Home > Capitalism, Community, Editorial, Education, Learning, Network, Politics, Society, Technology > The Constitution as Wiki, a thought experiment

The Constitution as Wiki, a thought experiment

January 26, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

As a thought experiment, imagine a situation in which the American constitution has been converted to a Wiki. In this simulation the document is now posted online as an editable document that all citizens can edit. Assume that all citizens have an equal access to the network and a personal terminal to make edits. Just as with Wikipedia, the community can remove edits deemed inappropriate or not reflective of the group’s collective opinion.

In this situation all citizens have access to the country’s governing document. All citizens can create legislation and pursue an active role in the development of the nation’s laws. Simple polls could dictate whether the country goes to war, increases the tax rate or even updates its national symbols. All details of the country would exist online and would be edited 24/7.

What are the benefits of such a system? What are the pitfalls?

Assumed occurences

As part of this simulation one must assume certain behaviors by the public. There are opinion based but crucial to predicting how the system will function. Here are my assumptions:

  • Popularity of the system would be high. A significant portion of the population would engage in editing the document.
  • A security system would exist so that only US citizens could make edits. All changes would be traceable.
  • Changes would be constant and laws would change quickly
  • Interactions occur on the individual level. A citizen edits as a single citizen, not as a corporation. (This directly disregards the Citizens United decision)

Dangers

Of course this system is a dangerous one. Among the many possible dangers is a system where editing is too rapid for public knowledge. Rapid changes might create a system where the community could not keep up. In such a system the enforcement of old laws or a failure to enforce new laws could be common.

Are there others?

Benefits

A major benefit of this system is increased engagement. The population with the ability to function directly with government could inspire unseen levels of civic interest and involvement.

The community as a whole would create laws that represented the collective population. Unlike our current system where power is distributed unequally; usually, on the basis of money, this system would give all citizens one vote. Here we have a connection to the Citizens United decision- there will be no votes for corporations in this wiki system. Only citizens can make edits.

Are there others?

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