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3 ways to upgrade democracy for the 21st century | Max Rashbrooke

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. Democracy needs an update — one that respects and engages citizens by involving them in everyday political decisions, says writer and researcher Max Rashbrooke. The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where…

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Democracy needs an update — one that respects and engages citizens by involving them in everyday political decisions, says writer and researcher Max Rashbrooke.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

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64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Avatar

    SornGeorge

    February 25, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    While this idea sounds really nice, it cannot work properly in practice unless the citizens are well educated, they are well versed in critical thinking and at the same time the outlets where information/news are coming from need to be unbiased. How do we achieve all of these?

    • Avatar

      Leftie Snowflake

      February 26, 2021 at 2:49 am

      Well said. It would take a miracle to achieve all of these. Which is why I believe democracy can’t work/function very well.

    • Avatar

      TLR TLR

      February 26, 2021 at 8:51 am

      You seem to miss the fact that these ideas have already been put into practise in different places of the world. Thus, they are not utopian ideals, but very real opportunities for all of us to create better democracies.

    • Avatar

      Louie

      February 26, 2021 at 3:04 pm

      We need you to take charge of the world and fix all the education problems you see, and educate everyone to believe exactly what you believe is correct, then hand us back democratic power whenever you think you’re finished.

  2. Avatar

    Luke Rückert

    February 25, 2021 at 11:22 pm

    About the get togethers of the 100 people reflecting a people perfectly:
    Even if said council may consist of a composition equal to the distribution of the groups with those traits in a community/district, thereby making said composition representative of the community as a whole, this does not imply that the outcome of the work this council would provide to the community would be fair. We cannot suppose that majorities, which are almost inevitable, will choose to vote in favour of moral standards instead of those favouring themselves (those often collide). Which in turn would inevitably collude in segregation caused by majorities bettering their lifes henceforth causing impoverishment, as well as therewith coherent hierarchy, thereby diminishing every positive effect caused by such a proposal.
    In order to be able to make this work, clever regulation, determining how much of the council should be made up of certain groups due to many effects such as raw percentage representation in the community, good will/ Bad will against other groups (especially minorities), predicted suppression of others (determined by group size and other factors), etc., would have to be brought forth.
    In general though, determining who should have a say seems almost impossible to be fair in such a constellation

  3. Avatar

    Michal Dolata

    February 25, 2021 at 11:27 pm

    If people chose authoritarian leadership like Hungary it doesn’t mean that democracy is finished. It means that weak leadership is not effective for poor countries with agriculture driven economy. Democracy works if they have support from majority of population

  4. Avatar

    Ausmodeas

    February 25, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    Until we remove the rich and lobbyists from politics, nothing will ever change to better life for the average person.

    • Avatar

      Ethan Thornton

      February 26, 2021 at 11:00 pm

      Look at quality of life 150 years ago and tell me it hasn’t improved.

    • Avatar

      Ausmodeas

      February 26, 2021 at 11:24 pm

      ​@Ethan Thornton Just because you can look back 150 years ago and say life is better now, does not mean that life is as good as it could be. I understand that the rich have their place and they are needed, that is where my paycheck comes from. But, just like how many will scream “Church and state are separate”, I believe that rich politicians that are being bought by rich lobbyists should be separated from state.

  5. Avatar

    alphajames33

    February 25, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    You cannot have Democracy, with big populations. So you cannot have it in modern countries. The Athenians that invented it, were probably hundreds of thousands of people. Not millions. In democracy, in order to participate properly in the polis affairs, the politics of the state, you have to be able to be head of the state, no matter your profession, wealth, or social status. This is impossible in modern times. No one would let a garbage collector or a former prostitute, become head of a state, even if they were adequately educated and good in politics, and good to govern. In ancient Athens, you could be voted to head of the state if you could persuade the crowd with your speech, at the Agora. But even there, some inhabitants in Athens, didn’t have civilian status and rights. Like the slaves they had from other Greek City States.
    Democracy, though, is not the best way to govern. It’s just the better of what is uvailable so far. We just need to try to excersise it the real way. As it was intended. With real participation of everyone that is a citizen in a country. Not every 4 or 5 years, as the speaker said.

  6. Avatar

    murdok Ateam

    February 25, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    How about we upgrade our republic?!

