The Buchanan Mandate approaches governance with an eye towards latent incentives in the design and administration of said governance. Put another way, this Mandate is focused on a meta-analysis of governance structure that aims to increase the usable space for individualized decision-making while eschewing initiatives that may bloat or corrupt the governance environment. The Mandate is less concerned with catering to a protocol’s different constituent interests, preferring to jealously guard the underlying protocol structure in order to protect each individual’s ability to freely operate and transact within it. In a protocol modeled around the Buchanan Mandate, governance 1) requires little technocratic benevolence, 2) limits regulatory and protocol capture and 3) privileges individual autonomy within the system.
There are four key
themes that serve both as pillars of the
Buchanan mandate governance as well as inform the decision making process.
Buchanan’s Public Choice Theory asserts that an individual’s choices hold the ultimate explanatory power for how an economy functions. Within this framework, Buchanan focused on enlarging the whitespace for those choices, while researching the limited structures and frameworks that should be built around these behaviors to best empower the individual. With the
Emergent Choice theme, the Buchanan Mandate voices a position informed by the way individuals are using the platform in actuality, rather than dictating how a platform “should” be used.
In advancing the research and understanding of constitutional economics, Buchanan reintroduced the concept of political economy. In modern times, the disciplines of politics and economics had been seen as separate concerns. Inspired by the Swedish economist Wicksell, Buchanan internalized the notion that politicians - just like any other party - will act in their own self-interest. Therefore, to cultivate a dynamic political economy, a protocol must improve the rules and structures incentivizing its politicians. The Buchanan Mandate emphasizes the alignment of incentives and a specific focus on the meta-structure of underlying protocols. Finally, the Process Architecture theme seeks to maximize the area for individual choice and limit the space for political rent-seeking.
Buchanan posited that, due to the unconstrained growth of government over time, a meaningful amount of discretionary power is held by civil functionaries instead of elected officials. According to Buchanan, these unelected bureaucrats can manipulate priorities, siphon funds improperly, and pressure rulemakers for budgets favorable to their own interests. The Buchanan Mandate advocates for any framework that grants as little discretion as possible to those in unelected positions of power. Individuals or properly elected officials should hold all decision-making power, while limiting the influence of administrative and bureaucratic roles to the extent possible.
Buchanan spent much of his career studying the economics of logrolling. Logrolling, or “horse trading”, is the act of exchanging favors in order to enact one’s own legislative priorities. Buchanan’s work explored the phenomenon of distributive logging, where policymakers trade favors to pass legislation that includes “pork barrel” spending for their constituents. Buchanan largely saw this spending as wasteful and inefficient. For this reason, the Buchanan Mandate seeks to limit the scope of any governance action to its explicitly stated purpose.