How Would You Respond?

I have a favorite question I often include on my graduate-level take-home final. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer–the question is intended to make the student think about the role government plays in human society, the values that should constrain the use of power, the rules of behavior that are necessary and appropriate, and the practicality of the mechanisms chosen to enforce those rules.

How would you answer this 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 earth-like planet, and are preparing to create a government for the society you hope to establish. You want that government to be stable and enduring, but also flexible enough to meet unforeseen challenges. You also want to avoid the errors of the Earth governments that preceded you. What does your new government look like? What is its structure, and what powers will it exercise? How will those powers be limited? How will government officials and policies be chosen? What social and political values will it be based upon?