegate to represent you) and direct democracy (where you can vote on issues directly). What I love about the idea, is that if you don’t want to vote you can pick someone else to vote for you — who in turn can pick someone else to vote for you and them. It’s like a more efficient version of representative democracy.
To me, this is such a powerful idea because voters around the world from the US to my home country of Australia feel disenfranchised by the political process. To give the option of a vote on matters, even if in practice most matters will be delegated (as most laws are quite boring), could activate the electorate to what it actually wants.
The second is a technology called “secure multiparty computation” that underpin the concept of Distributed Autonomous Corporations or DAC’s. To give a scenario with some simplified imagery, once a year all citizens ‘register’ with their key which generates a master lock. Then, if the majority of people that contributed to that master lock put together their keys to create a new key (for a decision to be made), this key theoretically will match the master lock to validate it’s a motion that can carry forward. I’m not doing this any justice: you should read more about this brilliant concept enabled by technology.
And that’s it. While filibusters seem to be a oddity of the American system, party representatives in all democracies all have an equivalent primary selection process and electoral districting is common to all systems. And the concepts behind delegative democracy and how DAC’s operate could theoretically be implemented into all existing political systems in the form of the political party and representatives. Indeed, the Pirate Party of Europe are who have popularised the concept.
Imagine a political party fielding candidates where they commit to vote in whatever their electorate wanted, in the form of delegative democracy. Where all members of the electorate get via email an option to vote on any topic but by default, they can allocate their vote to someone else (such as the elected representative) — and which can be done in real time through the wonders of encryption.
The above ideas don’t overthrow the government and can all work with the existing political system of many countries. But in the process, it may change the distortions to democracy due to corruption and money by putting voters directly in touch with decisions and the people who claim to represent them.
More accountability? That’s how your overthrow the government.