Principles of collective delegation
"As few people as possible do as little as possible, and get the most results."
The goal of political engineering is amplification: generating the most power from the least work. As few people as possible do as little as possible, and get the most results.
Voting in an election is a collective action. A group agrees to some collective political action. Either this is a direct action, like a California referendum, or an indirect action, like a Presidential election.
In indirect action, the collective, desiring some result, decides to achieve this result by delegating their authority to some representative. This system of government is often known as representative democracy.
As a political machine, representative democracy can function poorly in three ways. One, it can miss its threshold—losing the election. Two, it can win the election, but have low amplification—even after winning the election, the politician has little or no power. Three, it can win the election, but have low fidelity—the politician does have power, but does not act according to his promises and/or the wishes of the voters.
Where are we on this? As most people would say intuitively, representative democracy in the late 20th and early 21st centuries is both low-amplification and low-fidelity. The purpose of political engineering in the present day is to rectify both these problems, while recognizing the inevitable tradeoff between them.
Delegation should be laminar and lossless
We can think of the low-amplification and low-fidelity quality of the relationship between American voters and their politicians as a general failure of delegation.
The voters feel they have popular sovereignty, but they exercise this sovereignty by delegating it to the politicians. The politicians exercise only a negligible fraction of the sovereignty that the voters have delegated to them.
They are pretending to govern. So they are pretending to their supporters that the reins of government are in their hands. So they are unavoidably complicit in the theft of sovereignty from the voters. No politician can avoid this complicity and none, once complicit, has an incentive to expose it. Let us not focus on the criminal aspect; let us be positive, and try to understand how a delegation of sovereignty should work.
One way to think about collective delegation is to think about individual delegation. Whether the delegator is individual or collective, the principles do not change.
Effective delegation—like the way a CEO should delegate to a VP of Engineering—has two basic principles. One: delegation should be as laminar as possible. Two: delegation should be as complete as possible.
Delegation is not laminar if multiple delegates have overlapping loci of authority—for example, if the VP of Engineering has to fight over technology decisions with the VP of Research. The opposite of laminar is, of course, turbulent.
Delegation is not lossless if the power of the delegate, within his locus of authority, is significantly lower than the power of the delegator—for instance, if the VP of Engineering has to run routine engineering decisions past the CEO. The opposite of lossless is, of course, lossy.
When delegation is turbulent or lossy, issues with amplification, fidelity or both arise. We take these problems for granted. But should we?
There is always a tradeoff between democratic fidelity and democratic amplification.
Intuitively, if you trust your politician, you have to give him a lot of rope. If you don’t trust him, you shouldn’t elect him. If you do trust him, micromanaging him reduces his power, often trading large declines in amplification for small increases in fidelity.
Worse, the declines in amplification become declines in fidelity—as a weak politician often has no choice but to betray his voters. While fidelity is always desirable, almost all the ways of enforcing it are counterproductive.
So the most effective political-engineering designs ignore fidelity almost completely—or at least, leave fidelity to mere human trust—and focus on amplification.
A low-amplification election is a low-fidelity election by definition. Its outcome is that some other power, not the election winner, is more in charge of the government. Ultimately, this power has no reason to obey the voters.
Indeed, inevitably, over time, the voters will come to obey this immovable power—since the organs which guide the public mind will come to serve and agree with it.
The only way for the public to free itself from such a power is to make politics more powerful. A public which disdains politics and politicians also disdains elections and democracy. Such a public will never gain any power through electoral democracy, since it does not even believe in its own collective right to rule.
And since this attitude is the deeply-instilled status quo, the public cannot restore democracy except by learning to hack democracy—not to disable it, but to renew it.
This high-amplification democracy, a democracy that actually works, will strike the oligarchy it replaces as lawless. It is anything but lawless. It is a renewal of law in a lawless and bureaucratic world that barely understands the ancient concept of law.
Indeed, its first step is just to read the actual law literally—by taking the Constitution at its literal world.
The constitutional presidency
Taking the Constitution seriously means taking it literally. Taking the Constitution literally means literally making the President the CEO of the executive branch.
A constitutional President has no reason at all to preserve anything more than small fragments of the current “executive branch,” which is actually the legislative branch (since its budget, policy and personnel are mandated by Congress). For the most part, reconstituting the executive functions of the USG, where they are actually needed, will be far easier and more efficient with a completely new executive organization.
This renewal or rectification of Washington, and of American governance in general, can only begin with a a President who asserts that executive power is absolute. Marbury v. Madison was wrongly decided. The roles of the Congress and Supreme Court, while important, are purely advisory. The President has no obligation to obey their advice.
Only the American people are superior to the President. Only the American people can decide a dispute between the coequal branches of government. And they only get to do that every four years. Between elections, the President is Caesar. And he never more needs to be Caesar than when unwinding this illegitimate regime.
If this new President, now the CEO of America, fails to enforce the bills that Congress passes, or the opinions that the Supreme Court decrees, there is only one remedy. The people, at the next election, must express their disapproval by electing a different President. If they instead express continued confidence in their President, he has done his job—and Congress and the Court have not done theirs. For this is America, home of popular sovereignty, where the people reign supreme.
The Supreme Court is explicitly an undemocratic institution; the Congress, with its stratospheric incumbency rates and gerontocratic seniority system, is implicitly one. All the loss of democratic amplification in the American electoral system comes from the veto of the undemocratic branches over the democratic branches. This veto, nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, has outlived its usefulness.
Removing this false power, making the President the rightful, unconditional CEO of the entire executive branch—just as it says in the Constitution—restores American democracy and popular sovereignty. The best way to steal an election is to block the winner’s power. Such a theft need not be punished—just unconditionally reverted.
In the new regime, the function of the other two branches is to advise the President. Once Congress and the Court learn to provide serious, useful and sensible laws and decisions to the President, the President will begin to take these organs seriously. He can be as patient as he needs to be in this matter.