Democratic Anti-patterns

Democratic Anti-patterns

  1. Elected positions without term limits - governments need new leaders, with new views, and new ideas in order to evolve. Incumbents have an advantage over newcomers as voters are more comfortable with "the devil they know." US senate positions are examples of this anti-pattern.
  2. Positions with limitless terms - a candidate for a limitless term may have an exceptional track record, but once in the position they cannot lose it by doing poorly. In the US, supreme court judges are an example of this anti-pattern.
  3. Political parties - in the US, the three branches of government were intended to create checks and balances. John Adams was elected on the first party ticket. Thomas Jefferson (as were many of the US founders) was against having parties. Jefferson created the Democratic party as he believed having two would be better than having one. In the US, political parties subverts the checks and balances the three branch system created, especially when one party holds the executive branch and the majority of the legislative branch.
  4. Revolving door - politicians can make far more money in the private sector as lobbyists. Companies hire politicians because politicians have great connections in the government and understand the legislative process. Politicians look out for the companies they might work for so that they have a good chance of being hired. Politicians who just left a company to be in government retain connections to the company (and often stock). As an example, US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had previously been a lawyer for Monsanto. When a case came to the supreme court that was against his former employer, he did not recuse himself and ruled in favor of Monsanto.
  5. Preventing a portion of the population from voting - even in the US, there are some citizens who have no vote. In some states, citizens without ids are not allowed to vote. In some states incarcerated individuals cannot vote. Citizens under 18 are also denied voting rights.
  6. Campaign funding by a minority of citizens - when the politicians get a majority of funding from a known set of minority voters, that minority will get more attention than the majority. Lawrence Lessig has a great TED talk on this subject.
  7. Biased and uneven media coverage - even non-profits get funding, and are bound to treat their sponsors interests favorably. With the majority of media owned by a few mega corporations, they are bound to give more favorable coverage to the politicians more apt to service sponsor interests. They also have little incentive to cover third party candidates.

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