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Okay. This is the idea that I had.

Our colony ship left Earth, specifically the United States, shortly after 2105, We have landed on an Earth-like world, orbiting a yellow star similar to our own. There is plenty of fresh water. There is a wide variety of plants to eat, including some that we grew from seeds that we brought from home. There is even a wide variety of tame, non-poisonous animals available. We have encountered no other people, intelligent aliens, similar beings, or evidence of similar beings since we arrived.

We have been here long enough to form a community of shelters with over 200 people. Among our population we have a few professionals - scientists, engineers, architects, farmers, and others.

We have the technology from our ship and supplies (books, multiple computers, communication devices, medical supplies, metal detectors, solar panels, generators, farming equipment, and a few EVs - electric vehicles). Satellites deployed in orbit from our ship as we arrived feed weather data and mapping data to our encampment. Our solar panels, and the wind turbine that we have built supply electricity for our homes and to charge the EVs. We use the EVs for long-range exploration.

Among our recordings and books we have some detailed descriptions of the history of Earth. Eventually, our population will also expand. We are thinking of planning a future government for those future generations with hopes for avoiding many of the mistakes of the past.

We were thinking that it might be a good idea to send individuals who seriously intend to run for office through a short course on the standard operating procedures of the job including etiquette as well as basic knowledge of the constitution and operations of the government. It seems that an individual not having this knowledge or not remembering it from earlier in their life could face embarrassment or political turmoil. Such a course would include trial runs, rehearsals, and tests. This is all of course independent of the candidate's political party.

I know that it was assumed that many of the politicians of the past have learned all or most of the experience that they need through their previous work in business, law, or even the military. I also understand that politicians (especially in the case of the Presidents) are given briefings between the time their election and the point at which they take office. However, I think that SOP and etiquette (such as proper behavior when dealing with foreign dignitaries and the press, or knowing not to flip out in the presence of others while under pressure) is glossed over. I think that a course would allow each generation of politicians to perform to a standard.

This doesn't guarantee that the candidates will never make mistakes. However, I think that it would reduce the mistakes that the candidate would ultimately make.

My question is, do you think this could work once the colony reaches a large enough size (hundreds of thousands or millions of people / multiple settlements)? What could the initial colonists do to make sure this is implemented when the proper time comes?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome R.Crosby. Please take our tour and refer to the help center for our guidelines as and when. Enjoy the Worldbuilding. $\endgroup$ May 29 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ A group of 200 people does not need a government. It cannot even support the most rudimentary form of government. What it needs is a boss and one or two part-time advisers. (And it is not clear what you mean by funding, federal level, etc. in a group of two hundred people.) Remember that when the population is so tiny your main problem is not etiquette and long-term planning, but simply surviving here and now. In particular, such a small group cannot really sustain any technological level higher than maybe early bronze age; concentrate on growing the population as fast as possible. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 30 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ Mostly agree. The idea of a federal government implies at least two lower governments and one federal government which is completely implausible for 200 people. Some sort of despotism of the sort you describe or an elected tyrant or a small town council are all that 200 people are going to have. $\endgroup$ May 30 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ You'll also find that there is no such thing as an SOP. It's not McDonalds. The way one guy governs is simply not the same as the way another guy does, nor should it be. $\endgroup$ May 30 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because people are starting to answer the question despite no question having been asked nor the expectations of the reality-check tag having been met. The consequence is that people are going to make assumptions about what they're reading and try to address those assumptions - making all the answers nothing more than lengthy comments. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 30 at 5:54

2 Answers 2

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You can not rely on future educators to have today's values

The problem with your idea that a person's values reflect the government they live under today. Let's say 200 people show up in a colony ship with instructions to assume a US style form of government once the population reaches maybe 100,000 people. The problem is that that gives you a whole 10ish generations of colonists between when they settle and when these rules matter and or go into effect. By the time most of these rules come into play, you are already looking at a culture that has fully evolved into its own thing, and there will be no reason to care about these centuries old books saying how to educate or weed out bad politics. More likely than not, your colony ship will land, your captain will be the defacto leader, and then his child will be become the next "captain" and before you know it, you have a monarchy, and all those old instructions have been burned in a camp fire for being subversive to the monarchy.

