The Future of the U.S. Political System: Technology to the Rescue

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I made a list of Future Points of View I wanted to write about and this one was high, although I struggle to understand why. I, like many citizens in our country, am regularly nauseated with what our system of governance has become.  I will stipulate it is not the worst performing group of leaders, but neither is it the best.  I will also stipulate that I have never run for office, although I have helped others who have.  

The fact that I have not been part of the inner circle means I dislike criticizing, having not walked a mile in their shoes.  With all of that said, this blog is about looking into the future of technology and its impacts and I don’t want to shy away from an important aspect of our world.

What’s Broken

Before I can make an argument for what technology will do to improve our system of governance, I need to point out some of the areas that are now broken.  

Here is a short list:

  • A minority of people actually vote in elections and when they do, they often have VERY little information on the platforms and people they are voting on

  • Voting itself is handled in archaic ways that require a person to be authenticated by a piece of paper, go to a location, wait in line, then vote from a list with no details whatsoever

  • Candidates must now raise massive sums of money to pay for the advertising and exposure to get people to understand even a little of their platform – and get to know them at any level.  Where this money comes from is a constant problem whether from outside PACS or from the candidates themselves, which favors the rich and not always the qualified

  • Once elected, it is often difficult for the public to really follow what our representatives are doing, voting for, or trading off to make progress

  • The complexity of major issues today – like healthcare – creates massive confusion among voters who lose complete track of anything other than the immediate impacts they feel in their own lives

  • Our two-party system is broken because the underlying system for election or bill passage requires each official to submit to all out divergence from the other party’s ideas.  This have driven a level of divisiveness that is completely against what our founders imagined.

  • And finally, the general environment of politics at the national level has become toxic and we are struggling to find good solid people with the right motivations to run for office.  It is no longer a job that is respected by the press, the voters or each other it appears

There is more dysfunction but let’s agree most of the major issues were covered. The first step in correcting behavior is to admit you have a problem, and we have a governance problem.  So, you are probably wondering how technology can possibly help us at this point. Trust me, it can and will.

Blockchain-Enabled Voting

First of all, we need a new voting system that can authenticate a legitimate voter through a digital authentication model.  This would allow us to vote from anywhere there is an internet connection.  We can then open the voting window for a set amount of time, say 24 hours, and immediately we would have a much higher rate of people voting.  If we base the underlying voting system on a blockchain we can probably make it safer from fraud.  

Since we will be voting online, we can then provide tons of voting history information on each candidate so that a voter can make a few clicks and learn a lot about the options.  We can also include campaign approved backstories and candidate public statements, so it is much more clear what people stand for – or at least have stood for in the past.

Tracking Votes

Once candidates are elected, I believe we will have new digital tools we can turn on that let us to see every time they vote, what they voted for, and when they missed a vote.  We will immediately be able to “like” or “dislike” what they did so they get feedback from thousands of people on what they are doing.

We will have AI’s that will look through any bill that has been submitted to pull out the meaningful pieces that might impact us personally or that touch on something we care strongly about.  The kind of automated evaluation will help us provide feedback to legislators who are supposed to represent us BEFORE the bills get voted on.

Financial Accountability

We will have campaign financing dashboards that show us in detail who has taken what money, from who and in what amounts, and then correlations on how legislators have voted.  There will be alerts that show when they have voted against their constituent’s desires but for some entity that funded them.  By the way, these will be available on the voting sites for review when someone wants to be reelected.

Maybe you are seeing a theme here.  We will have tools that help us to know more about what is going on in governance sessions and behind the scenes.  We will have more of an ability to hold our representatives accountable to represent us and not just play a game to keep their jobs when they get there. 

We will also have tools that will make it easier to actual vote in a more knowledgeable way and with more convenience.  Sure, we will lose the cute little “I Voted Today” stickers, but we will gain much more participation in the process – what we call a democracy.

The sad thing is the technology we need to improve government exists today and can easily be put together in sort order.I guess our frustration level as citizens has not risen high enough just yet.It will soon and the political process of the future will make todays look

Annie Brown