Limitation #1: Political Parties Create a Very Exclusive Club
By law, anyone in the western world can belong to a political party of his or her choosing. In theory, any party member can eventually become an elected politician. In practical terms, the opportunity is limited. Aside from the formal processes of joining and rising in a political party, numerous informal features prevent many people from participating in politics.
Political parties are not bastions of like-minded individuals striving for a common goal. Within these organizations, there is often jealousy, pettiness, gossiping, backbiting, power struggles, subversion, opportunism, jostling for position, and ambition. To succeed in the political party arena, an individual has to immerse him- or herself in this atmosphere. For many people wanting to offer their time to make the world a better place, the atmosphere in a political party is a significant barrier to participation.
Another barrier is the moral compromises required for most political careers. Morality and principles are often sacrificed to gain the primary objectives of portraying party unity and winning elections. More is discussed about this later, but for many people, these compromises are simply too much to take, and they stay away from the political process.
The balance between risk and reward in political life is unacceptable for many people. Being seriously involved in politics is a time-consuming activity, usually at the expense of family, career, and recreation. Despite the vast amount of effort an aspiring politician must give to become elected, the failure rate is high. Surviving the party politics, winning the internal party election, and finally winning the general election usually mean that only about one of the ten or so people who runs for public office actually gains the privilege of governance — and many of these winners only survive one term in office without affecting the world too much. The other nine who made the attempt get absolutely nothing — after making a serious life investment! For many citizens, the likelihood of not being successful in the political arena is high enough to keep them out of the process.
So what does western democracy actually do to attract qualified and capable people into the profession of governance? If anything, it discourages them! And society is bereft of having many competent people participate in its decision-making processes. This job is left to those who are willing to pay the initiation price: the hassles of politics.
And this price creates a very exclusive club.