Why Democracy is Broken ☹

Cristian Contreras
Apr 23, 2014 · 1 min read

Democracy is the dogma of our day, to speak against it borders on heresy and yet, representative democracy is a long lost compromise that is increasingly outliving its purpose. This form of democracy presumes a perfectly informed, unbiased and independent population — a far cry from the disappointing reality we must bear. It has proven pathologically conducive to solicitation, sycophancy and broken promises.

The following four points represent three psychological tendencies that I believe underlie the counterproductive but widespread approach to voting we see today.

1) People recognize that due to the complexity of many issues, it is practically impossible to be an expert on every subject relevant to policy-making. As a results, people oftentimes opt for ideology over research even if they likely to be wrong in many of their positions.

2) People prefer to be wrong in numbers to being wrong by themselves, which results in hedging that induces group thinking. If they have already settled for being at least partially wrong, they might as well be in good company.

3) If people are told that the group thinks a certain way, often they don’t really need to know for certain what the group thinks before they decide to follow suit; deferring reason to blind affiliation.

It is time that we reevaluate the social and technological circumstances that gave birth to our modern political system and ask ourselves whether this is still the best we can do.

    Cristian Contreras

    Written by

    Product Operations @Shopify — ex Head of Growth @HeyOrca