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I am writing a story that takes place in a country that has developed a democratic-like government with a teensy little difference: All the political drama, cherry picking graphs, and narrow minded politicians which seems so interlinked with democracy has vanished, never existing in this world I've conjured up.

However, I have a nagging problem in the back of this tale, and that is a government like this would need a majority of sound voters exposed to all the needed facts so as for the system not to collapse. Now the system may strive for a couple months or so but if a self-centered, greedy person decides to run for president, he or she can revive all the drama nonsense and my story would collapse.

So my questions are these:

  • What safeguards would need to be in place to ensure that this somewhat ideal government doesn't get corrupted?

  • and How would a government like this function so that the voters have all the needed facts of a case to make a decision?

The society which this government manages is similar to those in scandinavian countries. This society has socialistic ideology while still retaining the concept of democracy and its freedoms so using surveillance to stop corruption isn't really an option.

If there is any info I left out that you need to answer my questions, just ask in the comment section so I can explain in more detail. Have a great day!

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    $\begingroup$ "If a self-centered, greedy person decides to run for president, he or she can revive all the drama nonsense and my story would collapse": many grown-up countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway or Sweden assign very little power to the head of state; the ill-suited person would have to run for prime minister or chancellor, a much harder proposition given that the post requires working with the parliament, cabinet, and (with proportional representation) the full spectrum of parties. As for drama, Germany has general elections next Sunday: that's some very quiet drama. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 17 '17 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ The Swedes beat you to it. $\endgroup$ – Willk Sep 17 '17 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 27 '17 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ Limit voting to people who have university degree or have several years of work experience (as measured by contribution to retirement scheme). Since they know how to run their own life, they are much more likely to ignore "cheap talk". $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Apr 30 '18 at 16:23
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I believe that in order to keep your system in place two things should be achieved:

  1. a mentality that prioritises community over individual;
  2. absence of professional politicians.

Collectivistic mindset would lead to higher compassion and cooperation within society. It would also guard (only to a certain extent, of course) against selfish abuse of power. I think horizontal collectivism would work better in your system since it does not create strict hierarchies.

Collectivism does not necessarily undermine an individual. Each member of a society can be encouraged to do their best and to develop their talents. Yet, at the same time, they can believe that as a group they can achieve more.

If politics cannot be a professional career, i.e. people cannot gain much from it, then there should be less corruption and abuse of power. The government can be also more transparent since its officials are not tempted to stay in office by any means necessary. Perhaps, if every adult citizen has to occupy a government post at least once in their life and total time in office is limited to 10-15 years, the democracy would work better. More people would be involved in and have experience in governing. Moreover, the majority of them will have interests other than politics and political power.

It also provides an additional failsafe mechanism. If a greedy power-hungry person tries to hijack the system they will have a harder time recruiting supporters and have a very limited time to change the rules.

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    $\begingroup$ The reason that a class of professional politician arises is because the skills of politics are distinct from every other occupational skill set. In our real world, oration and rhetoric were the prized skills, which led to minor dramatics, but made lawyers the natural start of the political class. Today, entertainment is valued (look at actors incomes versus lawyers) , so actors are increasingly the drivers of the political class. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Sep 17 '17 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @pojo-guy, I think it is a 'chicken-and-egg' problem. $\endgroup$ – Olga Sep 17 '17 at 12:27
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it really wouldn't work as there really isn't any sure fire way to keep government officials honest and transparent not without having some kind of massive police state system that is focused solely on politicians but that like other mass surveillance programs is open to abuse and corruption

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    $\begingroup$ Your prescription of mass surveillance is far more liable to corruption than the plodding machinery of democratic systems. The fact that many government officials remain honest and diligent, despite the impediments to doing so and the temptations to do otherwise, is both remarkable and a testament to human decency. No-one said it was perfect, but it's better than it could be faced with all the opposing forces trying to corrupt it. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 17 '17 at 6:50
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It sounds like a set of safeguards already exist in your world to keep out political shenanigans. Achieving this in the first place would be remarkable. If they could be strengthened that should be more than enough to keep out corruption. Since your question doesn't provide information about how this was achieved, it will be assumed as being the case and taking it as read.

Although an extensive system of auditors, anticorruption investigation bodies, and the modern equivalent of the Chinese public service's "Censorate" (an inaccurate term for what was fnctionally a combined Ombudsman and Independent Corruption Authority) which could investigate government practices and operations, and was able to punish any malfeasance.

As for ensuring the electorate was properly informed this isn't entirely necessary. Members of the government are elected to be the people's representatives. It is they who should be properly informed and advise din order to make decisions.

However, if you want to ensure the populace is properly informed make sure there is a free press (keep out acquisitive commercial interests) such pro-bono journalism and public broadcast systems similar to the the BBC, open government and easy to access Freedom of Information mechanisms. The universities and a wide variety of non-government organizations could be charged to exercise a public duty to scrutinizing government policies and their outcomes and to publish reports on these matters regularly.

Basically all the institutions to meet the requirements of the questions already exist in one form or another. The main problem is giving them the mandate. the legislative machinery to ensure they carry out their functions expeditiously and thoroughly, and the resources to enable them to do so.

