Would you give 30%-50% of your income, every month, to a remote group of 120 people who cannot agree on anything, and ask them to invest it for the future of your children?
Would you trust those distant investors, who hold strong private interests you know nothing about, to take the right decisions under pressure that will serve you and your family?
With elections around the corner, one wonders, will this really make a difference? The short and practically sad answer is: No. Try and scratch your head to determine when elections led to a significant change in Israel’s state of affairs. It is a costly, sometimes fun-to-watch process. But have we ever witnessed indisputable significant post-election outcomes?
When our computers are not capable of serving our needs, we tend to upgrade them. We can either improve our existing hardware, or upgrade the computer’s operating system software. Israel’s current operating system works according to the questions above. It’s time for an urgent software update. Our system is in a serious security risk.
But what is actually so wrong with our current system? We are a wonderful Western democracy at the midst of a region full of dictatorships and chaos. Our computer is doing really well compared to the ones down the row. But is it doing what we would like it to do? Does it take care of the pressing internal problems – immigration, education, income inequalities, giant monopolies, distribution of public goods, unreasonable cost of living, struggling minorities, and lack of basic integration of different layers in our great society? These are relatively ‘soft’ problems compared to the mighty historical conflict that some politicians swear we will never solve.
Two main problems prevent us from effectively tackling our soft, ‘soon-to-be-real-threats’, problems:
- Our elected officials do not represent all classes, sectors, and interests of the Israeli society. We should be very lucky to find a public representative who really serves a paradigm, an idea, rather than his party and close friends.
- Our elected officials are rational. They are mainly concerned with regaining their seat in the next elections. This is what rational politicians do. Future? Children? Sit down please.
The term ‘elected officials’ is inherent to both problems. In an era of increased-connectivity, flow of information, and wide social and professional networks, we still rely upon 120 somewhat disconnected members to represent the interest of all of us and work for our greater good. Moreover, we simply hand 30% (in case we’re lucky) to 50% of our salary, also known as income-tax, to distant investors who are supposed to wisely invest our money in our future. Isn’t that weird? I’ve never seen, not to mention talked with, a representative who works for me, play with my money, and take decisions on my behalf. It just does not make any sense.
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, had intensively toured the country to look at people’s eyes and understand where they are coming from. We do not need a politician to dedicate his ‘best’ years to tour our country. We just need regional representatives who will take care of the interests of their region and meet their constituencies once a month to understand what bothers them. Once a week they can go and vote for laws, sit in committees, have fun. The rest of their week will be devoted to listening and working for us, among us, with us, on a daily basis.
But how do we eliminate the rational, self-interest, short-term approach of elected officials? We simply wouldn’t have any option to vote for them again. No matter how skillful and effective they were. Each representative will serve three years and will have to leave office. Every three years, different people, from various sectors, will represent and work for us. No one can get re-elected.
The city of Porto Alegre in Brazil has demonstrated how effective regional leaders can be. In order to decide on the city’s municipal budget, the population debates, defines, and decides on the priorities and suitable ways to invest the money of the citizens. They were able to come up with a participatory budget model that is decided based on the real needs of the city’s residents. Indeed, the race is long and the shift seems radical. But the concept of regional connected leaders has already proved itself. In education for instance, the new budget had duplicated the number of enrollments and upgraded the quality of education.
One-time elected officials, who sit at their home district, and have to quit office every three years, is the way to deal with Israel’s ‘soft’ problems. Because the upcoming years will not determine the levels of our personal security, they will determine the future strength of our society. Strength that our founding Zionist fathers had passionately advocated for. Therefore, our current disconnected & self-interested representatives are not the open-source platform we desperately need. Well-connected, regional leaders, who serve only a single term, would significantly decrease the importance of national elections and allow us all to fully laugh at the current fiasco we are watching.