Biased Towards Bigger Government
Previously, I made a pitch for an improved form of representative democracy: score voting. With Score Voting we could ditch the two-party duopoly and explore incremental versions of many different ideologies: libertarianism, market environmentalism, Christian liberalism, Georgism, Objectivism, Darwinism, or whatever. While radicals of any school would still have difficulty getting elected, different districts could tentatively explore a few of many possible directions. Our state and local governments would become true laboratories of democracy. Meanwhile, our national legislatures would be filled with a variety of near-moderates; diverse enough to represent the nation while moderate enough to work together. Power would likely flow back from the executive to the legislative branch. We would be a working republic once again, instead of elected near dictatorship (in the classical sense).
Some of you received the idea warmly. Others were troubled. A more democratic system means rule by the median voter, and many of you distrust the median. With the median voter in charge, would we get even more largesse for the middle class? A more progressive income tax? Protectionism? Persecution of minorities?
Legitimate concerns all, but I think a bit misplaced. The median voter is no libertarian, for sure, but government has grown beyond the median voter's desires. We are biased towards bigger government, in several ways.
Civil servants and other recipients of government largesse vote for more. As the number of government employees, contractors and subsidy moochers grows, so grows the demand for bigger government. Moreover, these are the people who show up to vote even when the general public is disengaged. Reengage the general public; make elections interesting contests instead of coronations for incumbents; and the special interests lose some clout. Score Voting has the potential to reduce this bias somewhat, but by no means completely.
The bigger bias, however, is ideological. Our two-party duopoly virtually guarantees that government will ratchet ever upwards. Have a look at this political map. We have a bigger government party of the Left and a party of the Right which includes both big and small government coalition members. The aforementioned map is not the Nolan Chart, BTW, but a map using Left and Right in a more traditional sense: Left means a call for a more egalitarian society and looking out for the poor; Right means defense of the existing order, including wealth distribution. The Democratic Party is dominated by moderate socialists and welfarists. The Republican Party represents defense against the Democrats. The Republican Party thus contains a fair number of free market capitalists, but it is also the home of mercantilists, militarists, authoritarian traditionalists, crony capitalists, and others who wish to preserve economic elite.
The existing alignment makes government ratchet upwards. The Republicans increase the demand for socialism by widening the wealth gap, and the Democrats provide it. The United States lacks a party of the Upper Left, a party which calls for smaller government and a narrower wealth gap. So government grows bigger and the wealth gap widens. Since our society moves Down and to the Right due to systemic bias, it is reasonable to hypothesize that the median voter is somewhere in the Upper-Left quadrant. A new political party which occupies this quadrant might well become a dominant party.
But starting a new party under current conditions is a problematic indeed, and I doubt this audience is much interested in taking on such a risky and expensive venture. Our other option is to open the market to new parties -- or new non-party political factions. That is, with Score Voting in place we can expect one or several new parties of the Upper Left to enter the political market. With the Lower-Right ideological bias gone, we have hope of shrinking government back to the size desired by the median voter. And with government thus shrunk, the civil service/special interest bias shrinks as well. Positive feedback might work in our favor for a change.