  7. Avatar

    Gaasuba Meskhenet

    February 25, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    I can’t work, anyone able and willing to help keep my family afloat, please find my other accounts where I’ve pinned our funds

  8. Avatar

    Gaasuba Meskhenet

    February 26, 2021 at 12:02 am

    I’m not an optimist because I think I’m going to die if homelessness before this stuff makes it to my area

    • Avatar

      Gaasuba Meskhenet

      February 26, 2021 at 12:02 am

      Land lords should quit their “jobs”
      Property hoarding isn’t a job
      Rent is extortion
      Homelessness is violence
      No one gets a second house until everyone has one

    • Avatar

      hootsmin

      February 26, 2021 at 9:32 am

      @Gaasuba Meskhenet You should start saving for a tent if you dont like landlords. It was not the landlord who took your job and your way of life, it was your government. You going to sit around waiting for a handout (with conditions) from big daddy gov the home-wrecker, or are you going to spring into action and do something about it for yourself? I am thinking the former, but we will see. Anyway good luck with whatever you decide.

    • Avatar

      Gaasuba Meskhenet

      February 26, 2021 at 9:35 am

      @hootsmin my whole family is disabled. So should we just die?

    • Avatar

      TheMarveller

      February 27, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      What you think is what will happen to you
      Try thinking positively. Try _feeling_ positive. Stop complaining about stuff. You may think all is lost, but all is truly lost only when you have given up hope. Trust me, I speak from experience. Hope your situation gets better😊

    • Avatar

      Gaasuba Meskhenet

      February 27, 2021 at 5:54 pm

      @TheMarveller I’ve held onto hope for so many years how much more does this country want from me? I’m so tired

  9. Avatar

    Chris Mason

    February 26, 2021 at 12:23 am

    Nice video!! Very engaging from beginning to end. Nevertheless, businesses and investment are the easiest way to make money irrespective of which party makes it to the oval office.

    • Avatar

      mandela pasolapeuu

      February 26, 2021 at 12:29 am

      Investing in crypto now should be in every wise individuals list, in some months time you’ll be ecstatic with the decision you made today.

    • Avatar

      Patrick Peter

      February 26, 2021 at 12:48 am

      Most intelligent words I’ve heard.

  10. Avatar

    Ron Compton

    February 26, 2021 at 12:28 am

    # 1 Don’t be a Democrat.
    # 2, See #1

    • Avatar

      Brian Dubbin

      February 26, 2021 at 12:31 am

      You have no intellectual opinion.

    • Avatar

      Brian Dubbin

      February 26, 2021 at 5:46 am

      @Chris Finestone wrong guy in pic. See first message. 🇨🇦❤️🌍🍀🇺🇲

  11. Avatar

    BALAMALLESH Gongula

    February 26, 2021 at 2:05 am

    Citizen Assembly, participatary budgeting, online consensus forming

  12. Avatar

    Benji

    February 26, 2021 at 2:11 am

    See the comment section came up with the better solutions than this speaker, which only proves that he is right 😅 ეჰ…

    • Avatar

      TheMarveller

      February 27, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      online consensus. heh

  13. Avatar

    Chris Finestone

    February 26, 2021 at 5:33 am

    There can be no true democracy while capitalism exists.

    • Avatar

      niccolom

      February 26, 2021 at 8:18 am

      Because of the “agency problem”.
      Everyone is looking for the most benefit for himself, instead of what’s best for the country.

  14. Avatar

    Chris Finestone

    February 26, 2021 at 5:51 am

    He didn’t really talk at all about striking down undemocratic laws or stopping politicians from being so self-serving. We’re not just gonna decide to live with the horror left to us by the psychopaths of England and the US. We’re gonna fix democracy by extending it to everyone. We’re gonna fix it by abolishing the underlying economic system that serves only a few psychos instead of for the betterment of all.

  15. Avatar

    Geneviève Bélanger

    February 26, 2021 at 6:10 am

    Speaking of technologies used to help people discuss their opinions… how can we make sure they won’t be used to manipulate people instead of letting them freely express their own opinion? I believe recent facts did not help us to trust in the right usage of such technologies… I won’t trust a technology designed to make sure 80% of people agree together at the end of the process!!! From my personnal point of view this sounds like the contrary of being free to have any opinion, that may be, at times, different. Democracy is not to make sure people agree, it’s to make sure everyone is heard and that every point of view is taken into account in the making of important decisions.