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    $\begingroup$ Auditors and informed voters won't work, because too many voters will believe that the world works the way they think it should work, even when repeatedly presented with evidence that it does not. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Sep 17 '17 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeScott How does it go? "Reality is that which doesn't go away when you stop believing in it." Like most human systems it only has to work enough of time to be effective. We have police forces and crime still happens. Think about how much more crime we would have without police. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 17 '17 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ But think about how much less crime we would have if voters believed the truth that rehabilitating criminals is a better way to reduce crime than punishing them. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Sep 17 '17 at 8:38
  • $\begingroup$ And drama enters the system - historically, rehabilitation and re-education centers have become euphemisms for very sadistically run prisons for political prisoners. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Sep 17 '17 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeScott We are in agreement. Proper rehabilitation would significantly reduce reoffending and recidivism. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 17 '17 at 12:41
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Political drama is tactic politicians use to manipulate and deceive the people into believing their opponents are bad or whatever.

If the politicians in your fictional country are sane moral people who just want to do the best they can for the people the represent, they won't need to resort to lies, smear campaigns, accusations and mockery.

Safeguard #1: A pervasive national morality that focuses on compassion, honesty, kindness, and treating others as oneself would want to be treated, and firm just consequences for people who commit crimes or treat people cruelly. It would have to be a real, living cultural value sincerely practiced by at least 80% of people in their daily lives.

Safeguard #2: A truly free press and an open access uncensored internet so journalists professional and amateur can put facts and opinions out to the people without fear of suppression or censorship by the government or the telecom system owners.

Safeguard #3: Online hate mobs, death/crime threats, intimidation and the like because of someone's political or social views is a crime and will be swiftly handled by the police in conjunction with the country's intelligence agency.

Safeguard #4: Like another poster mentioned, a separate police agency tasked with preventative anti-corruption investigations of all state agencies. A second independent agency does the same for politicians. A third agency reviews the actions of the media and investigates complaints of suppression by private media and telecom entities.

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As others have pointed out it would take a cultural shift in our values. My earliest memory or politics was Nixon leaving the White House. It was strange for my uncles to be watching TV in the middle of the day (or much at all beyond the occasional sporting event). When I asked what was going on they said "He thought he was king. And we voted for him so we are responsible for what he did."
  That statement has stayed with me and highlights the obvious lack of accountability that voters feel today.

So what has changed?
   For one thing, Nixon was pardoned. For me, in my lifetime, that was the moment that justice became arbitrary and morality died. Many such disappointments followed.
   Another thing was credit cards: no longer was there a value in saving and earning something. Reagan told us to reject the idea that we had to change anything about ourselves, we deserved a TV and VCR in every room and "I'm spending my child's inheritance" bumper stickers started to appear along with the loss of the value of making the world a better place for our grandchildren. Instead we "prospered" by sticking future generations with debt while we partied today. The Boomers parents had promised them a better life and they were damn well going to have it even at the expense of future generations.
  Free Speech came to mean lying was acceptable. Though I don't mean to imply that politicians and the media never lied, it was still a big deal and great remorse was expected. But then came Iran-gate, Contra-gate, and it was more Nixon but worse because now even the president didn't have the shame to leave office after being exposed and people did nothing about it (except "I don't recall" show trial investigation and a minor player be the patsy).
  Probably the biggest thing that enabled all this is we stopped talking to neighbors and watched TV instead. Entertainment became the opiate of the masses readily delivered by cable TV and VCRs. No wonder we expect entertainment from our leaders and cable news is a form of emotional masturbation not held accountable to facts. With less contact with other humans and more topics deemed unsuitable for discussion people needed a substitute for emotional stimulation. Movies that make them cry, "news" shows that enrage them, debt incurring acquisition to or cat videos to make them happy.

How to change positively?
  Olga in previous answer said for more people to participate in leadership themselves and so come to appreciate it. There is no substitute for experience and this could be done by having rotating "class leader" role for school kids beginning early in their education. Say it's for a week each time and they choose the games or menu for the following week with their names printed below the menu or activity list. Even better if they are required to gain some form of group conscience or amount of unanimity before their decisions are accepted.
  National holidays that focus on neighborhood get togethers. I lived in a coastal town where the power would go out quite often. It was fun when it happened on a sunny weekend day and neighbors came out into the streets and talked. Once about 20 neighbors almost reached a decision to buy a crappy old house on the street and tear it down and make a tiny park; then the power came back on and many headed back to football on TV. Perhaps a Presidential Medal or Governor's Medal to neighborhood leaders (or the whole neighborhood given a party) to celebrate such efforts and maybe fund matching for good projects.   Is it even possible to shut down TV and internet for one day a week, a month, and encourage people to talk to one another? Our current partisanship and division can only happen when people aren't allowed the time to find common ground, common purpose.
  Voting and common ground. My state has half the voters as independent, not registered with any party and it's growing. So they don't get to vote in primaries to the point that in the last general election only 9% of voting age citizens picked the choices the rest had. It's like going to an ice cream shop with 10 people and 1 person tells the rest they can only have vanilla or strawberry and they can only vote on that. If half the people want neither they have no reason to vote. Also with elections often being decided by a few percent of voters there is no need for common ground candidates. We reward partisanship instead. We have smartphones and computers and can vote and revote and try ranked voting or other systems until we get a candidate with 2/3 of vote. If we reach an impasse, reopen to new candidates. Let's do something to try and reach greater consensus; there's no excuse not to besides our laziness.

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