The Temporary Dictator System - Dilbert Blog

The Temporary Dictator System

I propose a constitutional amendment to allow Bill Gates to become dictator of the United States for one year. The only exception to his power would be control of the military. The civilian president along with Congress would still control military actions and policies. That should prevent any temporary dictators from consolidating power and becoming permanent.

During Bill Gates’ one year run as dictator he could create any laws he wished, change national priorities any way he liked, and generally fix things without a lot of political friction. He could even tweak the Constitution while he’s in power.

At the end of Gates’ one-year reign, the returning civilian government could – if they want – reverse any of his laws, but doing so would be politically perilous because Bill is likely to have good reasons for what he did. We can depend on political timidity and inertia to keep most of our dictator’s laws on the books after he leaves.

I picked Bill Gates for this example because I’m not entirely sure he has a political leaning. He’s probably a robot from the future. And at this point I think he has removed all doubt about whether his motives are pure. These days he obviously isn’t in it for the money. And we would expect him to bring a high degree of rational thought to any decision. What more do we want?

I deal with lots of odd legal contracts in my career, ranging from licensing to publishing to public appearances and more. The default solution to almost every contract issue is to make the term short. The shorter the term, the less likely something will go wrong that can’t be fixed. I’m using the same idea for the dictator concept. A permanent dictator would be the worst system in the world because power eventually corrupts even the nicest human. But a one-year term for our dictator removes most of the potential problems. As long as the dictator doesn’t control the police, military, or intelligence services, he or she can’t cause too much trouble in a year.

Overall, I like our “sticky” political system with its perpetual gridlock because that means only the most important issues become laws. But every ten years or so, we probably need a temporary dictator to clean out our political closets and get some useful things done.

If you look at the United States as a system, or a big machine, it is lumbering along with nothing but basic maintenance. We have a political system that was designed during the age of horse-drawn carriages and it no longer fits the times. (Or at least it ignores the opportunities of the Internet age.) We need a system that occasionally rebuilds the entire engine of democracy as opposed to keeping the old system dusted and oiled for eternity.

I think the temporary dictator system could be a huge economic advantage over our international rivals. Their systems would either be Putin-like dictatorships that self-destruct in the dictator’s lifetime or bloated democracy-inspired systems that are gridlocked beyond usefulness. Our hybrid system with its temporary dictatorship every ten years could be the best system of all.

What do you think?


Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
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