If you don’t pay for the Wall Street Journal, you might not be able to see this article. Find a hack around the paywall and read it. It’s a really nice summation of where we are in America today and how we got here. The different political movements see the country very differently. They tally the successes very differently. However, the way forward isn’t how the game was played in the past.
Yuval Levin writes,
The greatest challenges that America now confronts are the logical conclusions of the path of individualism and fracture, dissolution and liberation that we have traveled since the middle of the last century. And the greatest resources at our disposal for tackling those challenges are the products of our having traveled this path too. We face the problems of a fractured republic, and the solutions we pursue will need to call upon the strengths of a decentralized, diffuse, diverse, dynamic nation.
I agree. The way forward is not centralization. The way forward is not via elite experts that think about things and send solutions out to people. Network beats hierarchy. Everything is becoming unbundled. Software is eating the world. Everyone is a node on a network.
We have the power of decentralization in the palm of our hands. Americans have embraced decentralized networks to solve all kinds of business problems. Why not the government?
To be clear, I am not talking about elected representatives. I am talking about the centralized bureaucracy that grows every year in Washington. This whole branch of the government can be disrupted.
Check out the offices in the Presidential cabinet. All these department heads oversee their own vast bureaucracy. They all can be disrupted and made better. Education, Health Care, Farm Policy, Food Policy, Finance, Housing, Urban and Rural Development, Welfare, Interior, Transportation, Energy, Labor, and Veterans Affairs can be totally remade. They could become nimble organizations.
Levin is correct when he says there isn’t a Presidential candidate out on the trail that is talking about that. Democrats are living in the past and speak as if it’s 1965. Republicans are full of nostalgia too, and speak as if it’s 1981. Trump doesn’t have anything forward looking-but correctly says they are all “horrible”. Sanders doesn’t have a realistic way forward but correctly points out injustice.
This is not just about turning power over to, and sending money to the states and cities. It’s seminal. It’s rethinking the entire process and way government interacts with people. In a way, decentralizing and thinking about the government as it relates to one individual is exactly the way the Founders thought about it. However, it’s not been really technologically possible until today.
Powerful forces will fight change. Public sector unions, and major corporations will fight it tooth and nail. Elites, that have gotten comfortable with power will fight too.
This is not some later 21st century futuristic idea. America can do this now. Government needs to think like a startup. If government doesn’t change, Americans can look forward to being both fiscally, and morally bankrupt.