So I’ve been very seriously considering entering into politics in the future. I have a strong suspicion that in the not-to-distant future we will see it not only possible but actually witness people winning elections with the aid of the internet. I’m sure some folks have gotten votes by advertising by the internet but I’m speaking more of a (and forgive me for using this word) grassroots movement.
Internet Memes spread like wildfire with little to no money investment, the ability for information to travel to millions of people without millions of dollars is very possible. With this in mind I bet a person with enough internet presence could become a powerhouse during elections. I’m obviously not that person, at least not yet, but it is something to keep in mind.
I don’t believe I’m the only one seeing this possibility, the sheer veracity of these bills trying to censor the internet tells me that the binary party system is witnessing a great shift of information. Where it used to be newspaper, news TV, or bust, it is now a globally connected web sphere (this elicits a vision of spiders making their own balls for sports). The ability to control information and manipulate it has become incredibly difficult.
There are of course weaknesses, twitter and Facebook occasionally carry false information for a few days before snopes or some other service roots it out. Celebrities die and then undie, things are stolen yet not, or wars have broken out where no such is available. I look at these more as the birthing pains of something great, the internet while a few decades old is still very new and people are still figuring out just how to use it best.
There are many positions one can get in politics, I’m sure the conventional suggestion is to start small as a Mayor or something similar and move up the ladder. However I think I’m going to take a different route. The minimum age for Senate is 30, there are a few other constitutional requirements such as being a US Citizen for at least 9 years (I’ve got 25 and counting), and living in the state you represent. Since I’d obviously be living wherever I was living and by the time I’m 30 I’ll have been a US Citizen for 30 years it looks like I’m fairly solid for the entrance exam.
But what? What about a track record, why would anyone vote for me over a seasoned politician? I’ve been thinking about that. Look at the history of the US, we have followed a fairly consistent system of electing people with legal backgrounds (eg. lawyers) and people who were previously in some other position in government. Where has that gotten us? Well it would be hyperbolic to say nowhere good, but it has certainly left us with hundreds of people in congress who have deep connections with various special interests.
It’s all so commonly said that it borders on the cliché, even by saying “Special interest” I feel like a talking head. But I do think there is something good to be found in voting for someone fresh. It would be quite surprising if they did worse than the people who are actively being malicious. Plus we could finally get some people in congress that aren’t lawyers. I’m not necessarily a person who hates lawyers but…54% of the Senate is lawyers and 36% of the House is Lawyers.
This brings with it a particularly disturbing thought. The law is not concerned with what is best in the interest of the people, nor what is most positive, it is only interested in the law. Laws can be made easily to make any activity legal. So if the people making the laws are only worried if things are illegal then they can shape the world in any way and sleep easy at night.
Again, sounds silly, talking head sort of jargon, but look at just about any major law passed since you started paying attention to politics? Passing pollution bills that make it legal to put more crap in rivers, more crap in the air, or passing bills to make it difficult to compete with any current large businesses. These people aren’t scientists, they aren’t biologists, climatologists, teachers, doctors (well most aren’t doctors), or any other discipline that should be making these laws.
And who tells them why the laws are good ideas? Lobbyists, a job that is by-design not genuine. People who are paid to convince these Lawyers that these bills are good ideas. It’s not entirely their fault that they have no idea just how bad putting Mercury into the air is (Coal Plants), it seems obvious to me but perhaps the lobbyists are incredible convincing and use the terminology “PPM (or Parts Per Million)” to make it sound much less dangerous.
So I’ve got a plan, I’d love for anyone to steal it before I hit 30. I’m going to run for office and put up a web forum. The only way Lobbyists, regardless of who they represent, can reach me is by posting on this public forum. They will make their case and explain to me why their laws are important. I will then call upon the entire population of my state to fact check the data and if it is genuine then I will decide whether to push the law or drop it.
The same would be done for bills proposed by other Senators (I’d personally prefer running for Senate, less people to report on) I would post those bills to the forums. Folks could then summarize the bill and everyone could discuss it. If we find any major loopholes (think SOPA) I would crush it, or at least explain why it is foolish and vote against it.
By myself this wouldn’t change the world, you still have 99 other Senators who are getting paid big dollars to do things for people with big dollars. It will then be up to the people to spread this system to other areas. Require their senators to use the system or vote in someone who will.
Furthermore on the forums we’d have people certified. PHD in Astrophysics? Send us a copy of the documentation and we’ll get your account marked up as such. This way when people discuss different bills and their impact the average visitor will immediately see that they have training in the field. Does this mean those people get special treatment? No. But it does mean that people will get recognized for their efforts. The voice of a paid head is not nearly as important as that of an educated citizen.
Obviously it would require lots of help, but this is true about any forums. The amount of moderation and the difficulty of keeping up with the project would probably be somewhere on the Scale of the World of Warcraft forums. If they can do it I’m sure we state could.
I’ve got time to think about it, work on ideas and expand upon them. But I’d love for someone to steal this and run with it. To a certain degree I’m looking at Al Franken. I’d love to see him put up a forums so that people could respond to the things he has been saying in Email. But I’m a little hard on him because he spent so long mocking the people to (seemingly) just evolve into one of them.
But perhaps I’m wrong, and this sort of system would show that quickly.
At any rate, this is something I was thinking about for the majority of the time I was cleaning the Kitchen today. So it is hardly rock solid, but you must start somewhere. I actually have a pretty deep seeded love for politics, I can see something beautiful hiding just beneath the surface and I think if people were more aware of various pieces of the system they’d be more happy to talk about it.
It’s a many sided problem, the biases that lead us to elect bad people, to vote against our best interests, to ignore critical pieces of legislation, and to overall express learned helplessness. The more people know why they do what they do, and why those they count on do what they do, the more they can think over the influence of the biases of the brain. (That got quite wordy…)
At any rate, that’s it for today.
Just another 6 years before I can give this a shot. Actually if I’m doing the math correctly I might have to wait 8 years. I won’t be 30 during the election season in 6 years, I’ll be 29. Don’t do math while you are tired folks. I’ll be 26 in August which means I’ll be 30 in 4 years which means I’d be old enough just in time for the elections in November. Ah well! Just more time to spelunk the universe. (Oh yes, I went there)