We live in a world where we can get nearly everything instantly.
Instant information. Instant entertainment. Instant communications. Instant transactions.
Simply and rightly, we have come to expect our decisions to yield instant results from the systems that serve us.
Well, that's true for every system except our political system.
We're only allowed to interact with our political system, in a meaningful way, only once every two years and only then by filling out a multiple choice quiz in an election booth.
That's akin to an Internet that only available for a couple of hours every two years at 1,200 baud.
It's crazy in this day and age. Worse, there's increasing evidence it is driving us crazy. We are filling the time in between these electoral events with around the clock political warfare. A ceaseless drumbeat of outrage and conspiracy, amplified by the online echo chambers we spend our time in.
Fortunately, I don't believe this disconnect will last long. A form of direct democracy is coming. One that lets people directly influence the decisions of the people they send to Washington.
A form of interactive democracy that doesn't require any changes to the constitution since it works at the party level and not the national.
When it does, it's going to hit us fast, taking off like wildfire since it fulfills a fundamental need that the current system does not provide.
Here's a quick example from the perspective of the Trump insurgency. Other political parties would need different approaches, but they could if done in the right way (simple approach, scaled quickly by using disruptive marketing, grow from there), grow as quickly as this.
Here's how quickly populism can be automated:
- Trump or Bannon picks an issue: the narrower and more inflammatory (disruptive marketing) the better. Make the vote a yes or no.
- Trump asks his supporters to tell him what they want (he doesn't ask those opposing him).
- His supporters download the app to their smart phones and vote.
- A little programming and marketing magic radically improves the number of Trump supporters using the app and reduces spammers/non-supporters attempting to skew the vote down to a trickle.
- Millions of Trump supporters download the app and vote.
- Once the decision is in, the app makes it easy to call or spam message to the user's Congressional representatives. Millions of calls roll in.
- A bill that codifies that issue is fast tracked in Congress. Massive pressure via the app and the White House gets it passed quickly.
- Connecting action and results quickly generates buzz. Repeat. This time with 10 m downloads.
- The app evolves. The pressure from the network increases. It consumes the Republican party.
Notice how the system, in a barebones fashion, could become a staple of governance nearly overnight.
Notice too how this doesn't in any way change the system of governance that is already in place. It's a plug and play upgrade (for many and something deeply scary downgrade to many).
Regardless, networked politics is coming. It won't matter if you like it or not. It's inevitable.
How networked politics evolves from this humble beginning is the tricky part.
Get it wrong and we're making the same mistakes we did with the governance of the nation-state prior to WW2 or in replacing feudal with representative governments -- it could end in horrific violence.
Get it right and we could zoom forward economically, socially, and culturally.
PS: This example is barebones. I've left out most of the nuance. If you want that, you will need to hire me to help you design and build it. I'm an idealist, but I'm also a mercenary capitalist.