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10 Ideas to Fix Democracy

Foreign Policy asked leading thinkers for their best (and sometimes uncomfortable) advice.

An illustration of people's fist replacing columns in building representing people's democracy.
An illustration of people's fist replacing columns in building representing people's democracy.

More Power to More People

To protect democracy, we have to first figure out why it’s worth saving.

us-civil-war-foreign-policy-insurrection-january-6-matt-rota-illustration-HP
us-civil-war-foreign-policy-insurrection-january-6-matt-rota-illustration-HP

Why the U.S. Military Isn’t Ready for Civil War

A significant portion of Americans seek the destruction of political authority. What if they succeed?

A track through a forest delineates the damage from wildfires in Turkey’s Mugla province.
A track through a forest delineates the damage from wildfires in Turkey’s Mugla province.

What if Democracy and Climate Mitigation Are Incompatible?

Elected officials work through compromise, but a warming planet waits for no one.

An illustration of people's fist replacing columns in building representing people's democracy.
An illustration of people's fist replacing columns in building representing people's democracy.

More Power to More People

To protect democracy, we have to first figure out why it’s worth saving.

Arguments

GARMENTS FACTORY, NARAYANGANJ, NARAYANGANJ SADAR, BANGLADESH - 2019/01/31: Garments workers are seen working in a sewing and finishing section.
Garments industry in Bangladesh drive the economy growth and it is now the major source of empowering woman workers in the country. Women from different parts of Bangladesh come to cities to work in garments sectors where they get paid around 95 USD per month. (Photo by Ziaul Haque Oisharjh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GARMENTS FACTORY, NARAYANGANJ, NARAYANGANJ SADAR, BANGLADESH - 2019/01/31: Garments workers are seen working in a sewing and finishing section. Garments industry in Bangladesh drive the economy growth and it is now the major source of empowering woman workers in the country. Women from different parts of Bangladesh come to cities to work in garments sectors where they get paid around 95 USD per month. (Photo by Ziaul Haque Oisharjh/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Bangladesh Is Clothes-Minded

The country’s obsession with garments takes an increasingly heavy toll on the rest of its economy.

An employee works on mobile phone components at an Indian Lava phone manufacturer factory in Noida on August 22, 2019. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
An employee works on mobile phone components at an Indian Lava phone manufacturer factory in Noida on August 22, 2019. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Global Money Shifts to India as Xi Cracks Down on Tech

But the sudden flood of capital is not as good for India as it looks.

BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 19: A Chinese couple wear protective masks as they push their child on a scooter outside the Forbidden City, which remains closed to visitors, on April 19, 2020 in Beijing, China. After decades of growth, officials said China's economy had shrunk in the latest quarter due to the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The slump in the world's second largest economy is regarded as a sign of difficult times ahead for the global economy. While industrial sectors in China are showing signs of reviving production, a majority of private companies are operating at only 50% capacity, according to analysts. With the pandemic hitting hard across the world, officially the number of coronavirus cases in China is dwindling, ever since the government imposed sweeping measures to keep the disease from spreading. Officials believe the worst appears to be over in China, though there are concerns of another wave of infections as the government attempts to reboot the world's second largest economy. Since January, China has recorded more than 83,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 4,500 deaths, mostly in and around the city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province, where the outbreak first started. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - APRIL 19: A Chinese couple wear protective masks as they push their child on a scooter outside the Forbidden City, which remains closed to visitors, on April 19, 2020 in Beijing, China. After decades of growth, officials said China's economy had shrunk in the latest quarter due to the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The slump in the world's second largest economy is regarded as a sign of difficult times ahead for the global economy. While industrial sectors in China are showing signs of reviving production, a majority of private companies are operating at only 50% capacity, according to analysts. With the pandemic hitting hard across the world, officially the number of coronavirus cases in China is dwindling, ever since the government imposed sweeping measures to keep the disease from spreading. Officials believe the worst appears to be over in China, though there are concerns of another wave of infections as the government attempts to reboot the world's second largest economy. Since January, China has recorded more than 83,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 4,500 deaths, mostly in and around the city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province, where the outbreak first started. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

China’s Generation of Only Children Wants the Same for Their Kids

The one-child policy left a permanent impression on family life and depresses fertility rates even today.

TOPSHOT - A picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a large screen during a Cultural Performance as part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China, at the Bird's nest national stadium in Beijing on June 28, 2021. - The 100th anniversary is scheduled for July 1. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP) (Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A picture of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a large screen during a Cultural Performance as part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China, at the Bird's nest national stadium in Beijing on June 28, 2021. - The 100th anniversary is scheduled for July 1. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP) (Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Chinese Communist Party Still Thinks It Owns the Future

Outsiders might see a peaking power, but China’s leaders don’t.