    • Avatar

      Robbie Fernwell

      March 1, 2021 at 2:27 am

      In other articles and videos I have seen, the main idea to give the public more education in the particular topics, not to convince them of a certain angle. I can certainly see how this could be taken advantage of, but the sentiment is a good one

  16. Avatar

    Jake Arden

    February 26, 2021 at 7:14 am

    Democracy is dead

  17. Avatar

    niccolom

    February 26, 2021 at 8:17 am

    This guy may be smart, but he needs to practise not to murmur.
    He’s sooooo boring even though I’m interested in the topic.

  18. Avatar

    Tyrankoos of the deep

    February 26, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Online block chain security / constitutional / direct / liquid democracy.

  19. Avatar

    Ryan LI

    February 26, 2021 at 11:19 am

    In the 21C, we have the following options: 1.Corporate America, 2.Authoritarian China, 3. Something else. This guy is looking for that something else, so am I.

  20. Avatar

    Alex Bordon

    February 26, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    We must change our current political and economical global systems, government should not be here to control us, we should make a plataform where we can all vote for how we use our resources, products, laws and education, voluntary organizations should exist to organize the available resources to ensure a peaceful future for everyone, and they are not doing that, there is unemployment everywhere, global organizations should hire voluntary people to solve the problems that we as a community decide to solve, it should not be one small group of people that choose the future of all humanity, that is false democracy, it should be our decision, social classes are not a choice, we could all have abundance, the difference of this system with communism and socialism is that there wouldn’t exist a group of people that controls us, we would be the ones to choose our future through a real democracy system

  21. Avatar

    Carprincess

    February 26, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Interesting talk

  22. Avatar

    TheMrfrodough

    February 26, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Its mainly the insane corruption, in the us at least. Get rid of that and change will happen

  23. Avatar

    Remy Lebeau

    February 26, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Gov’t is force. Every law, every dictate is backed up by the threat of force, and when you resist that force, the guys with badges often won’t hesitate to end your life.

    • Avatar

      Remy Lebeau

      February 26, 2021 at 7:25 pm

      If anyone is interest to know more, watch the Jones Plantation video.

  24. Avatar

    mikebrisebois

    February 26, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    No. Western democracy is working. It’s created the fairest, wealthiest, healthiest civilization the world has ever known. Western culture has pulled the world out of absolutely poverty.
    If you think changing something that works better than has ever been created is a good idea….. your an absolute fool.

  25. Avatar

    Sheldon

    February 26, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    The suggestion of assemblies by 100 is applying market focus group to deciding — not creating, on public policy.
    Likewise, with suggestion #3. Online, public participation is just widening the focus group size.

    Suggestion #2 is re-inventing the wheel. Or at least in the US, we elect representatives — what makes the US a republic, who caucus and decide for the general population. A budget is comprised of all things thought the government must spend money on. If anything else is to be added — only added, never replace, is introduced by lobbiest and elected officials. Conflict arises because there is disagreement on spending some portion of the money on that addition or some specific thing.
    By example, in the US, leaving aside how there is some dishonesty in what goes into a bill, huge political debates on amounts or whether or not that amount should be spent on X vs Y.
    In some respects, we see it as extension of the family. Makes little sense for the children’s input on family budget because they do not have the experience or education on wise budgeting and how best to spend money. Likewise, some parents.
    Kids would want dinner money for ice cream and MacDonald’s every night but sage parents know that is bad idea and kids need a balance diet.

  26. Avatar

    Yashvi Dubey

    February 27, 2021 at 6:46 am

    A person is truly optimistic only when they just don’t wish the future to be better but try to make it better.

  27. Avatar

    Alexander Adrian Terzioglu Benny boy18alexbenny

    February 27, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Hy Ted ….or should We All say Teddy….. Lol…..i think, If WE All are optimistic and Anyone could Work Well His Things and Stuffs, we All can then Look optimistic Into a good Future with a good Growing democracy…… good Luck…..😀😀😀😀😀😀🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🥃🥃🥃🥃🥃🥃🥃🥃🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🍹🍹🍹🍹🍹😀😀😀😀😀😀😀….. enjoy……..Boy A.A.T.

