Re-Booting & Reforming Democracy With Big Data ~ The Box Carries the Vox
Winston Churchill stood in the British Parliament and spoke the following words:
"Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
When the American Founding Fathers created a unique concept of Western Liberal Democracy, it was in fact a great experiment enshrining concepts operating under the principles of liberalism. This includes protecting the enshrined rights of the individual; fair, free, and competitive elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms for all persons. (quoted from Wikipedia).
However, the mechanism that they put into place to administer this democracy was very much a kludge or a compromise to best accommodate the will of the people, taking into account, the pragmatic aspects of their place and time in history.
Something has happened between then and now. Nowadays, the will of the people is being subverted and distorted by political partisanship and it is not for the good of the country and the people. The gridlock and dysfunction in the America Congress is a prime example (If con is the opposite of pro, then is Congress the opposite of progress?). And in the American Senate, when they do the roll call, half of them answer "Not Guilty!". You don't have to go far to find examples of how the mechanism of government fails to democratically represent the will of the people. The idea of thousands of people being represented by a person whose vote and interest can be bought by a business lobby somehow sucks all of the air out of the room of democracy.
Well, times have changed since 1776, but the ways of the government have not. With the advent of technological age, it is time to update, enhance, and empower the forces of democracy through the judicious application of technology, communications and data management.
I still believe that political parties are necessary. As human beings we will always have ideological differences, and no matter how batsh*t crazy some people are, they still have a right to vote and express their opinion. Churchill again once said that the biggest argument against democracy is to speak to the average voter for five minutes. So you will get the weirdos who think that owning an assault rifle will protect them from a drone strike when their elected, democratic government chooses to attack them in their bunker amid the 10 years of rice stocks mixed with prepper gadgets stored on the shelves therein. There will always be the snake-handlers, the wanna-be polygamists, the Ovary Overlords who want to legislate women's reproductive rights, and the folks who want to throw out the science curriculum in schools and replace it with learned treatises on Adam and Eve domesticating the dinosaurs. All these have a right to a voice in the democracy.
Political parties also define policy, which is important in government. Policy the course by which the government steers by. We don't want a rudderless ship, so we still need legislators to debate policy. But when they come up with legislation specifics to policy implementation, I want my direct say.
In the days of 1776, it took a week to get from Philadelphia to New York. There were no telephones. You couldn't track people down on the farm for their views. Times have changed. We have Big Data. We have the technology and communications tools to hear from everyone. We have the infrastructure to empower all voices. With computer data collection, we can collect hundreds of millions of pieces of data in minutes. And we can machine-collate them in real time.
So, what if anyone with a Social Security Number had a private encryption key? Whenever legislation came up for a vote, we all vote on it? Vox populi. The voice of the people can speak and be heard. The legislation would be put to a vote, and we the people would respond. We could all directly vote for the legislation and the laws that we affect us. Being digital in this age has put a voice to the voiceless and nameless. Data Science can be our rescuers and our salvation.
This would make it harder for big business and lobbies to affect democracy. They would have to convince entire populations of their point of view, and it doing so, they would have to make it in the interest of the population. It would be the great leveling ground in the current incarnation of democracy.
Do we have the guts to change the way that we enact democracy? We still have a Digital Divide, where a significant portion of the population doesn't participate, and cannot participate in digital online life. We have education issues. We have a built-in inertial brake for radical change. The people who benefit from the current state of dysfunction want to keep it that way. So it will be an uphill battle, but Big Data can reform democracy and put the power back into the hands of the people, where it belongs.
Back to Winston Churchill one more time to close my argument. Upon being offered The Order Of the Garter after a particularly humiliating defeat in the election of 1945, he said "Why should I accept the Order of the Garter, when I have already been given the Order of the Boot?" It is time to give the old tired mechanisms of democracy a boot.