23 March, 2007

Politicians' promises database

One can often hear, especially near the election time, how someone who wants to get (re)elected speaks about his or her promises, that were either fulfilled by the hard work of the speaker, or failed, due to the obstruction of the evil opponents. Either way, says the the election-hopeful, you should elect me to the office, so I could continue actually doing the good deeds or fighting those who oppose them.

And certainly, the pre-election promises are often exaggerated, either by the candidate s themselves, if the promises were at least partially fulfilled, or by their opponents, if the said promises never materialized. In the latter case the mere existence of such promises is denied fiery.

Well, it used to be rather hard to prove or disprove whether the particular public words were said or not, and even if someone could do that, their claims could be easily refuted. Really, whom are you going to believe, the smiling successful pillar of the community and the farther of three adorable daughters, or some unwashed girl in broken glasses who spent the whole week in the library, "digging up all this nonsense"? The sad fact that most people would side with the former brings us to the necessity of the easily accessible promises database, that anyone could query.

And the necessary technology actually does exist today, a wiki-like engine is perfect for this kind of thing, the only thing that is needed is some sort of an operational protocol. Here's how it could work:

- Together with announcing the candidacy, a record in the web-accessible database is created and each candidate fills in his or her ideas on what should the targeted office do about "issues".
- During the campaign these ideas/promises can be updated but not too often, and each update should have a comment explaining the reason for the change.
- Once the elections are done, the database is frozen (the office-elect may only attach progress reports) and it becomes easy for anyone to see, what was and what wasn't done.

From the technical perspective, a couple of simple but effective tampering-prevention measures should be taken: copies of the database should be regularly mailed (on a CD) to anyone interested, and there should be several mirrors of the website. But, more importantly, the database should be universally accepted socially, so anyone with too many unexplained discrepancies in the database becomes a political corpse instantly.

The system could later be upgraded to something similar to what they had on the planet Tranai.

No comments: