Gatekeepers of democracy

Who - or what - are the gatekeepers of democracy? What do they do? A colleague in civil society, the director of an NGO board, suggested the term for a conference we are to cohost on the role of NGOs and think-tanks in democracy promotion. The term is commonplace among civil society theorists and practitioners, she assured me. I had my doubts initially.

Among political scientists, gatekeeper is a term generally reserved for persons or institutions which typically do not have much to do with civil society - political elites and party bosses, institutions like the American electoral college or the European Parliament, even election officers and poll workers. The media has frequently been assigned this role, too.
Gatekeepers are presumably those who keep democracy safe, who shield us from what is deemed to be undesirable.

Two things are implied by this usage of the...

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