If you could start from scratch, and create a political system that is based on implementing the best, most rational policies, what would that system look like?
In an ideal political system all political parties would clearly state their policy positions and provide all the logical arguments supporting their policy and all the relevant assumptions and facts. Others would analyse and critique those arguments and point out errors and fallacies, so that eventually we can come to agreed rational conclusions about the likely consequences of the policy.
The current political system doesn’t do this. Politicians aren’t interested in providing rational, detailed support for their policies – they’re only interested in three word slogans and emotional sound bites that will influence people.
I think we need to advocate for something like a policy court.
DEVELOPMENT OF A POLICY “COURT”
I’m talking about a debate/discussion which would be conducted over a long period of time (days, weeks, months) almost like a court case, where people would present their case and back it up with evidence and the other side would present counter evidence etc. Then there would be some sort of judge/team who would rule out certain evidence/statements because they had been proven to be false.
Before the debate/discussion took place both sides would have to present their argument in written form – but not waffle and political rhetoric. It would have to be presented in logic point form (similar to how arguments are presented in Logic in Philosophy). Every time they made a claim they would have to state the assumptions and evidence on which they were basing that claim – like in a scientific paper. This would allow the other side to disprove the supporting assumptions/evidence and thus disprove the claim.
I am dismayed at how democracies, around the world, are still in the position where politicians can spout completely illogical arguments (and often self-contradictory arguments) and nobody bats an eyelid – everybody thinks this is just normal and the way it will always be.
No, this is not the way it will always be!
Whether it takes 10 years or 10,000 years, the way we do politics will eventually improve – and it can only improve in the direction of being more logical and evidence based (just as medicine is).
The decisions being made by politicians, on our behalf, are too important to be done in this current ramshackle and often deceptive way. Politicians should not be allowed to deceive the public with clever talk. We must develop a system of politics that prevents that from happening (or at least significantly minimises it).
It’s time for us to start thinking about what such a system would look like.
I think that an important element of such a system must be something like a policy court, which has independent judges/questioners/investigators. In many cases, the evidence probably wouldn’t be conclusive enough to enable the court to decide in favour of one policy or another, but at least it will have removed all the bullshit and forced both sides to fully explain the logic behind their positions.
In a way, I guess what I’m after is a new type of parliament.
A NEW TYPE OF PARLIAMENT
The problem with the current parliamentary structure is that it’s controlled by one political party. What parliament needs is to be run by a truly independent organisation whose primary role is to ensure that truth and transparency are used in order to deliver the best policy possible.
I think that in order to transform parliament in this way, we must first set up private, ad hoc, pilot projects that will run in parallel with parliament and deal with specific policies.
There’d be a website where all sides post their logical arguments. Then a weekend conference/convention/meeting where all sides would come to have their arguments/positions questioned (and challenge each other’s). It would all be filmed.
Then they go away and can develop rebuttals to the challenges that came up at the meeting and place those rebuttals on the website, and revise their arguments/policies. Then, later, come together for another meeting to address the new issues and provide more evidence.
Then more online development and so forth, cycling through face to face meetings and online discussion.
At some stage the independent/adjudicating/investigating team would publish the latest official versions of the cases for and against the policy, in as brief and logical a form as possible (with links to more detail and supporting/disputing argument).
This would be a resource for the public to read, but more importantly a resource for the media to refer to whenever a politician gives them some bullshit/deceitful answer.
It would act as a policing system on the politicians, causing them to stop lying because they know the truth is out there and the reporter will call them on it.
It would also police the reporters by highlighting the incompetence of those who don’t know when a politician is lying to them or spinning them an illogical argument.