Our own Lord Vader has been thinking carefully about agency and what it means for politics. See Notes 1, 2, and 3. It’s good stuff. The man breathes so heavily because his brain needs the oxygen.

I’ve been thinking a bit along the same lines. Must be something in the air.

Self-government famously requires a responsible people.

Our current form of self-government is democracy and has been for awhile.

Democracy has some problems. One of them is that while it relies on having a responsible people voting, it does nothing to teach that responsibility. In fact, the democratic form pushes against responsibility. The thrifty farmer gets the same vote as the gambler and the drunk.

The traditional solution is to limit the franchise to people who have skin in the game. Skin in the game is Nature’s way of teaching responsibility. The idea is that folks who have skin in the game will vote responsibly, because their votes affect them. So you extend the franchise only to taxpayers, property holders, military veterans, married parents, or whatever.

That’s fine as far as it goes. But the responsibility is external to the system. It is, in a sense, imposed. And it is also arbitrary. There is nothing in the idea of voting for officials or referendums that inherently suggests limiting the franchise to the responsible. Moreover, “skin in the game” will always vary with the measure proposed so the match between the voters and the thing voted on is never very precise.

So here is a thought experiment. What would a voting system look like if voting actually created skin-in-the-game? If responsibility were inherent in the act of voting? The voting system would be designed so that the voters would be responsible for the measures they had voted in. Those who voted for war would have to fight and fund it. Those who wanted social services would be expected to staff and fund them. Your vote would not be a signal of what you wanted, but rather a commitment to working for what you wanted. Instead of the vote being a one-off fire-and-forget, your vote would be the entrance ceremony to a voting coalition that had some real institutional identity.

There are obvious practical problems. Defectors and such, especially for public goods like national defense. There may be no practical way of working around the practical problems. But I wonder if anyone has even tried?

While we are on the subject, how accurate is it to describe reality as a democracy where only one man gets to vote because only he experiences the consequences of anything and everything?

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