A funny Slate article “If It Happened There … the Government Shutdown (How would we report on the government shutdown if it were happening in another country?)” is really hilarious, though a bit toothless:
With hours remaining until the government of the world’s richest nation runs out of money, attention now focuses on longtime opposition leader John Boehner, under pressure from both the regime and the radical elements of his own movement, who may be the only political figure with the standing needed to end the standoff.
While the country’s most recent elections were generally considered to be free and fair (despite threats against international observers), the current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime’s ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people, not to mention its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
That stops short of the usual conclusion the press makes in such cases – that we absolutely, positively and urgently need to arm Boehner’s supporters and bomb into dust rest of the country.
However, the Slate just reminded me old news about Texas’ Attorney General threatening OSCE observers by arrests and criminal charges if they come close to the polling stations. In prospectives of Snowden’s revelations about NSA hacker capabilities, the manual fraud, these observes were supposed to guard against, now looks like a child’s game. Hacking the computerized voting system would be much more effective and less detectable.
The scary, dark utopian thoughts aside (because that would be pretty trivial to do and boring to discuss) do we really need the outdated, old-fashioned formal voting procedures nowadays? With ubiquitous NSA’s surveillance capabilities we can get a near real-time state of the public sentiment about whole range of political issues. Ancient Greek political thinkers and philosophers were quite critical about efficiency of the democracy due to the high overhead of its procedures, even for small city-states.
Now, utilizing NSA’s resources and capabilities in the ways beneficial to society, we may reduce that overhead to zero, and get rid not only off the formal voting process for electing representatives, but the very representatives themselves. The laws could be developed and brought to the popular vote without the Congressional middle-men. Many of the functions of the Judicial and Executive powers may be implemented the same way by the real-time popular polling or more sophisticated surveys. The system which was a common place in the Soviet Sci-Fi Utopias, but technical capabilities were not there yet. Now we have them ready, sitting and waiting in Utah for the better use.