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Jean-Daniel Cusin

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Reinventing government - what would it look like?

If we were to start from scratch and invent a new model of national governance using current available technology and possibilities - what would that look like?

What criteria would be used to evaluate what a good model of governance looks like? I think a basic premise would be that those affected by decisions must have the means to weigh in on them and that the governance measures must be provably sustainable - other thoughts?

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  • Apr 14 2011: Both Dan and Revett, you mention election funding - if we were to start from scratch, would we really keep on having elections of representatives to parliament or to congress? Representative governance was designed 300 years ago at a time when 97% of the population was illiterate and power was held in the hands of the very few. Today, the situation is wholly reversed, where 97% of the population is perfectly able to read, write and do a lot of other things - able, certainly, to weigh in on the decisions that affect them directly.
    Thinking outside the box here - I wouldn't expect to be involved in every decision, but I would like to have the opportunity to get involved in those decisions that I am passionate or that I care about. Especially broad policy decisions that affect the lay of the political land - decisions that will impact the quality of life of my children, etc. If I knew other citizens, possibly in the form of the Jury system, deliberated on policy decisions, instead of politicians, I would tend to have more trust in the outcomes.
    Whatever governance system we conjure, it should ideally do away with partisan and structural opposition. What enterprise can function and be viable when the name of the game is to destroy the other guy's arguments, instead of finding the best solution for the good of the country. The notion of electing people, parties, to "power" creates this game of promising everything, anything, to get elected. The only purpose of an elect is to take decisions in our stead, and I am saying that we can now no doubt do this ourselves.
    For instance, a "Jury" deliberates about a serious issue and comes up with a proposal (not an overly simplified slogan that is "politically acceptable" but inane to solve the problem) and that proposal is put to the vote of the public - You and I would vote via the Internet, and that would be that. If the result is a No, it goes back into deliberation until a better solution is found.
    • Apr 14 2011: Jean-Daniel: Sorry, my response to Dan was just on the topic of election financing, not on your overall question.

      I agree that our current system was designed for a time that has gone away, and I agree that a better educated population with better means of communication could and should result in changes to the way political decisions are made. But I am very loath to throw out the entire system given that it has worked well for several hundred years. I think if we could just go back to the original intent of electing representatives -- so that they represent us to the government, not the other way round -- and if we could somehow bring some civility back into political discourse (among politicians, I mean; heaven forfend that we should encounter any civility here!), and if we could somehow hold politicians to account for the promises they make during elections, then we would resolve many of our existing problems. Perhaps then we could think of fine tuning the system.
      • Apr 14 2011: HI Revett - I agree that throwing away everything could be like throwing away the baby with the bath water - a big change would have to be something we are careful about. There are a lot if "if"s in your comment here, about what it would take to resolve existing problems. I think the issues underlying the "if"s you want to see changed are actually structural.
        For instance, if we have elections, politicians will make promises to win them. If we get to have a say only once every 4-5 years about issues that affect us, this means that the politicians have no accountability with regard to their day to day positions. As long as party politics exist in a "I win- you lose" scenario, it will be difficult to get civility back into the political discourse.
        Politicians are less trusted than lawyers and used car salesmen - yet they take it upon themselves to spend 30-50% of your and my wages on programs designed to keep them in office. Fundamentally, I am convinced most of them are very decent human beings. But the system is debased and needs fixing in order to make it safe and trustworthy. That's my original question - what would it look like?
    • Apr 14 2011: I can't argue with you! I agree that most politicians are probably decent people, at least until they climb into the bottomless pit of whichever capitol building they head to when elected, but you only have to look at the "debates" of the last two evenings (here in Canada) to see four otherwise intelligent people play-acting their way through a completely meaningless two-hour suspension-of-reality show in a totally unconvincing manner and in a way that did nothing for me except make me want to lock all four of them up somewhere where they can be neither seen nor heard. And these are four people vying to be the Head Honcho in a major western country. So sad.

      However, I still believe the system is fundamentally sound and needs improving, not rejecting or replacing.

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