10.9.09

It's the structure, stupid

I seem to be an American plagued by an unnatural interest in the rules that structure political contests.  Perhaps this goes back to my old love of games and sports—competitive activities in which I enjoyed discovering the ways that rules shaped strategies and outcomes.  Perhaps because I followed in the footsteps of my father to become a military officer—an officer of the government.  There's that bit in the oath about defending the Constitution "against all enemies, foreign and domestic."  That sounds bad-ass to a 22-year-old, and also might get you interested in the contents of the document you're oath-ing about.  Combine these risk-factors with my education as an engineer, with its problem-solving and design-oriented elements, and you've got a guy who, when faced with any routine type of political dissatisfaction, wants to trace it to the underlying design of governmental/political institutions.  There's a scene in The Aviator when Leo DiCaprio as soon-to-be-crazy Howard Hughes starts saying "Show me all the blueprints" over and over.  That's me!  Any political problem you got?  I'm gonna say show me the blueprints.  Show me the Constitution.  Show me the rules and I'll show you why you're screwed.  And maybe how you could get un-screwed—in theory, if not in actuality.  Sorry, my real-world superpowers are sadly limited.

I didn't stay in the military, and even while I was in it, I was on a leftward spiritual and political journey of sorts, from I-can't-be-sure-but-MAYBE-I-supported-Reagan in 1980 (age 16) to Nader-supporting-Green-Party-pseudo-activist in 2000 (age 36) to my current political stance, which I suppose I'd call something like libertarian socialist if I had to give a name to it and because if it's good enough for Noam, its good enough for me.  Although for sheer coolness and marginality, independent of any supposed content, I like the sound of post-anarchist better.  Or maybe I'm a budding/wannabe Engaged Buddhist.  That sounds almost respectable.  But I'm already married.  Badda-bing.

But enough about me.  This here blog is supposed to be about figuring out how we Americans could have a better Constitutional structure that DIDN'T work against our professed principles of popular sovereignty, political equality, and other good stuff we supposedly believe in.  That's what I'd call Real Government, versus what we've got now, Fake Government—fake because it claims to be one thing but is actually something else by design.  Smart alec foreigners will tell you they've already figured it out, what with their parlimentary systems and their proportional representation, and they'd be correct.  But that would be "too easy" and wouldn't scratch my engineer's itch to design better, from scratch.

To be clear, I'm not saying the modern nation-state as we know it is the ultimately desirable form of social organization (UDFOSO?)—far from it—but if we're gonna stick with that form in our uncertain future, let's at least do it right.  Jeez, y'all.

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