In part 1 and part 2 of this series I pointed out some of the obvious problems with current systems of government. Now I'll describe my solution to the problem.
There are two elections, one closely following the other.
The first election is about issues, and each voter gets a booklet that describes 10-20 propositions with arguments for and against each proposition. A proposition can be on a variety of topics, such as foreign policy, education, and health care. Each voter casts a vote for or against each proposition. The state of California and the city of San Francisco already use this booklet approach for voting and it seems to work well.
The second election is about picking people to enact the issues. Once the results of the first election are public, anyone can declare themselves as a candidate for enacting a particular proposition. The people then vote for the candidates that they want to enact the winning propositions.
In my system, there are no political parties at all. There are just issues and people who are elected to enact them. If there's a need for a "president", then one person could be elected from the pool of candidates to represent all the winning propositions. But that person would only be a figurehead and would not be responsible for enacting any particular issue.
The benefits of my system are:
- people can vote on a per issue basis
- attacks on candidates have no impact on votes for issues
I doubt whether any existing countries will adopt such a radically different system, but my hope is that future civilizations will pick something along these lines to avoid the current headaches we experience.
Update: I removed the concept of weighing votes based on a voters record because it detracted from the core innovation in this system, which is: voting for issues first and candidates second. I'll add the concept back in a follow-up post instead.
Here are some random thoughts about meaning and language.
Let's say that I'm visited by an Alien. The Alien points at an apple and says "zobok". I don't know what "zobok" refers to, but I guess that it refers to the apple or some property of the apple. For example, it might mean "green", "round", or perhaps its X-ray transparency. I hope it's not the latter, since I can't see X-rays without special equipment! To find out, I point at a grape which is also green and say "zobok". The Alien snarls, which I assume means that the grape doesn't have "zobok-ness". This in turn means that "zobok" probably doesn't mean "green".
I continue to point at other things that have something in common with an apple and say "zobok" until the Alien doesn't snarl. When this happens, there's a good chance that the property they have in common is called "zobok". By trial and error, I find that "zobok" means "something between 3 and 6 inches across". This isn't even a concept that humans typically have, but apparently the concept is useful for the Alien. We continue is this fashion and I finally figure out the Alien terms for "green", "round", "organic", and "smooth".
Now it's time for our roles to reverse. I point to the apple and say "apple". The Alien understands the game and points at lots of other things while saying "apple". But the only time I don't snarl is when the Alien points at an apple, so the Alien figures out by process of elimination that "apple-ness" is associated with physical objects that are "zobok", "green", "organic" and "smooth". The Alien doesn't know for sure that "apples" always have these properties, and there aren't additional constraints or special cases, but for all practical purposes it now knows "apple-ness".
Now that we're both playing the game and can figure out each other's labels for things, we can learn each other's labels too. For example, when I say "apple" and point to the apple, the Alien points to the apple as well and says "pizo". Then I point at the apple and say "pizo" and the Alien says "apple". This is how we exchange symbols, and now I know that "pizo-ness" is the same or similar to "apple-ness".
It's worth noting that we both might have senses that the other does not. For example, the Alien might see X-rays and so "pizo-ness" includes the apple's X-ray properties. Similarly, I might have taste and so "apple-ness" includes the apple's taste. If I had a pair of X-ray glasses, I could crudely learn the Alien's terms for various of X-ray properties, albeit in a crude way. So if the Alien uses "akk" for something that gives off strong X-rays, I could put on the glasses and verify this term. I could even come up with my own term for the same property and use this to communicate back with the Alien.
Up until now, the language has been very simply - single words associated with individual properties or bundling of properties. Of course, words can refer to more complex things. Here's a guesstimate of how hard it would be to convey the properties of various concepts:
Simple: red, loud, smooth, fast
Medium: apple, car
Hard: sympathetic, argumentative, creative
For bonus points, how would you convey the concept "conscious"? ;-)
In the next part of this series, I'll chat about language syntax.
In part 1 of this series I mentioned that one of the big problems with the current party system of government is that issues are bundled together and parties can come to power because of one or two divisive issues.
Another big problem is that issues are bundled with a candidate. For example, there are plenty of people in the US who might prefer the Democratic platform but will not vote for their candidate Barack Obama because he's black. It's a shame when a nation's policies can be distorted by bigotry and ignorance.
In the next part of this series I'll describe a new kind of government system that solves both issues.