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?


And Now a Word from Our Sponsor…

As you can see, my website/blog has been updated. (I would say I’d updated it, but that would be inaccurate–my tech whiz son, who does this for a living, did the work.)

This may be a good time to explain my approach to this whole blogging thing.

You may have noticed that I rarely weigh in to the sometimes lively conversations taking place in the comments section. There are several reasons for that: unless the discussion turns on a totally erroneous read–a clue that I’ve not been as clear as I’d hoped–my preference is to allow commenters to “talk amongst yourselves.” Plus, I have a day job that doesn’t leave me a lot of time to engage in lengthy discussions.

I am grateful to commenters who point out factual errors, or provide missing context to a discussion. And I try to resist the temptation to block the folks who are unpleasant when they disagree with me. (I do wonder about people who consistently visit and comment on a blog written by someone with which they vehemently disagree–do they think angry ripostes will change my political perspective? But hey–whatever floats your boat!)

The one rule, which I fortunately have had to invoke very few times, is no name-calling. Arguments and disagreements are fine, even when somewhat less than polite, but when people post invective, especially invective aimed at other commenters, I will block those posts.

I have really enjoyed the back-and-forth, the illuminating information, and the thoughtfulness that most of my commenters display. I’m delighted when my often snarky observations can spark a real conversation. I hope you all like the new format–and I especially hope you will all continue to visit.

Now, back to our program…..


Good Journalism

Jim Lehrer recently announced a change of name and some changes of format to what was previously the McNeill Lehrer report. As one blogger who reported on the changes noted, Lehrer has consistently approached the news with a certain seriousness and depth that is virtually non-existent on television anymore.

Last week in a piece about the show’s latest changes (new name, revamped website, etc.), Lehrer outlined his “guidelines… of what I like to call MacNeil/Lehrer journalism.”  If everyone followed these rules, we might all breathe sighs of relief. Here they are:

    •  Do nothing I cannot defend.
    • Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
    • Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
    • Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
    • Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
    • Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
    • Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
    • Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions. No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
    • I am not in the entertainment business.

As important as all of these are, I REALLY like the last one.