The idea in a representative democracy is that the electorate are doing the quality control. We evaluate how the elected representatives are doing, and if we think they're doing a bad job we elect someone who seems better. But if you look at historical approval ratings
(which are usually in the 20-40% range, with jumps up to 50-60%) and historical re-election rates
(which are consistently in the 80-90's percent range) it's obvious that we're not doing a very good job of QC, at least according to our own standards.
I think a major cause of this is that political parties have come to dominate the election process, and political parties focus almost entirely on questions of “what should government do?”
“Should the government provide health care, or health insurance?”
“Should the government stimulate the economy with spending”
“Should the government intervene in other countries politics?”
Which are important, but political parties just want to focus on these relatively simple yes/no questions. Binary questions like that are convenient because one party can take one side, and the other party can take the other side. Or to be more realistic, the parties choose platforms composed of divisive issues, and only focus on the small minority of these kinds of questions where there’s any debate i.e., they completely ignore every issue where there’s widespread agreement.
What’s wrong with that? Well, once we’ve answered a question one way or another “yes the government should/shouldn’t do this” then we have to answer the much more difficult question of “how should we handle this issue/solve this problem?” In general, how well politicians can solve problems is a good reflection of our approval ratings, if they’re doing a good job addressing the many issues we can all agree government should be working on, then we’ll most approve of the job their doing. But if they spend all their time arguing over a few issues where there’s no consensus then they’ll probably end up with low approval ratings.
The problem comes when we get to an election and the republicans say that liberals are leading the country to socialism because they want to talk about how to get people health insurance and democrats call the conservatives heartless because they think that health insurance should be an individual decision. No one wants to talk about moderate positions, or talk about actual solutions.
Basically the idea of deciding where you fall on the political spectrum and then voting for people who are similar to you is the only issue that gets discussed in politics anymore. The idea of electing people who are good leaders, or people who are good at finding compromise solutions has been completely pushed aside. And I understand why, partisan politics is easy, you don’t have to do a lot of research (a lot of people just pick “R” or “D” down the ballot), you don’t have to understand complicated solutions. Basically, you just trust that someone who is the same political party as you will be a good leader. And then you end up with representatives with low approval ratings getting re-elected almost all the time.
Do we need QC for government? Yes, and we’re the ones who are supposed to be doing it, but we’re not – because it’s hard. Or at least more difficult than the myth of easy politics that the political parties are giving us.