Do you remember the time when the government of the United States was replaced with a different system and no one even noticed?
Probably not. I didn’t notice until yesterday.
Anyway, the old Constitution is gone, and in its place we have social media. The so-called “government” still has budgets and politicians and processes. But at this point in history they just do what social media tells them. They have to. Doing otherwise means failure and job loss.
When the Constitution was designed, communication among citizens was limited. We needed to elect smart leaders who would ride their horses to Washington DC and vote for our interests. The system was brilliant, and served the country well.
But now we have the Internet. Today, social media decides what is “right” and politicians follow their lead. That seems to be working. Don’t believe me?
Quick, name a demographic group that is defined by age, gender, or ethnicity, and tell me what laws their majority favors that the public at large has denied. It’s hard to think of any specific examples, right?
In the old days, evil people did evil things whenever they thought they wouldn’t get caught. Today, social media takes away the opportunity for most types of anonymous evil. If you’re evil these days, you’d better own it, because social media is coming for you.
The old system was one vote per person. That sounded fair, but it doesn’t account for the fact that most people don’t care about most things. Why should my uninformed and uninterested vote on a topic count as much as your highly-interested and well-informed vote?
In a marriage, most people discover that the “winner” of the argument is generally the one who cares the most. Emotion is a legitimate part of decision-making, even at the national level. Social media has fixed the one-vote problem by allowing emotion to be a multiplier.
My hypothesis is that you get a better social result when the people who care the most – and show their work in public – get their way. The majority is still watching with its veto power, in case things get out of control. But generally speaking, if 80% of Elbonians want something, and they are willing to show their thinking in public, the majority tends to be accommodating.
It would be easy to say the process I am describing shouldn’t work. On the surface it seems to give too much power to emotion and not enough to reason. But keep in mind that our old system of one vote per person gave the majority total control to oppress the minority – which it did in notable ways – but over time the trend has moved in a kinder and more inclusive direction.
One of the reasons the so-called “outsider’ politicians are doing well this year is that voters know it doesn’t matter that much who has the job. Social media will tell the President what to do and he or she will do it. (The exception is security issues where most citizens prefer a quick response and a decisive leader.)
Trump is an exception among the candidates because he is offering to be more of a deal-maker than a role model. The “social media candidates” are worried about offending powerful groups. Trump offers to be a deal-maker on behalf of the public, and in that specific realm (complicated deals) the public is both uninformed and uninterested in the details. So what Trump is offering is more of a Republic model like years past, where the President ignores the emotions of special interest groups and does what looks best for the country as a whole.
The other candidates for president can be counted on to run more of a social media presidency. And that model has been working well, in my opinion.
So which would be better – a deal-making president who doesn’t want to be a role model for your kid, or a social media president who will more carefully manage to the emotional state of the country? I see both of those models as being powerful in their own ways.
As I often say – and I mean it – I am not smart enough to know who would do the best job as president. But I deeply appreciate the quality of the choices this time. A deal-making president would probably achieve a different outcome than a social media president, but none of us are smart enough to predict which approach is better in the long run.
But one thing is clear: If you like the old Republic system, where politicians did their thing on our behalf and told us about it later, Trump seems to be offering that. But if you prefer the power of social media as your government, a Hillary Clinton presidency probably gets it for you. In my opinion, either approach could work.
If you think this blog is dumb, you should see my book.