It is an absolute truth that politics determines who gets what.
Regardless of the nature of the “what,” whether it is lower taxes, a new local road, or a college education, it is always scarce. There is never enough of it. Air is admittedly abundant, and not usually the subject of politicking, but clean air in Baton Rouge, Beijing, or Delhi is most definitely scarce.
We acknowledge the necessity of tradeoffs in politics, but modern democracy avoids making them. Instead of cutting government contractors to fund better infrastructure and balance the budget, politicians kick the issue down the road to save their seats. Voters could confront those issues and make the tradeoffs, but they have no direct access to the vote.
Much of the raging frustration that citizens of developed countries like the United States and the UK are expressing comes from powerlessness, and a sense that the needs of certain groups will never be heard. Much of the gridlock in government is the result of the party system, an artifact from at least the eighteenth century. Parties are no longer needed.
It is now time for citizens to stop voting parties and politicians into power, and instead to vote entirely on issues, just as some issues are decided today with referenda. Technology gives us the ability to confirm identity with biometrics and to vote at any time on our smartphones and computers.
The right way to approach the scarcity of resources that we inevitably face is for each citizen to apportion their votes from an annual allocation of a fixed number of votes per citizen—let’s say 100. A scarcity of votes will force the individual to budget them carefully and to appreciate their power. Instead of one person, one vote an individual may choose to “spend” 50 of her votes to defeat an egregious local polluter, and carefully allocate the remaining 50 votes to national and state issues.
Politicians will have the role that they now seek upon retirement or defeat, advocating for votes on issues. Citizens need to understand the issues to which they allocate votes, and to hear all sides. Who better to explain the issues and campaign for an outcome than these masters of communication?