The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which it operates…only the most essential information is passed on… The marvel is that in a case like that of a scarcity…without an order being issued, without more than perhaps a handful of people knowing the cause, tens of thousands of people whose identity could not be ascertained by months of investigation, are made to…move in the right direction.
— Friedrich A. Hayek, The Use of Knowledge in Society, 1945
Here I show how the United States functions as a top-down political economy, how liquid democracy offers an alternative, and how this can improve the public space for everyone.
We live in a centrally planned democracy
Like the private market, the economy of politics is subject to supply and demand.
We choose from the supply of politicians.
By voting, we demonstrate demand.
But in the US, we only vote nationally every 2 years.
This limits the rate of feedback within the system.
Furthermore, our electoral process artificially constrains supply. Voters’ options are limited to those at the top of the ballot, picked by the RNC/DNC. Winner-take-all elections means that a vote for anyone other than the two front-runners goes “wasted”.
Size of the signal
The 535 members of the 114th Congress held 1829 roll call votes over their two year session. Since each can be yea or nay, that means
2 ^ 1829 possible outcomes.
And yet the other 300 million Americans are stuck with either red or blue, every two years.
Some elected reps make an incredible effort to connect with their constituents, and good for them. But that’s not necessarily common. Last month, 200 elected Republicans skipped their monthly town hall. Democrats do it too.
We can try to call our reps to share how we feel, but this process offers little accountability or transparency.
Traditionally, it has been too expensive to vote more often than we do now. Our democracy reflects the constraints of the time it was developed.
But our modern age appears to rapidly outpace our government’s capacity to respond.
Liquid democracy lifts restrictions
Liquid democracy uses modern technology to evolve our political process, offering new options for everyone.
All citizens will be able to use the Liquid platform to directly vote for and against legislation—something previously limited to the 0.0001% of elected legislators. Since voting can occur daily, rather than biennially, this massively expands our public space’s liquidity.
On top of this, individuals may select personal representatives to vote on legislation for them.
Now anyone can become a ‘liquid politician’. This greatly expands the political economy’s supply, since liquid politicians can still be influential without anywhere close to 50% of their jurisdiction’s vote. Liquid reps don’t need to quit their jobs, nor even vote directly, choosing instead to pass their voting power along to their own personal representatives.
And, liquid democracy still allows for all the options of our current system: a citizen can still choose a single individual to vote on all legislation for them.
Creating a smarter democracy
Because it includes so much more signaling information, liquid democracy can create better leaders and more widely supported policies.
Compare the Soviet centrally planned economy, which led to widespread poverty and starvation, vs free market economies’ undeniable wealth. Friedrich Hayek was awarded a Nobel prize for showing that by including millions of more participants, each sending their own supply & demand signals, orders of magnitude more peoples’ desires can be accommodated.
Hayak’s insight was that even if the central planning committee has the best of intentions, they’re too detached — they simply don’t have enough information — to effectively respond to the ongoing desires of an entire nation.
As a country, we’ve unlocked unprecedented wealth in our private sphere.
But our government representation leaves much to be desired.
Liquid democracy provides a path forward, enabling a free political economy.
We’re creating technology to allow liquid democracy at the local, state, and national level.
Show your support by signing up.
Thanks to Sergey Piterman, Jessica Kaller, and Nick Sippl-Swezey for suggestions.