Imagine a world where citizens got to voice their opinions on important issues, and those opinions formed the basis of how decisions were made at the highest level.
Imagine a world where prospective representatives told citizens what they stood for and then invited those citizens to elect them into government.
Which one is better?
I think that a bit of both is the answer, unfortunately in our current system it is more representative driven than citizen driven, and I think we have got the balance wrong.
I keep hearing those stale old words, “citizens get their choice every three years” but that choice is corrupted by a few things
- Corrupted by the thought that it is possible for one person to understand let alone represent the view of each citizen in their electorate
- Corrupted by the thought that that the views of the representative and their electors will be consistent across the board, and
- Corrupted by the idea that nothing new happens requiring discussion between election cycles.
So I’d like our system to have a little more balance.
On Q&A a couple of weeks ago the idea of a citizens assembly was posed. An assembly where communities would discuss, debate and decide on the things that were important to them – to gain the grass roots opinion on important issues such as marriage equality, the environment, our refugee processing policies, education, health and any other burning issues that the community wanted the government to be informed on.
I like this idea, rather than relying on opinion polls to send messages to the government, what if we designed a collaborative model where all citizens could be heard and where policy could be affected based on the opinions of citizens not the conscience of a single representative or policy of a party machine?
Government could still do what they thought was best, but they couldn’t pretend it was because they had a mandate where there wasn’t one.