I was once involved in politics. I left mostly because of the tiring nature of the political game and the lack of truth-seeking.
Since then, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with how vapidly and evasively most politicians speak. The lack of in my view good parties has also frustrated me. Finally, I’ve been thinking that we should elect some sensible people rather than the hodgepodge of people and positions that parties today represent.
I hypothesize that politicians have such hopeless rhetoric is not because voters like it, but because it serves them in the party-internal power struggles. After all, each politician has a far larger influence on their relative position in the party than on the party’s position in the elections – at least in rather large elections. So maybe they behave like they do because they’re trying to please their fellow socialists, conservatives, etc.
In essence, becoming a candidate for some government wing, say, the parliamentary, is a popularity contest. And then comes the popularity contest that is the general election. Being popular is great and all, but I don’t think it should be the only way we elect our leaders.
The Merit Party
Based on this hypothesis, and inspired by one of Jason Brennan’s ideas put forward in his book Against democracy,
I’ve thought out the rough structure of a new party, the Merit Party (from meritocracy):
Anyone can become a member.
Candidates for elections
First, members decide (by voting) on some criteria by which candidates should be ranked. (The parliamentary election I know – in Norway – has candidates on lists, where the topmost candidate has the highest chance of becoming a member of parliament.)
I think the criteria should probably be some set of tests, possibly combined with other measurements and/or declarations. The most banal version would be an IQ test. In any case, the candidates are then ranked by their scores. It’s as simple as that.
The party would not have positions on policy. This is, among other things, to avoid confirmation bias and the incredibly dull debates where everyone talks past everyone else and no one learns anything. Also, it would enable the Merit Party to claim that they simply have competent people on their list.
Possible issues and further thoughts
This is a long shot and will probably not work. Right off the bat, I’d give it 10 percent. There are many issues, such as how to get a new party off the ground, how to find criteria that are sufficiently difficult to game, etc. But I still think it’s intriguing.
If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.