Milorad Dodik, Serbian member of the presidency of Bosnia and Hercegovina arrives prior to the start of the Brdo-Brijuni Process meeting in Brdo pri Kranju on May 17, 2021. - The meeting is designed to reaffirm committent to EU enlargement. (Photo by Jure Makovec / AFP) (Photo by JURE MAKOVEC/AFP via Getty Images)
Milorad Dodik, Serbian member of the presidency of Bosnia and Hercegovina arrives prior to the start of the Brdo-Brijuni Process meeting in Brdo pri Kranju on May 17, 2021. - The meeting is designed to reaffirm committent to EU enlargement. (Photo by Jure Makovec / AFP) (Photo by JURE MAKOVEC/AFP via Getty Images)

Time to Act on Bosnia’s Existential Threat

The EU and the United States need to stop making concessions to Serbian secessionist forces backed by Russia.

Olaf Scholz, chancellor candidate of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), attends the annual ARD television summer interview with journalist Tina Hassel near the Reichstag on August 15, 2021 in Berlin.
Olaf Scholz, chancellor candidate of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), attends the annual ARD television summer interview with journalist Tina Hassel near the Reichstag on August 15, 2021 in Berlin.

Olaf Scholz’s Quiet Revolution in German Economics

A new generation of economists is changing the culture of German—and European—policymaking.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen prior to his meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on October 6, 2021. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen prior to his meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on October 6, 2021. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran’s New Top Diplomats Are a Problem

Tehran needs to restore the nuclear deal—but the Raisi administration’s officials aren’t up for the job.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan take part in a joint news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on October 13, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan take part in a joint news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on October 13, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Washington’s Blank Check for the United Arab Emirates Must End

The UAE’s bad behavior harms U.S. interests in the Middle East and at home.

TOPSHOT - People react as captive Ethiopian soldiers walk towards Mekele Rehabilitation Center in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on July 2, 2021. - According to Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters, more than 7,000 captive Ethiopian soldiers have walked from Abdi Eshir, about 75 km southwest of Mekele, for four days. (Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP) (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People react as captive Ethiopian soldiers walk towards Mekele Rehabilitation Center in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on July 2, 2021. - According to Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) fighters, more than 7,000 captive Ethiopian soldiers have walked from Abdi Eshir, about 75 km southwest of Mekele, for four days. (Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP) (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

How to Avert Catastrophe in Ethiopia

The United States must bring all of its power to bear to prevent state collapse.

A Ugandan police officer stands at the doorway of a bullet-riddled house.
A Ugandan police officer stands at the doorway of a bullet-riddled house.

The Myth of ‘Stray Bullets’ in Uganda

A year ago, the state shot to death scores of citizens. No one has been held accountable.

Cars line up to cross the U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 7, 2021, ahead of the United States reopening its land borders to foreigners vaccinated against COVID-19, almost 20 months after they were closed. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images
Cars line up to cross the U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 7, 2021, ahead of the United States reopening its land borders to foreigners vaccinated against COVID-19, almost 20 months after they were closed. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

Who Lost North America?

The project of a stronger, more united continent is on life support. It’s time for a new vision.

Oil pumps in California
Oil pumps in California

It’s Time to Be Honest About Fossil Fuels’ Role in Energy Transition

As soaring fuel inflation turns into a political risk, Biden needs a smarter energy policy fast.

Typographical illustration of the Japanese word bimyou.
Typographical illustration of the Japanese word bimyou.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bimyou

Neither yes nor no, this idea can take you far in Japanese politics.

review

bluebeard-foreign-policy-illustration
bluebeard-foreign-policy-illustration

How a Bloody French Fairy Tale Explains France’s Sexual Politics

The tale of Bluebeard the serial wife-killer echoes in the #MeToo movement.

A preservationist cleans around a painting of the Founding Fathers at the U.S. Capitol.
A preservationist cleans around a painting of the Founding Fathers at the U.S. Capitol.

Party Animals

New books assessing democracy suggest how to fix things—but it’s complicated.

Masked armed guards keep watch over contestants during one of the show's deadly playground games.
Masked armed guards keep watch over contestants during one of the show's deadly playground games.

‘Squid Game’ Hides a Hopeful Message Within a Dystopian Nightmare

Netflix’s new Korean horror drama suggests there’s more to life than the brutal realities of neoliberal capitalism.

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 29: US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and EU Commissioner in charge of financial services, financial stability and the Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness (not seen) hold a joint news conference in Brussels, Belgium on March 29, 2022. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 29: US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and EU Commissioner in charge of financial services, financial stability and the Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness (not seen) hold a joint news conference in Brussels, Belgium on March 29, 2022. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Wally Adeyemo Confronts a Challenging Economic Moment

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People wade across a flooded street after heavy rainfall in Karachi on July 25. ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images
People wade across a flooded street after heavy rainfall in Karachi on July 25. ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images

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