In light of the recent revolution in Lebanon, many issues have come to light and many others remain undiscussed. With no clear solution in sight, Lebanon remains at the same standpoint it has been at for over thirty years: how can we achieve a true democratic balance in a very small country made up of so much diversity without offending, demonising or diminishing the importance of any one group over others. Before we delve deeper into what I think may be bold enough to work, let’s see what Lebanon is made of that we can use:
1- Lebanon is a very highly educated country with a huge number of people having university degrees, which means that they have the basic skills needed to read, research and understand … when they want to.
2- Even though electricity, mobile and internet in Lebanon are still a bit behind, most people above the age of 18 have access to a mobile phone or to internet.
3- We have 128 members of parliament and around 30 to 40 ministers in addition to a persident… all of whom get paid, rip off the country, yet achieve nothing.
So here’s what we’re going to do:
First, the #kellon_ye3ne_kellon movement can’t be more right. We don’t need them… and we don’t need others either. Instead, let’s just make a simple polling app that truly reflects the people’s choices. Instead of choosing members of parliament who end up representing themselves instead of the choices of the people who elected them in, each person can get his/her voice heard.
The way the app works is simple: any citizen who has a good enough idea backed by research can upload that idea onto the platform. This idea has to be complete and also has to mention who will lead it if it’s voted through, in addition to any other relevant data such as projected deadlines, how many job opportunities it will create, how much it will cost, etc… Once that idea is live on the platform, any verified citizen who is eligible to vote can vote for or against it. Moreover, each idea will be accompanied by a forum where it is discussed, improved and remodled if needed. A person who votes has the right to change his vote until a set deadline; however, if a suggested change is adopted by the creator of the idea before that deadline, the timer is reset to allow people who voted to check the changes and decide whether they want to keep or change their vote. By the end of the voting period, if that idea is voted upon positively by more than a certain percentage of the Lebanese people registered to vote (let’s say half), it gets adopted and the funds needed for it are allocated. After it begins to be applied, people can always log in to check on the latest updates regarding it and to give feedback. If the feedback turns negative, another vote may be initiated to torpedo the idea being currently applied and to stop its execution.
I am sure there are many downsides to this idea, so I have worked out what some of them may be and how we can overcome them.
First, how can we ensure that it is a truly thought out vote and not just a popularity contest? Since most of the Lebanese population is educated enough to read, before voting, each person has to answer a certain number of random multiple-choice questions about the idea. If the voter gets all answers correct, then that means that he/she has understood what they are voting for. Moreover, popular ideas will also get picked up and discussed by media, thereby making people think even more about their choices before voting. The test is to ensure that they are not just voting for the same old people in a more convoluted way.
The second hole that can be poked in this idea is what if the platform was hacked? Solving that is actually easier than solving the mystery of the disappearing election boxes. Technology is evolving, hacking is evolving, but also anti-hacking technologies. We just need to make sure that we keep getting the best; however, I think the benefits of implementing this idea vastly outweighs the risks of keeping the same archaic system we have.
Another problem that might come up by implementing this idea is regarding people who don’t have access to internet or mobiles. I am sure that, if someone is really keen to vote, they will definitely find a way; however, if we want to make it easier for them, we can do what other normal countries do: public libraries with computer and internet access for everyone.
The last problem that I can think of is related to the minority of uneducated people. To be honest, I know it’s not their fault that they weren’t educated; however, there are many free literacy programs that they can make good use of if they really wanted to; otherwise, they shouldn’t be voting anyway. We can’t be trusting the fate of a country to someone who is uneducated and who doesn’t have the will to become educated.
In the end, I am sure that there are many more holes that you can poke into my model for a leaderless democracy; however, I am also sure that every problem has a solution. Not only will adopting such a system make Lebanon a true democracy, but it will also help us save on the salaries of the current buffoons that have been governing the country towards destruction. Think about it: how easy would it be to repay our country’s debts once we have gotten rid of them?