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Thomas Ware

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Is our democratic system out-dated and in dire need of reform to fit the 21st century?

In our modern society citizens of democratic countries have received a powerful voice to oppose or push their own political ideals. Whilst democracy works on a majority system it is often questionable whose majority the system is favouring. In Australia the vast majority of citizens are in agreement and see no problem with gay marriage, according to the latest polls. The decision to change current legislation is solely in the control of the government. In a democratic system it would seem that the government should change the legislation to represent the view held by the majority of Australians, however, the beliefs and values of individual government officials are what ultimately decide the outcome that being against. It seems a failure in democracy when the public isn't represented by their government in that the political values do not reflect national ones. The other face of this coin is in common sense reform/policy where what is best for the country is prevented by opinion polls and political agenda rather than national interest.

Some believe that the current democratic system was most effective when people lacked the knowledge to make political decisions in their best interest and were represented by someone who did. The accessibility of the internet and widespread accumulations of knowledge has made individuals more aware and in a better position to make their views well known but often to fall upon deaf ears. The 'big brother' watching the government through media and the internet also seems to have created a system where the government is scrutinised at every turn and in some cases the risk of losing an election is more important than changing bad election promises or making unpopular but necessary policies.

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  • May 1 2013: Governments are really comprised of laws and the people who make them. Issues arise with the selection of those people.

    - The system of having the more knowledgeable represent the interest of the people actually does work. The problem is that governments don't have really knowledgeable people in those positions.
    - However, law is an all encompassing field so what you really need is a braintrust of (ethical and moral) specialists and non-specialists that have enough combined knowledge and experience to make a single worthy representative.
    - Then there is the issue of, how does an unknowledgeable person decide who is actually knowledgeable enough to represent them? (catch 22!)

    These has been true since the very beginning.

    Now, let's look at the reality.

    1) With few exceptions, it's the large political parties that decide the few choices we have. And the candidates the choose are only need to be personable, have a vague knowledge of current affairs and not say something stupid.

    2) Now that you have your choices people select who to vote for by one of the follow:
    -- arbitrary/blindly/anyone but the last guy
    -- vote the "party line"
    -- trust a friend's choice
    -- a very narrow selection of issues
    -- get as much info as possible to make an informed decision.

    It's unfortunate but very rarely are people really informed.

    3) That's pretty much the same way bills are voted on but a "friend" is corporation which gives money to your re-election campaign and expects you to vote the way they want you to. I think a large part of this is because so many bills are submitted that there is not enough time and consideration (or even read the bill!) put into making a conclusion, so the path of least resistance/consequence is taken.

    i think that perhaps the braintrust as a representative is a better system but each representative would have to be voted for individually and i think having the results weighted by occupational relevance would help in choosing the right person.
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      May 2 2013: If the citizens are as uninspired as you have indicated, then I am not sure there is a better system. They will be governed as you have indicated.

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