In preparation of the upcoming US presidential elections, now only days away, both WIRED and Monocle did the exercise and laid out the cards of their ‘dream’ cabinet … not necessarily of politicians, of people running for power by choice, but of individuals they see most fit for the job to solve at least some of the most pressing challenges that US society is facing. It would be all too easy to dismiss their move as technocratic dreamery. Times are achanging and systems of governance, leadership and societal problem solving are not immune to that.
It is an interesting thought experiment to ponder over the future of our socio-political systems, yet it is also true that the person who dares to ask ‘what comes next, after democracy?’ can be fairly sure to be looked upon in disbelief, fear or outright insult. We use the term democracy often lightly - and in the meantime do not always do justice to its complexity by dumbing it down to but the folk notions that fill the airwaves - as if the concept has remained the same since it was coined in the stoas and on the agoras of ancient Greece. The term has remained the same throughout the ages but what the complex denotes has changed and continues to change. To remain in sync with the dynamics of contemporaneity and those of times to come, systems (need to) change. Change does not necessarily mean that good characteristics of the current system will disappear (nor bad ones, sic) yet reinvention ought to aim for the best fit not on where we are but also in view of where we wish to go. So what are the images people have of the future of our socio-political and institutional systems? How far can we and do we dare to look ahead?
In times in which big, familiar ideologies are fading or have stopped reinventing themselves and the political landscape looks bleak, covered with visionless or populist rubble, in times in which change is fast, challenges are huge and increasingly exceed election cycles and national borders, imagine a future where perhaps not party-politics but projects to tackle challenges define the team and the dynamics of the game of governance and leadership, where not politicians but a diverse mix of people takes the lead , where management vs. innovation of the nation and its systems are perhaps two different games played by different groups of people, within different timeframes, where … There are many aspects of our current system that could be different in the future. A thousand tomorrows are possible for those who set their mind to it.
The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To
Dear President _________,
Congratulations! Now brace yourself for an avalanche of advice — from the 21 people in your Cabinet, from dozens of advisory councils, hundreds of members of Congress, thousands of lobbyists and pundits, and millions of voters. Everyone's got an opinion on what needs to be done. But the policies that emerge from such groupthink tend to be weird mashups of conflicting interests or warmed-over slabs of conventional wisdom. Enough of that. The country needs fresh directions and crisp action plans on intractable issues like climate change, energy, security, and defense. To help shape your thinking, we've come up with a Smart List of 15 Wired people with big ideas about how to fix the things that need fixing. Hail to the new chief — and please listen up.