When one vote in the Senate can shut down the US Government there is something wrong with democracy. The famous checks and balances built into the American system of voting seem to have failed, perhaps even beyond the relatively simple task of increasing the country’s indebtedness. Filibustering is not politics, it is entertainment. Perhaps the voters want entertainment. If so we have signally failed to educate them about what is important in life and what isn’t. The pantomime of the White House seems to be spreading.
It’s not as though they haven’t faced the situation before. There have been repeated budget failures in recent US political history. If a system isn’t working you’d think they’d fix it, wouldn’t you? So why don’t they? For the same reason that we all fail to address democracy – we are scared of vox populi accusing us of gerrymandering. We’ll cheerfully shift a few constituency boundaries on the back of an “independent” commission to redistribute votes. But ask us to rethink one person one vote and we go all coy. Odd, when you remember that less than 100 years ago women didn’t even have the vote in Britain. A very limited number of women got it just four years before I was born. How anachronistic is that?
The right of someone to vote and the value of their vote are not the same thing. I may think I know a lot that entitles me to vote knowledgeably but there are others who know much more. And some who know much less. Is it not right that those with a good grasp of what makes the world work should have a bigger say in how society is run than those who, for whatever reason, are not as well informed or interested? Should not those who contribute most to society have the biggest say of all in its development?
If you think we are neglecting the philosophical and spiritual side of our natures are we also ignoring the potential that digitisation has to define and describe our eligibility to vote? Certain rights are inalienable by virtue of being a sane human being. Those can be addressed with one vote whatever the circumstances of the voter, including imprisonment. Could people of education, thoughtfulness and contribution to society be eligible for more votes? Those not interested would not need to bother themselves. Might those who are, willingly submit their case for extra votes on as measured a basis as is possible?
Found guilty of defrauding society? Should you then be penalised by losing one or more of your votes – possibly all except the last one? I think you should never lose the last vote. That is your right. What contributions to society am I talking about? Not money although in an economic world it must count. More important are initiatives that create better lives for people. My No 2 son is Leader of a Local Authority in England. He has produced what is acknowledged as the most successful public housing programme in the country. He has made a major contribution to society. Might it be recognised not with medals but with votes?
These are deliberately difficult questions. At a time when we have the best thinking in the history of humankind it should be possible to address them if not perfectly at least in a way that will result in more meaningful voting, better incentive to understand the politics of life and a system that increases the cooperation of all towards a more harmonious goal.
If we do not address this thorny problem might we not find ourselves subject to the fake news and rabble rousing of social media and the consequential election of mountebanks to our national assemblies?
Your vote counts. Could your votes count even more?
There are a million reasons why it can’t be done.
May we, instead, work out how it can?