Adaptive Tree Government

Problem Statement

This idea arose from the observation that the United States system of representatives has not scaled as well as one might like. As populations grow, the number of people a representative must represent also grows. (We have a fixed number of representatives.) This leads to less representation per citizen. We also have the parallel problem of increasing distance between the voter and the subject of voting. Seldom does a voter have personal interaction with the person they are voting for. Seldom does a voter have personal experience with the workings or implications of the policy they are voting for. And so the result of a vote is in large part determined by charisma and ad funding, not quality.

This problem is nothing new in history, nor is the idea I present here going to actually fix anything. But it’s a fun idea nonethless.

And though I think there are a few barriers against implementing the idea below for civil government, I do see potential for this system to be incorporated into church government.

So without further ado:

A hypothetical generic, self-adapting, continuous hierarchical system for government


The basic idea is that, instead of dividing government into a few fixed layers, such as city, county, state, nation, divide government into a roughly continuous hierarchy of Nodes in a tree structure. The branching factor of the tree is constitutionally fixed, and the number of layers in this tree grows with the population.

For describing the details below, I incorporate Biblical patriarchal principles as well.


For sake of discussion, let the branching factor b of the government tree be 12.

Define a Node as a council of representatives for b=12 constituents that exists within a particular layer of the governance hierarchy. Each Node is granted authority to govern its constituents immediately below itself. Each constituent must contribute at least 1 representative to vote on its Node’s governance, but may contribute 2 representatives if willing and able (see below).

The tree of Nodes grows from the bottom-up.
The bottom layer consists of land-owning household (just “household” from here on). Households are the fundamental unit of governance. The head of each household governs the persons within that household.

Each household must subscribe to the jurisdiction of a Node of households. This forms the bottom layer of Nodes.

Let each household contribute up to 2 representatives to its Node. Both must be adult, not spouses. If there is no adult member of a household who qualifies to be a second representative, then a household may only contribute a single representative to its Node. The head of house must approve both representatives.

In any Node, if a constituent provides 2 representatives, one must be primary and the other secondary. (The head of house is expected to be the primary representative for his household.) Both representatives vote, but if primary and secondary representatives vote differently, only the primary vote counts. (Thus, constituents are encouraged to establish unity before voting to enhance the weight of their vote.)

As with households, each Node must subscribe to the jurisdiction of a Node of b=12 Nodes from the same hierarchical level. Call this the Head Node for the constituent Nodes.

Let each Node contribute up to 2 representatives to its Head Node, chosen from among the persons representing its constituents. Each must be a representative from a different constituent Node/household. One must be chosen as primary, the other as secondary. Designations of primary and secondary representative are held for the duration of a term of 2 years.

A Node may only choose as its primary representative a person who is a secondary representative from a constituent Node with the consent of that constituent’s primary representative. Consent cannot be revoked so long as that secondary is in higher office.

The representatives that a Node chooses to represent it to its Head Node have the ability to break ties for votes within that Node. The tie-break goes first to the primary representative if present, otherwise to the secondary representative.

Let upward hierarchical organization of Nodes continue in groups of b=12 until there is a single Node at the top of the tree of Nodes. This is the Central Node. Let the nation or other body of households so united under the Central Node be called the Tree.

Let the Central Node elect 2 representatives. One must be primary, the other secondary. The same tie-breaking rules apply as defined for normal Nodes. These central representatives represent the Tree to other nations.

Membership Adaptation

To join a Node, a prospective constituent must apply to that Node to join it. It may only join the Node by the consent of the representatives already governing that Node. A Node can only be constituent to a single Head Node.

A Node/household can establish a new Head Node if it can find at least 11 other Nodes/households to join as founding constituents.

After it has been established, a Node can be reduced down to least b*2/3=8 active constituents. (This could occur if constituents leave to join different Nodes)
If a Node drops below this number of constituent, it dissolves, and its constituents must find membership in other Nodes.
Nodes with fewer than 12 member nodes are not allowed to send a secondary representative to their Head Node.

After it has been established, a Node can also expand to up to b*4/3=16 constituents with the consent of the representatives already governing that Node.
Again, Nodes may only join a Head Node if they choose to apply. Nodes cannot be forcibly drafted to become constituents of a particular Node.


(This section needs refinement.)

Each Node can only vote to enact laws that apply to the jurisdiction of its own sphere and that of the immediate Nodes below.
Each law or program that applies to one Node applies by default to constituent Nodes and to their constituents down to the bottom of the Tree, but any Node has the option of overriding that law or program for themselves and their constituent descendants by vote.


With b=12, the US population would sort into approximately 7-8 levels of Nodes.