Solon Challenge - Leading Questions, Part Three

Q. Are constitutions all that important? After all, the German model of 1920 was celebrated for its promise of freedoms, its liberal standards.
A. Benjamin Franklin would be the first to say that it's customs, not laws that really count. (It can be a custom to ignore a law.) He added, "To get the bad customs of a country changed and new ones, though better, introduced, it is necessary first to remove the prejudices of the people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince them that their interests will be promoted by the proposed changes, and this is not the work of a day."
When the founding principles have been newly examined and ratified; when those living have confirmed or improved the works of the dead, then one's constitution and one's customs should become closely attuned.
Q. And what prevents the rise of a demagogue or a Hitler?
A. That is a fundamental topic for each Solon Challenge. Properly constructed, a national structure should be able to overcome natural calamity or economic depression without violence, chaos or the rise of a political savior.
Q. The Solon Challenge uses something called the "Reflective." What's that?
A. It's a temporary cohort which is chosen by merit, than chance. A Reflective has a specific goal. Each nation's Solon Challenge will have a general Reflective, chosen by some test of constitutional understanding. From that body a lottery selects the delegates for the extralegal 2010 constitutional convention.
Q. You say that a measure of merit should precede the lottery selection of each 2010 Convention. How is this accomplished?
A. That's up to each nation's discretion, with this proviso: The international advisory council must agree that the method is fair and open. If it confirms that the nation's test favors the rich, the entrenched or some faction, than it must be revised or else the project will not be included in the worldwide Solon Challenge.
The same goes for the lottery that selects the actual 2010 convention delegates. The international council must ensure that it is not fixed.
Q. Where does the funding for the Solon Challenge come from?
A. Each participant nation must come up with funding.
Q. What do you expect to achieve with the Solon Challenge, given that dysfunctional states resist change?
A. A fresh look is always useful. When the U.S. wrote its constitution in 1787, for example, it had no idea that national defense would become an "every second counts" matter, that world trade would become such an intimate aspect of survival, that yesterday's class distinctions would be now seen as repugnant.
Once a serious and respected body of a nation - not an underclass or a protesting minority - agrees on needed changes or a complete overhaul, the debate begins in earnest: Should that nation now have an official constitutional convention? If it did, how would you choose the delgates?
The normal ad hominem, or character assassination, that is cast on those who want change, is no longer in order. You now have to face the reality that an unbiased, meritorious sample of the population has reached some serious conclusions. This happy circumstance seldom happens by chance.
Q. Is there something beyond the nation level here - a new way of approaching regional conflict?
A. Consider the recent Russian incursion into Georgia. Each side put its own spin on matters, of course. But the international community was helpless. The U.N. Security Council could not act because it is not designed to engage in any conflict that is of interest to the major players. The Reflective used in the Solon Challenge could also be used as a new mechanism in such instances.
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