On Civic Tech and Participation
If you want political participation by the public, the transaction cost of participation in democracy has to be lowered in order to accommodate peoples’ needs, wishes, and tastes. Conservatives and ideologues from either side will not want this to happen, nor will the Established Left be all too happy about it (because then they might actually be held accountable to their actions, for a change). A good legislator, public executive, or administrator should be able to work well under the potential threat of being removed from office due to poor performance. It is both in the interests of the governed and the governing to preserve this confidence, trust, and legitimacy. Without it, the whole social system will break down, something no one who has actually lived through would ever want. Anarchy and Libertarianism are nice in theory, but terrible in practice, just as a centrally planned Socialist economy is, likewise, a bad idea in actual practice.
Therefore, I encourage all governments to adopt technology to enable non-violent and relatively energy cheap feedback from the general public, in order to see what’s needed, what’s working well, and what’s working poorly. The data should be readily available for researchers and the public alike. It’s true that filtering methods will have to be installed in order to weed out the nonsense that people will give. But in general, a functional society will have a government whose services are easy to access, enables substantive feedback from the general public, and holds officials accountable for their actions and choices while in office. Without that, the social order will break down, and only the Anarchists and Libertarians will be temporarily happy (until they realize how necessary the social order is for their own individual well-being and health).
It is time that we give up on the childish ideological beliefs and preferences and focus on what it is that we actually need and could want, as human beings, and how to best accomplish those needs and wants without doing ourselves harm in the short or long term. It is time that we adopt science at the core of our governing philosophy. Without it, governing officials will not understand their interests and roles as governing officials, and will more likely make costly mistake choices that will harm themselves and the public alike. We seriously can do better as a society and as a species. I know it.