Is It Time to Upgrade to Democracy 2.0?Feb 18, 2023
Is it time to upgrade to Democracy 2.0? When I ask myself this question, the answer is a resounding YES! To me, America is running an ancient Version 1 political system. The industrial revolution began around 1760 in England. America’s constitution was written in 1787 before industrialization taught us much.
The industrial revolution ushered in factories, mass production, and mass distribution. The abuses of large companies motivated the trade union movement. WWI around 1915 and WWII around 1940 took advantage of industrialization, mass producing weapons, jeeps, tanks, ships, and planes. The government was paying so union wages were not a problem. The many large projects taught people a lot about large, complex systems and quality control.
After WWII the study of management took off. There were lots of businesses growing, more wars including the building of nuclear weapons, plus the space programs. Manufacturing continued to grow. Inventions were abundant. Computers let us track projects much better and measure their results. Plus they introduced all sorts of new, complex information systems. As we produced all these new developments, we learned about designing complex systems.
America was founded before the industrial revolution. Life has changed immensely since then.
America’s Constitution was written when America had 3 million people, 13 states, no taxes, single-shot guns, and just single-page printing presses. Our political system was supposed to work for a federal government that had very few people or responsibilities. The founders had no clue about setting up ways to effectively measure or monitor government. When it began in 1787, the first House of Representatives had about 60 members, about 1/7th the number we have today. There were no political parties, no lobbying, no stock market, and no independent American corporations.
Today, we’re using basically the same system. While there are lots and lots of differences, they’ve been added as needed, or they just crept in without ever being designed. Like the party system. And lobbying. And allowing free corporations and granting them rights.
Lots of people complain about the Supreme Court “legislating from the bench.” But it only did so because Congress became slower and slower until in the last few decades it has become gridlocked by partisan fighting. Our political system is divisive and partisan. Public trust is low. For the last 4 decades, America has lacked the basic benchmark of democracy: Voters liking legislation does not increase its chances of being passed.
What we have is American Democracy 1.0, plus a bunch of patches. It’s limping along.
Should we consider an upgrade? Should we apply what we’ve learned over the last 240 years to build a better system? Yes, an upgrade must be done carefully. We can keep the entire Constitution and our rights and liberties. Yes, it should be done democratically, having overwhelming support from The People. Isn’t it time we look seriously at upgrading to Democracy 2.0?