Friday, October 29, 2004

Redrawing Democracy: The First Defender Revisited

Recently, I've taken to studying up on the history of Islam. In the process, I found myself wondering how a "two branch" government could be constituted, one which lacked a Legislative branch, due to the existence of a corpus of laws (such as the Shariah, if I am spelling it correctly) which a nation believed sufficient for all things, interpreted properly. And, of course, law is interpreted by judges. Most Islamic lands had a traditional body which did just that (which argued continuously over how liberally to interpret the Qur·’an and the Shariah), which, due to the strength of tradition, was a real power to be reckoned with by the rulers of those lands.

With the preexistence of such a body of men, and the preexistent of such a body of law, the only question that remains is how to constitute an executive branch. While thinking on this, I came up with what I think of as a rather novel idea. The basic idea behind it is, rather than directly electing a chief executive, and making all his underlings appointive, why not instead elect the underlings, and have them select a chief executive for themselves?

You start by making a decision as to how large you can make a community without the people totally losing touch with their rulers. You then divide the country up into sections, perhaps using the method I described earlier, perhaps using some other common sense method. You then let them elect one person to serve as their protector, sort of a "chief executive" for that precinct. That person then becomes responsible for law and order, and perhaps services, within his area.

These people make a decision as to whom they need to be able to work with in order to do their jobs properly, say all the "captains" in a city (or even a particular section of the city), or a number of villages in a contiguous rural area. They then elect someone to be in charge of them, and he becomes responsible for the whole area, and coordinates their efforts where necessary. Their votes would, of course, be weighted by the number of people they serve (in the case where you're not trying to actually divide the country into divisions with an equal number of people).

Those people would then do the same thing the people under then did. For example, the guy in charge of a city would get together with the people in charge of nearby towns and rural areas, and *they* would appoint someone over them, on up to the point where the highest men in the country are appointing the chief executive.

What this would result in is the people that are in direct contact with the people are directly responsible to those people. The people above them are directly responsible to them. Nobody is ruled over by anyone abhorrent to them, and the directly elected men could serve as a sort of "buffer" against a chief executive gone horribly wrong.

These men would do their best to uphold the law in the places they are responsible for, but they would still have to bring the accused before a judge to actually enact punishment. "The Law" can have any source under this system (whether created by an elected legislature or handed down by a prophet such as Moses or Mohammed), these executives would still have to subject their judgments to the judgments of learned men selected by one means or another.

Anyway, I thought it was a cool idea. I do hope someone posts their thoughts (preferably about the method for creating an executive branch, rather than my ill-informed comments about religious law).