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Politics & Current Affairs

Does Democracy Work Anymore?

Democratic institutions seem too slow to respond to long-term crises and too quick to react to market pressures, substituting the stock ticker for the ballot box. Is there any alternative?

What’s the Latest Development?

The separation of powers ingrained in the American constitution, along with a host of other rules, seem ill-suited to solving the social and economic crises of our day. Obstructionist partisanship has paralyzed government at such crucial moments that political writer Francis Fukuyama says ‘vetocracy’ could triumph over democracy no matter who wins the presidency in 2012. That is not to say that our politicians are idiots. Indeed, many seem to know what solutions are necessary but cannot see how to get reelected by implementing them.

What’s the Big Idea?

China’s authoritarian government allows it to better tackle long-term problems, already projecting its policies into the twenty-second century. Nor do Chinese citizens clamor for democracy the way we think they ought to, even as a society emerges that is more independent from the state than ever before. On the other hand, the recent economic crises have acted as ‘incubator and accelerator’ for democracy across the Middle East. And while democratic revolution has challenged authoritarian rule, we have yet to see the reverse.

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