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- Dai Cymru
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You know what they say, "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."
"We vote for those who we think are 'the best'."
From a very small selection of candidates we may know little about - perhaps just their public personas.
"while in Plato's republic, Socrates and Plato seem to pretend that 'the best' is completely objective."
Not completely objective, just that the qualifications for office should be more objective than not. We need a way to weed out the less desirable candidates who want the job for the wrong reasons: power, money, fame. We don't want them in our party because, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, we don't want to have the sort of club that would allow them as members. (Groucho said, "I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member")
Therefore, Plato suggested we draft the best candidates, as for military service. Don't know about that, it's too much like involuntary servitude, but it certainly doesn't help to reward them with lavish salaries and fringe benefits.
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The Qin and Han dynasties in ancient China as well as British rule in India. Some describe modern Singapore as a meritocracy.
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I agree with @LuckyR that we could pursue the idea of a 2-phases referendum.
Most referendums will require application laws (even if they are clearly formulated), so we can say that any referendum that passes gives the government a certain time to write all application laws (or to negociate with other countries a new deal); then this result is voted on. This last vote can however not reverse the initial referndum (as the application laws may just be bad, but the strategic intent still good). So we could use a two layered question:
Code: Select all
Do you accept the application laws [ ] Yes [ ] No Do you request another application laws if the current proposal is rejected [ ] Yes [ ] No
A no to both questions is clear - subject is dropped
A no to the first question and yes to the second gives a new delay to the government for another try (potentially again and again ).
Think this is complex? Well, trust the citizen - we have something similar (but a bit different, it is A, B and C is the preference if both A and B get a majority of yes) in Switzerland for cases where there is a popular initiative (law proposed by a group for popular vote) and a counter-project by the parliament (another law trying to solve the same issue).
I am not allowed to post a link, but you can search Wikipedia for "Doppeltes_Ja_mit_Stichfrage" (in German only) for an example of such a ballot.
What do you think? Is this a legitimate way to go?
On another topic, @Alias mentioned Meritocracy. I agree with @Felix that I do not really understand how it works. I disagree with @LuckyR that Singapore is one. Singapore is more a one-party system (using its power as governing body to keep opposition low, e.g. via diffamation laws and gerrymandering), but with very smart people that really try to use at best the competences, care for its citizens, and obtain fantastic results. I admire Singapore a lot, but do not think it is a full democracy nor a meritocracy in the sense that a competent person that does not bow to the main party probably has no chance for a political influential office (disclaimer: just lived there for few months, so actually not competent to judge, just impressions).
How would this meritocracy really work, and more important: how do we assure that they do what the citizen want?
Remember, the citizens may want something that is not "objectively" the best solution, as they may be competing objectives. Citizens in one country may want the maximal economic results, while others may target the minimal working times or the purity of their culture. None are wrong, they just have different objectives and the "meritocrats" - while they may be the best to find the best path to achieve the objectives - need to know what the people actually want.
Obviously meritocrats, as exceptional people, will not be themselves representative of the desire of the society at large...