Bolivian students in a Democracy in Practice project administer a lottery to select their student government representatives
I’ve spent enough time beefing about our failed government systems – now it’s time to go on the offensive with some positive proposals.
Below is my reworked list of the 10 things I’d do to fix our dysfunctional representative democracies.
So it’s not perfect? What’s yours then?
“10 Steps to heal our broken democracies”
1. Recognising the problem
Representative democracy is broken on its most basic measure – it fails to represent citizens’ wishes. We need radically better alternatives.
2. Setting the bar high
Democracy campaigners should champion the ideals embedded in the original Greek term demokratia. That means the power to govern lies with all citizens.
3. Talking about better democracy
We need media who are fiercely loyal to citizens’ interests and no one else’s. Journalists must understand the systemic failures underlying day-to-day political stories.
4. Democracy as a global issue
Real democracy cannot exist only at nation-state levels – issues like climate change and financial crises extend to the whole planet.
5. Democracy innovations
Even though the perfect democracy doesn’t yet exist and maybe never will we need multiple experiments to explore how best citizens can govern themselves.
6. Making democratic excellence everyday
Excellent governance involves learnable skills. We need an all-of-life learning programme, at home, in schools, in workplaces, in our communities and at all levels up to global.
7. Sharing best practices
We need journalism and social media to share stories about democracy experiments that work and how to do them elsewhere.
8. Taking a look at ourselves
Most people have entrenched ideas about democracy. We need to examine our own prejudices to see just how truly “democratic” we are so that we can all become better democrats.
9. Democracy as a universal right
Democracy champions should respect all people’s different religions, spiritual practices or ethical and moral codes. They should avoid dogmatism and help others renounce fanaticism.
10. Establishing democracy measures
Some representative democracies are better than others but none is good. We need measures to compare different versions so as to identify priority areas for reform.
@PatrickChalmers 23 September 2015