Democracy and Her Weaknesses

Photograph of someone placing a vote into a ballot box. Photo Courtesy of Marco Vech.

Since mankind first walked the Earth, we have yearned to understand how we can be governed and how we can govern others. This fundamental human desire has led to conflicting political ideologies that govern how government organizations function in human society. Western nations such as the United States advocate for democracy as the most ethical form of governing. Throughout the world, conflicting governing views have led to both civil wars as well as an international conflict. Although democracy is preferable to other forms of government. Democracy does have some weaknesses that must be addressed publicly. 

Every year, the Economist releases a “Democracy Index.” This Democracy Index “ provides a snapshot of the state of world democracy for 165 independent states..” (1) The Economist ranked the top five nations in their index, from first to fifth, they are, “Norway,Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Finland. The bottom five, in descending order, are, “Chad, Syria, Central African Republic, Dem. Republic of Congo and North Korea. This provides a stark difference between the top five nations compared to the bottom five. This stark divide shows that the western nations dominate the most democratic nations and African and Asian nations dominate the least democratic nations. So why is democracy preferred in the west and what are some fatal flaws within a democracy?

Many politicians make two fundamentally incorrect assumptions. First, the United States is a democracy, secondly, democracy is a nearly perfect and nearly flawless form of governing because it gives each person equal representation before the law. I will deconstruct both of these assertions. First, the United States is not a democracy. Officially, the United States is a democratic republic, which differs from a democracy. According to Intellectual Takeout, “James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution and primary author of the Bill of Rights, repeatedly emphasized that the United States is a “republic” and not a “democracy.’”(3) Additionally, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a republic as, “ a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.” (4) This definition closely defines the way in which the United States functions as a government. A republic is meant to avoid any weaknesses associated with the establishment of a democracy. 

By no means am I suggesting authoritarianism or a political system that conflicts with democracy, rather, I am suggesting that we reassess how we address the United States’ governing system. Democracy, as a concept, is perfect. Similarly to socialism, equality of income and wealth, as well as voting equality, is a perfect ideal that is nearly impossible to establish. Mankind’s flawed nature makes it so that democracy as well as socialism, will lead to corruption as well as mob rule.

The United States has in place a complex structure of checks and balances that assure that mob rule does not occur in our nation. Democracy is an inherently flawed nature due to the flawed nature of mankind and it is only through checks and balances, that we are able to avoid any negative consequences of a purely democratic system.

The remedy to possible mob rude as it relates to democracy is a system that balances out the will of the people, to assure that the majority do not establish authoritarian rule over the minority. In the United States, such balances include the United States Constitution that ensures that individuals have rights. Democracy, in the purest sense, is in fact good and ideal, however, a democracy established in the real world inevitably leads to the rule of the majority and disregards the will of the minority. 

  1. https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index

  2. https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index

  3. https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/us-democratic-constitutional-republic-and-yes-it-matters/

  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/republic

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