Suffrage in the Information Age
A country devoted to democracy would not look like the 2018 United States of America. It would look something like this.
You wake up, and check your phone. A red, white, and blue notification informs you that this week is referendum week. You wash up, get dressed, and sit down to breakfast, taking out your phone. Better to get it out of the way now, because you’ll be rushing around for the rest of the week. You peruse the issues being voted on this time as you take a sip of orange juice. You’re not sure what ‘net neutrality’ is, so you check the description, which has been approved by all of the active political parties in government and therefore should be pretty neutral. Seems pretty important.
As you start with one hand on your scrambled eggs, with your other you scroll down to your preferred party to see what their view of the issue is, in their own words. You check a few other parties’ views too. You even check your least favorite party’s view, to see if they’re still up to the same nonsense. After checking the parties, you check the opinions from the major scientific and business associations. Heck, if you want, you can even search to see what Kanye thinks, or your very outspoken uncle.
By the time the eggs have all traveled from your plate to the warmer confines of your stomach, you’ve made up your mind. You perform the multi-factor authorization after you’ve given your plate a quick wash, and cast your vote.
You remember the days when polling companies would ask small samples of random people their opinions on issues which they may or may not have been informed about, only for them to be thoroughly ignored anyway by the politicians who consulted only their donors and party platforms. What a sham!
This is of course idealized, and for those without smartphones or computers, voting on policy changes could take place in libraries, or churches, or wherever voting already takes place for elections.
If a country can have its people be registered to vote, it can do a little more than just take down our name and preferred party to ensure the privacy and authenticity of our vote, and we should vote as often as things come up to be voted upon. As long as information about the topic is made available in a fair and neutral way, we should be trusted to make our own decisions. Most of all, those decisions should not be made for us when they do not even care what we think. When was the last time a politician asked for your opinion?
It wouldn’t need to be referendum week, it could be a whole month, it could be the first week of every month, or every other month. While direct democracy would have been a little difficult to manage in the past, it was never impossible, and with today’s technology it should be nearly effortless. If the US government served the people, this would already be our reality.