how about voting for stuff instead of people?

Most of what big corps do these days, and we as their customers, involves voting for stuff instead of people.  Oh yes.  Right.  So some famous person will advertise a brand, and you’ll say: “Hey, that famous person is using this product, so why don’t I?”

On the other hand, think of the really big brands.  Take Apple, for example.  Sure.  The occasional person in amongst the apps.  But mainly: “Look at these apps, look at what they can do for you!”  Even apps which substitute personal assistants, for goodness sake.

So I’ve been wondering this evening on my Twitter account exactly how that might translate to politics.

Imagine we had a voting system where the ballot paper had a hugely long list of policies on it.  In fact, in a techie age, we could have a database with all the world’s policies which anyone had ever proposed, drawn up or implemented.

It might take a while to vote on the day of the election, mind.

Let’s just suppose in our system the policies which appear on the ballot paper are those that the duly registered political parties have put forward.


Like proportional representation, you’d put a mark or a number – or whatever it ended up being – next to the policies in each different area of government you were most approving of.

The numbers would then be crunched and the result would work as follows:

  1. Each party would be assigned the departmental responsibilities that related to the most voted policies corresponding to their manifestos.  If more than one party had the winning policies in their manifestos, they’d have to negotiate with each other which concrete individuals would be responsible for each post in question (secretary of state, sub-secretary of state, special adviser, whatever …).
  2. The policies implemented would be as per the election results.  It would be absolutely clear which policies the country’s voters would want.  As suggested previously, the parties responsible for implementation would be as per the manifestos and their correspondences to the aforementioned election results.
  3. The advantage of such a system is that we could have our coalition-government cake and eat it.  Coalition government would no longer gobble up pre-election promises in backroom beer and sandwiches.  That is to say, with one election result, we – the voters – would directly define the policies; would indirectly define the political make-up of the government; would ultimately control the development of parliamentary process; and would, finally, be free to avoid the terrible sinking feeling on election day that our votes, at best, were going to the least evil alternative.

Of course, in order to have a new system of voting, you’d need to operate on the basis of previous experience.  But the previous experience has already been mentioned: corporate capitalism has so fine-tuned our ability to choose stuff without people having to do anything – indeed, more and more the stuff that people make and sell contains and inscribes the values that encourage them to act as they do – that turning an object-orientated universe of politicos preserved in marketing aspic into an object-orientated universe of policy diamonds all voters could examine in the light of empowered voting … well, it doesn’t take too much of an imagination to realise how beautiful and democratising this could be.

In essence, then, what I’m proposing is we start to vote on stuff, first and foremost.  Not individuals; not parties … let them appear, properly engaged, at the end of the process in as natural way as possible.

Let the voters be in charge: for example, let it be possible for us to vote into power a government which is both in favour of better funding for national security and against more random dragnet surveillance!

If we could achieve the latter, in a watertight voter-controlled coalition process such as the one I describe, we could surely deal with almost any sociopolitical conundrum the future might hold.

And certainly, without any doubt at all, energise the desire and intention to vote in future elections.

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