Recalling my last Subjunctive TV post, based on the notion borrowed from Douglass Hofstadter’s Achilles/Tortoise dialog wherein a TV was imagined where sports replays included “what if” features. These features began with standard, “What if they had run the ball instead of passed” and devolved eventually to more outlandish suggestions like, “How would that play have gone if 13 was not a prime number.” In that vein, for a short time anyhow, longer if it catches some interest, I’m going to try more “Subjunctive TV” speculative posts. 

James Madison and a few of his friends (and some likely not-friends) gathered in the late 18th century and penned a Constitution based on the modern theories of man and government at the time. A few years have passed since then and just a few things have changed in the world since that time. So the premise shift offered for today’s viewing and consideration is what sort of government might our founders suggested if:

  1. There is a non-trivial body of work on the mathematics of voting. We have the means to tally votes in ways that are judged superior in better reflecting what people want than simple plurality.
  2. Modern communications internet, phones, and so on exist. High speed efficient communication between large number of people assisted by automation exists and is adaptable to new purposes. 

We’ve had our current Constitution for just over 200 years. Some things went really well. Their back of the envelope estimations of power and principle and how to balance that was darn good. Yet people are increasingly of the feeling that government is too distant and too remote. It is very powerful but their input is irrelevant. The separation of the people in power from the problems they try to address and the complexity of those same problems is an increasingly obvious flaw. In the past, I’ve pointed out that the skill set required to be successful in the election process are almost completely disjoint from the job requirements and fail to test fitness to meet the demands of the jobs for which the elected official is to fill. 

I would suggest that if Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness was the end of government … then we might be able do design a government depending on and using different ways of getting peoples input and suggestions, finding solutions, and insuring freedoms in ways that, for example, don’t require taxation with so little representation. Could Facebook (of all things) and Open source software collaboration offer any models toward a completely new way of viewing government or …

How might the Constitutional Convention have played out if it was held today by technologically savvy politically astute men. How would a convention staffed by people like a Wozniak/Madison, Hamilton/Knuth offer for the nation?

Filed under: Consider the FollowingMark O.

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