Friday, April 4, 2014

Nonconformist zones and the consent of the governed

Politics these days consists of trying to find a way to make the other side shut up, instead of trying to figure out how a large diverse group of people can live together peacefully and productively. The two big teams fight for a utopia where they have "won" and the other side, the bad guys, have given up on every issue. Somehow, I don't think it ever will happen.
Of course, trying to visualize cooperation between the two groups may be even more difficult. How can one part of the country embrace immigrants, while the rest reject them utterly? How can one part of the country have free markets, while the other regulates to the maximum? How can one subgroup embrace peace, while others pursue global military intervention? How will it work if some allow government to spy on them, and some don't, or some restrict their carbon footprint and others don't?
What if we took the idea of "consent of the governed" seriously? What would that look like? But first of all, why might we wish to do so? The consent of the governed, where governors paid attention to it, would restrict the action of governments to those which provide a benefit. That is, the consent of the governed would check tyranny. It would act as a safety value, releasing unwanted error, selfishness, and rigidity. It would make the people the rulers, so that our lives would not be ruled by the legislature's errors, or our social innovation limited by the legislature's imaginations.
How could this work? I'm not really sure, but a couple of possibilities keep suggesting themselves to me. 
Declare a free zone, where malcontents go to opt out. Expand it's borders as its population expands. If it turns into a western Hong Kong, all the better.
Restore federalism by renewing the principles of nullification and subsidiarity, all the way down, from central, to state, to county, to municipal, to land owner. This sounds a bit crazy, but how does it differ from the common law doctrine that parties to a contract may explicitly choose to go against law set by precedent, so far as it pertains to them and their contract?
What do you think? Does the consent of the governed mean anything if the governed have no way to provide feedback in favor of good ideas and against errors?

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