Failures of democracy


Shortcomings of democracy

Many feel that our modern democracies are far from being perfect. Some even say that the very concept of democracy is flawed. Winston Churchill is often quoted to have quipped that of all forms of government, democracy is the worst, except for all other forms of government.

This wiki pages aims to cover:

  1. all the ways our implementation of the democratic ideal is imperfect.
  2. all the ways the very nature of democracy is flawed.

What are the fundamental flaws in our society?

What are the fundamental flaws in our society and in our form of government?

You can add more options to the poll.

Give a higher score to the problems you feel are the most acute, important and fundamental.

Choice Blog entries Score votes Maximum score
82.5 % The way we select our representatives 7 entries 66 8 80
82.5 % The way we conduct elections 5 entries 66 8 80
80 % The way our political system allows the least principled of our citizens to be elected into office. 2 entries 16 2 20
View the full results and vote

Can we get out of the corrupt political system in the US?

The request for "an honest idea to get us out of the corrupt and useless political system we live in (US)" is a tall order. To be valid, such an idea must show that it addresses the causes of our present condition. However difficult the task, we must make the effort if we are to avoid civil disorder. My greatest fear is that we'll find ourselves in the throes of that disorder before we've done our homework - before we've reasoned our way to a sound political system that is free of the corruption and ineffectiveness that plague our present system.

Thoughts on Government

There are, in my view, three fundamental flaws in our government: the way we maintain our laws, the way we tax, and the way we select our representatives. Until we improve the way we select our representatives, we cannot sunset bad laws or improve our tax code.

Thoughts on Democracy

If we are to have a voice in our government, we must have a way to influence the choice of issues the government will address and the choice of the individuals we think best able to resolve them.

Fred Gohlke


Political parties are top-down arrangements that are important for the principals, the party leaders, financiers, candidates and elected officials, but the significance diminishes rapidly as the distance from the center of power grows. Most people are on the periphery, remote from the centers of power. They have little or no influence, as shown by Gilens and Page.1

  • 1. Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page (2014).


Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning reelection. With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats... 1

Flaw 3) Passion Versus Intellect

Political parties mount, finance and staff campaigns designed to inflame the passions of the electorate. There is no genuine attempt to consult the public interest. Instead, surveys are conducted to find "hot buttons" which generate a desired response and professionals use the information to mold "messages" which the candidates and the parties feed the public. It is a rabble-rousing technique.

Flaw 2) Political Campaigning

Campaigning is the process of selling political candidates to the public. It is a top-down technique and is conceptually unsound in any political system that purports to be democratic.

Flaw 1) Party Politics

Democracy is not a team sport. Even though partisanship is natural for humans, political systems built on partisanship are destructive.

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