SimSovereign: Upgrading Our Democracy to A New Level
Reading WIRED news on the consumer preview of Windows 8 gave me an idea of how to upgrade our democracy into Democracy 2.0.
Think of our political system as equivalent to the OS. OS is almost universal. It's the foundation of our modern information society. If there's a "consumer preview" for a commercial OS, why not have a "constituents preview" of the incoming government? My idea started there. If we can download the very fabric of our information society for a tryout why not incorporate this into our political system, or the method of selecting our government?
The whole purpose of the "consumer preview" is to have the consumers try out the actual product before its product release, gain their feedback and reflect them on the product release so it can be improved. So if we can "install" and "uninstall" as we please this Consumer Preview before its final release, why can't the same be applied to politics--or should I say, our sovereign right to choose our own government?
Companies also have trial periods, usually about a year. Companies can choose whether the future employee is fit for the company as a whole, his/her performance in a specific line of work, and finally, whether the person is a productive or disruptive newcomer to the company or not. Why can't this be applied to the way we choose our own government?
Installing Democracy 2.0
So how's this: "install" any government and allow it to demonstrate its capacity to govern over a period of 1 year, and for maximum of 5 years, the government gets to reshuffle the combination of its administration. During these 5 years, the pilot government will have limited powers, and people gets to make judgments, give feedback to see whether they can improve their performance. If it doesn't, they can choose to "Uninstall" no questions asked.
After the 5-year testing period, the government is fully "installed" and is allowed to govern with full powers granted for the next 10 years without election or change of government. In 10 years time, the current government can run for re-election and if people approve, they can run for another 10 years. The maximum term any chosen government can run will be limited to 20 years without re-election. After 20 years, the ruling coalition cannot run for another 20 years until the next government finishes its term.
The positive side of this is two-folds. One is that you get to 'test' governments before actually giving them full power to govern. The other dimension is that while the 'product release' government is in power, citizens do not have to be preoccupied with elections and politicians holding up to its campaign promises. Once the government is chosen, the government will rule with full confidence and citizen will assume full responsibility for making the choice for at least 20 years. So there's a sharing of responsibility here.
The negative side of this is also two folds. This system is based on the notion that corruption is not a mater of time but of the given condition; that if right condition is provided people will live up to its given responsibility and thus perform better. But there is always a possibility that the length of right to govern will bring forth corruption and that the level of corruption (severity) will be commensurate to the length of time. The primary design of the 1-year test period has this in mind. On the other hand, 1 year may not be enough to test the full capability of a government. We may have to establish distinct set of criteria to be able to judge the performance of a government efficiently and effectively.
So there are advantages and risks involved in this new system of democratic governance.
Testing the New System
One distinct advantage over our forefathers of democracy in Europe and North America is our technology. What the use of technology if it doesn't contribute to the betterment of our lives in its truest sense? If we have SimCity, SimEarth, SimNations, and a virtual cyber society where new currencies can be used (I forgot its name), then why not create a full-fledged simulation system of a new form of democracy? Call it "SimSovereign" for now.
I have no idea how such sophisticated system of decision making can be created. That's up to the creators. But I believe the art of gamification that we've come to recognize as a useful tool of social integration should be upgraded to a new level. Up til now, SLGs only simulated a world within our own boundary of reality. In other words, nation building was based on the 20th century notion and system of governance that we know today. If we are to simulate a new mode of democratic governance then its game system must be based on the 21st century notion of democracy, Democracy 2.0.
The Arab Spring and the social media revolution have led us to believe that a minor upgrade of our democratic system may be possible. But minor upgrades can by definition only do little and fundamental changes cannot be expected. Changing our election laws or just moving power from one to another does not resolve the fundamental issue of democracy. If we are to change the system, then we ought to change 'the' system--our OS, our government, the way we choose our government, and more. Then can we achieve a true change in our system, and upgrade our democracy to the next level. Till then, we have the time and the technology to test them.