  28. Avatar

    Leander Barreto

    February 27, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    Switzerland has direct democracy

  29. Avatar

    Ρο Κάππα

    February 27, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    We can start talking about democracy when there is no one starving on this planet. Until then, democracy is just a word.

    • Avatar

      TheMarveller

      February 27, 2021 at 5:35 pm

      People are starving less in democratic countries as compared to non-democratic countries. What’s your point?

    • Avatar

      Ρο Κάππα

      February 27, 2021 at 6:48 pm

      @TheMarveller So because there are less people starving in “democratic” countries that’s make it OK somehow? My point is that democracy should be about people and their basic needs above everything else. Is there democracy when you see a homeless person searching others people’s leftovers just to make it another day?

  30. Avatar

    Darrel Robertson

    February 28, 2021 at 3:03 am

    In America 74 million people watch FOX news only…your ideas seem hopeless here.

  31. Avatar

    fiz li

    February 28, 2021 at 5:28 am

    awesome talk, world could be a better place if we implement this asap, how to?

    make majority humans wealthy enough to care.

  32. Avatar

    Cyber Wick

    February 28, 2021 at 5:37 am

    Scrap it completely,work on true equality and restoration of the world.

  33. Avatar

    프리스피치

    February 28, 2021 at 6:30 am

    All idiots get together here. It sounds destroying democracy not upgrading.

  34. Avatar

    Dang Le

    February 28, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Then their could be no more superpower like the US and totalitarian countries may post disinformation to harm the democratic ones. Good idea by the way but a bit naive and needs lots of modification to fit the national level.

  35. Avatar

    Allen Thomas

    March 1, 2021 at 3:32 am

    Democracy is de facto mob rule. Nowhere in the founding documents is mob rule written as an acceptable form of government … at any level. Ergo, Democracy does not need a reset; it needs to be removed so a republic run by The People, not politicians, can be installed.
    Let all the politicians crawl back to the sewers from whence they came. ©2021 All rights reserved.

  36. Avatar

    Robbie Fernwell

    March 1, 2021 at 5:09 am

    How to make a very interesting subject very boring…

  37. Avatar

    kome360

    March 1, 2021 at 6:51 am

    If only he could give the United States as a prime example

  38. Avatar

    YASSER QUOL

    March 1, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    What I still see that the weird things in democracy systems that a person who is 18 years old can vote, and a person who 65 years old with a PhD degree in the economy can vote AND both have an equal amount of voices.

    So there is no consideration of the level of education or even a concern for life experience.

    I suggest giving different amounts of voting rights based on ( age and academic level ).

    No one organisation will accept to hire you, unti you have a sufficient level of education and experience. And after you pass a test as well as be acceptable in the interview process.

    So what do you feel about this idea?

  39. Avatar

    Marcelo Bastos Valbão

    March 1, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    nothing new here. he just gave a talk with beautiful words about USSR . the end of this we already know.

  40. Avatar

    Rosemary Monty

    March 2, 2021 at 6:31 am

    This past year the Covid-19 Pandemic and the final trouble Trump with the republicans basically supporting him has shown how broken American Politics is. Britain is not much better. It has been a depressing 2020 and 2021 looks to be not much better.

  41. Avatar

    Super Zhao

    March 2, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Democracy don’t create equality , justice and prosperity . Equality , justice and prosperity create democracy .

  42. Avatar

    Super Zhao

    March 2, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    why democracy is not working ? because you are hypocrite.

  43. Avatar

    TRAMWAJAZ1

    March 2, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Those ideas in my view are more used to make people feel like they are participating without letting them participate in anything important. I like the ideas and they are ok, but they won’t fix democracy. I observe a lot of those ideas in countries like Poland where I live where you’ve got all the local initiatives and you are giving local communities a sense of participation and decision making power, but that has no impact on the democracy going down in the country. For example you give citizens 1mln $ to decide what they would like to have, but at the same time you are pushing billions on propaganda that is killing democracy. Democracy is working fine on a local level in many places, even if we are talking about big cities or small countries, but the current global issue is democracy not working on big stages like European Union, USA, etc.

  44. Avatar

    Yithmaster

    March 2, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    One upgrade is to get rid of shadowy cabals that rig are elections and gloating about it in time magazine

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