Time to Innovate Our Constitution #9 #cong17

By Maryrose Lyons.

Maryrose Lyons #9 Time To Innovate Our Constitution

Innovation is about change. It’s a mindset. And a highly desirable competency. Everyone’s desperate to prove how innovative they are, and the term has been hijacked alright.  Ina O’Murchu is right when she says it’s been hijacked by technology, but innovative thinking is applauded in all businesses, sectors, and industries. Innovate or die.  That’s what we’re led to believe.

So why doesn't that same psychology apply to politics?

The ability of firms like Cambridge Analytica to influence election results through their use of outlier influence technology, implies that democracy can now be bought.  This shadowy global operation specialises in delivering election results, most notably it played a huge part in Brexit, as it has been involved in targeting results for Trinidad and Tobago, and it’s powerful databases must have been in high demand in the US last autumn.  Cambridge Analytica specialises in finding “persuadable” voters and targets  people high in neuroticism, by finding the right set of emotional triggers for each individual voter.  With Cambridge Analytica and others like it, democracy must innovate or pretty soon, or it too will die.  (This is a great read on CA: )

As we in Ireland are about to enter into a period where citizens are being asked to vote on a huge number of referenda, many of them desperately needed admittedly, I ask you - isn't that just tinkering around the edges? Sticking plaster on the gaping wound that is derived from the fact that we are living in a modern multicultural, secular society, while being underpinned by a set of ideas that were written 100 years ago?  

Our current constitution is no longer fit for purpose. It was born out of a different time. Our forefathers couldn't have imagined the Ireland of today. And our fore-mothers weren’t even allowed to have their say! So why are we committing to continue to struggle to make it work? Isn't it reasonable that we consider a new constitution once every 100 years?

There are exciting and inspiring people-led movements taking place in other countries.  The Leap Manifesto that came out of Canada is a great example of how to bring disparate groups together to thinking progressively about solutions and not just reactions.

Can we have some of that please? Can we apply such big thinking to the Ireland we want for the future?  Why not innovate around the heart of our political structure?

Maybe it’s time to not be waiting for others to get this kind of thinking started? Because we are they.  We are the grown-ups, we contribute to society and we are entitled to demand some sort of change.

The politicians and the powers-that-be are never going to suggest this kind of radical thinking because it threatens their very structure, and why would anyone bite off the hand that feeds it?

We hear about all these great things that happen in other places: 

  • How in Iceland the bad bankers actually went to jail. 
  • How in Sweden they planning for a future where more people will not work due to Artificial Intelligence and its impact on humans in employment.
  • The way the Danes have assumed public ownership over their own environmental assets such as wind energy and air.

If you, like me, believe that now is the time to do something about it.  Let’s not just busy ourselves with being busy, but demand an alternative to 8 referenda at a cost of €114 million.   

Isn't Congregation the perfect place to allow ourselves space to imagine? To dream big about alternative futures?  Instigate a people-led movement that refuses to accept that things will always stay the way they are.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie