Scene 6: Julian learns about the Amendment


Julian Amendment

Julian had tried out Know The System, and he liked it.  No, much more than that: he had to admit that he was completely blown away by it.  Unsurprisingly, the graphics leaped out at him—they had evolved not only in terms of realism but also in the way visual elements intuitively built up and morphed.  He couldn’t help wonder about the production cost, and mused that technology probably had improved the economics.  Beyond that, though, was how “conversational” it all felt – particularly, in the way it frequently offered him a brief menu of options, each of which always seemed relevant to his train of thought.  It really felt like there was an eager tutor there, behind the veil, anxious to zero in on exactly what he wanted.  (He knew, or at least strongly believed, that there was not.)

Fairly quickly, he found a publicly-released draft document that described Congressional expectations about many of the implementation details for the Amendment.  It was acknowledged that, if ratified, rollout would immediately require additional legislation, and that some contentious items would inevitably be adjudicated in the courts.  The document included proposals concerning the test-design process and the content of the test itself.

He also found the actual text of the Amendment:

Amendment XXXV.   “Effective Democracy Amendment.”

Section 1.  In any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, votes cast by citizens of the United States who have attained to the Age of thirty Years and have demonstrated understanding of national issues evidenced by successful passing of an authorized Test, shall be accorded a double weight.

Section 2.  Congress shall have the responsibility to enforce this Article through legislation to create and administer appropriate Tests.  Such Tests shall be designed and validated as unbiased with respect to race, gender, religion, and political party.  Any citizen who takes and does not pass the Test may attempt the Test again after no less than one year.  Passing of the Test by a citizen affords double weight to their votes for the next ten Years of that citizen’s life.

Section 3.  This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Finally, Julian learned about some of the controversies relating to the test content.  He surmised that a small industry had already emerged to analyze the projected effects of different types of test questions on the failure rates of different segments of the electorate.  By most accounts, Globalist-leaning citizens were expected to fail the most frequently.  Meanwhile, Libertarians had been arguing—contra the Globalists and Socialists—for testing that was heavily focused on economics topics.  Though, existing laws could serve to thwart such an aim.

He later asked Eva Florez about it.  “What do you think?” he asked.  “What kind of questions would be fair, or unfair?”

Senator Florez nodded earnestly.  “Well, you understand that I am biased, of course.”  She smiled.

“Sure.”  (Julian knew she was a member of the Libertarian Party.)

“And that, right now, getting the Amendment passed now is more important than what the specific test questions will be.   So, here’s most Libertarians’ view: our government’s main job is to make sure the economy is strong, and so we need the political will to enact the right policies for that.  Smart voting is needed.  As for other types of non-economic policies...those are less vulnerable to ignorant voting.  So, why test people about that?”

“Ok,” said Julian uncertainly.

“Certainly will never ask you to take my word for any of this.  And the science of economics is quite a bit broader than it was in your day.  But I am curious... if you think back to how well the government did with the economy back in your day—fiscal, and regulatory policy... what did you observe?  How well did it work, from your perspective?”

Rather shyly, Julian offered, “Well, I think monetary policy was good, because the Fed was independent.   As for the rest of it... geez, it’s hard to generalize.  The US was very prosperous.  I guess the rising deficits were a problem.  And all the red tape that businesses had to deal never stopped!”

Casually (and carefully avoiding any hint of patronizing), Florez commented, “Sure, makes sense.  So, maybe you’re saying, the economy did well in spite of the government?”

Julian nodded.  “I think that’s fair.”