Hard Guardrails of Democracy
Democracies around the world are endangered by the corrupt and anti-democratic behavior of leaders claiming to represent the will of the people.
But while these threats are real and important, and various helpful measures are available, communicators advocating for anti-corruption measures often find themselves unable to reach the public, unable to engage the widespread support that would push change forward.
Many advocates have emphasized the dangers and outrage of corruption, in order to provoke the public into action. But some have recognized that this approach easily backfires, paralyzing people in a sense of powerlessness and further undermining faith in government, and/or reinforcing dynamics that lead to support for authoritarian leaders who promise to unilaterally “clean it up”.
Topos research finds that it is much more helpful to focus on effective “guardrails” of democracy than on a “crime and punishment” picture of corruption.