Three Reasons Representative Democracy Doesn’t Work

by Gor Mkrtchian

In representative democracies, voters ostensibly control the state through the politicians they vote for. However, most representative democracies fall far short of this goal. Three of the reasons for the trouble are the problems of scale, bundling, and omission. I will explore these three problems below and argue that privatization and decentralization can ameliorate them.

The viability of meaningful political representation withers as the ratio of representatives to voters decreases. There are 435 members in the House of Representatives in a country of 328 million people. This means that each member “represents” an average of 755,000 people. How exactly does one person represent the federal legislative preferences of 755,000 diverse people? How do two senators embody the will of 600,000 Wyomingites, let alone all the Californians and Texans? Scale alone renders American democracy to a great extent meaningless, and yet this is almost never talked about.

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