Even if the plan is put into play, each generation will have its own ideas to add to or remove from the the plan. So while you may have pollical schools eventually established. They will not be teaching the lessons learned by past generations, they will be teaching the values of their own society which will likely be abused by those in power to ensure that only people LIKE those in power have the right to lead.

Your best bet is to start with a clan based democracy

Of the 200 original colonists, lets assume you have 100 families. In the beginning, your government is basically an ekklesia like ancient Athens where the head of each household goes to the assembly to represent his family in matters of government. Of these men, some are elected into special positions like President and Justices just as the Greeks gave special appointments to certain citizens. In the early days, this will begin as a more-or-less direct form of government. But as the population expands, each family is still only allowed to send a single head of household. So, as populations expand, families begin electing a head-of-household from among all of family's who share in thier family's name.

As the system continues to grow and families begin to spread out, it will be in the colonial constitution for clans to perform adoptions of convince; so, if you are a Smith living in a household/commune/town of Patersons, you could become a member of the Paterson clan the same way that a Colorado Citizen can automatically become a Texas Citizen just by moving there. Something akin to state lines will naturally emerge. If you are born in a given territory, then than clan adopts you as one of thier own regardless of your actual familial history.

The key here is that you don't need the form of government to change much as it grows. A democratic government is far more likely to fall back on constitutional values because when you have 100 people vying for political power, it is helpful when gathering support to be able to point at a constitution and say "we need to move in this direction". It transitions organically from a system for a small handful of people into one for many people that remains led by a manageably small group of people as the United States is. By starting off with all the major seats of government and values you plan to be taught in place, you should see less cultural and political drift by the time that you need to institute your educational plans.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this a frame challenge? It does not answer the OP's question (which isn't easy to do since there isn't one, but the closest fit is, "given a form of government like the U.S. constitutional government, what changes can I make to get it to work for a colony of 200 people?") Note that you answered after my VTC expressing that this very problem would occur - people making assumptions about what the OP asked and answering those assumptions. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 30 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH It was not meant so much as a Frame Challenge as best path to make sure you get there, but I do realize my original answer was not as complete as it needed to be. See revised answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    May 31 at 14:52
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If you are clever, your constitution is designed to grow.

  • At first, you need a town council for a small village. Except that this town council is also the state, continental, and world government. With a town council, you might vote for John Doe, because he is a solid farmer, or for Jane Doe, because nobody else wants to write the minutes except for Bob and Bob is a fruitcake. The election dynamics differ from larger settings. No real need for parties, for instance, it might be more like ad-hoc coalitions and majorities. Plebiscites should be strong at the initial/local level.
  • Once you have a few separate towns, and not just a few farms farther from the market village than others, the dynamics change. You vote for John Doe because he is from your village, or you vote for Jane Doe because she is a Demopublican and your family has always voted Demopublican. Unless you care deeply about the spotted swamp tiger and you vote for Bob because he wants to preserve their habitat. It might still be possible for each candidate to campaign in each village, nobody would be asked to vote for a faceless name on a list.
  • Once it becomes impractical to tour the entire colony, dynamics change again. Do they have enough electronics so that everybody has a smartphone, or are the few remaining computers carefully maintained by the engineering department of the Capital City University? But surely you have widespread literacy, paper mills, and printing presses. So maybe it is time for your system to recognize and regulate parties as part of the political process?

If you start with the structure for a world government for a little colony, you will get multiple, unnecessary levels of red tape.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is not an answer to the question (notably because no question was asked) and it's not an evaluation of the post in the context of the reality-check tag (notably because no world rules are posited for comparison). This is, in fact, a large comment. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 30 at 5:52

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