I ended yesterday’s post with a very fanciful “reboot America” suggestion. I’m sure our contemporary MAGA warriors would love to reboot the country–they’re working hard to to take us back to before the civil war, when men were men and White Christians were in charge–but as I was mulling over my very silly premise, I realized that one of my favorite final exam questions actually did ask my graduate students how they would reboot governance. (It was a take-home exam.)
This was the question:
Earth has been destroyed in World War III. You and a few thousand others—representing a cross-section of Earth’s races, cultures and religions—are the only survivors. You have escaped to an earthlike planet, and are preparing to establish a new society. You want to avoid the errors of the Earth governments that preceded you, and establish a governance system that will be stable and fair. What institutional choices do you make and why? Your essay should include: The type/structure of government you would create; the powers it will have; the limits on its powers, and how those limits will be enforced; how government officials will be chosen and policies enacted; and the social and political values you intend to privilege.
Most of the students responded with a modified version of American governance–three branches, rule of law, equal rights, democratic elections and a variety of “tweaks”–interestingly, the tweaks usually included getting rid of the Electoral College, adopting national health care and paying considerably more attention to environmental issues. Students also tended to constrain–but not eliminate– capitalism. Others were more creative; I recall one student who suggested that the new world order should start with a benevolent dictatorship–with him as dictator– until the time was right for democratic governance. (I’m pretty sure that was tongue in cheek…)
Anyway–remembering that essay question made me wonder how those of you who comment here might answer it. There are a lot of obviously bright, highly educated folks who offer thoughtful commentary to my daily meanderings, and I’d be very interested in your individual “pie in the sky” suggestions.
If you were answering my exam question, what social and political values would you make the centerpiece of a new world order? What systems would you build in, and what mechanisms for change? What problems do you wish America’s founders had foreseen, and how would you guard against the inevitable unforeseen, unfortunate consequences of your favored policy choices?
Go to it! Imagine a reboot of government– but no fair “rebooting” humans to make us nicer and less tribal and easier to govern. Just focus on the governance system…
If pigs could fly, what would your ideal government look like?