Representative democracy is sooo last century.
What should democracy look like? There is no standard set of features that comprise a “democracy,” though literally thousands of years of debate regarding what constitutes true democracy lie behind us.
A recent effort to quantify and classify democracies and non-democracies is the The Economist magazine’s biennial Democracy Index. It’s worth perusing as there are some surprises. The United States is in tier one, a “full democracy,” but not at the top. The Scandinavian nations are perennial chart-toppers. The top four are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden. The U.S. is 19th on the list, just below the UK and just above Costa Rica.
Iraq, a fledgling “democracy,” according to our mainstream media spin, is 112th on the list and is a “hybrid regime,” only four spots above the lowest category, “authoritarian regime.” Russia doesn’t even do that well and is categorized as an authoritarian regime, at 117, despite its trappings of democracy. China does even worse, at 141, with its one-party state. Saudi Arabia worse still, at 161, lacking even a pretense of democracy. North Korea bottoms the list at 167.
The Economist ranks countries based on five dimensions: electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties. Clearly, these are not easily quantifiable and there is certainly room for debate on each dimension.
Anyway, this is just one effort among many ways to categorize democracy. This essay focuses on ways to improve even the best democracies, but also looks forward to the next few decades in terms of how even the worst countries may evolve eventually into a generally borderless and peaceful world.
We now have the tools, with the Internet, mobile computing, and many software platforms, to bring about more direct democracies in many ways – instead of the representative democracy or republic forms of government that have passed for the best type of democracy to date. The rise of “wiki government” – also known as e-democracy, wiki democracy, liquid democracy, and many other terms – is among other benefits an antidote to corruption. We can at this point in time transition to online voting for all elections, while ensuring maximum security as we do so. We can also expand the types of issues that we can vote on far beyond the traditional voting categories of voting on elected officials and, in states like California, initiatives, and occasional recalls.
Read the rest here.