My Problem With Democracy

 

While democracy has some virtues, it also suffers from many flaws. It puts the power to choose a leader in the hands of a people who are so incompetent that they need to be led. It makes the false declaration that people are capable of making an informed decision on their own.

If people had the ability to make such decisions alone, they would not need to be led. The sentiment of the people would favour an anarchistic (not chaotic or violent, those are different) system. Instead, a people who prefer to have their power taken from them envision themselves in a free society simply because they have a vote, occasionally use this, their only power in the decision of a new leader, regardless if this leader reflects their will or not. Often this vote is squandered.

Placing the power to make decisions and judgements calls on a single person or elected committee ensures that the voter never has to take any personal responsibility for what happens in their country and their foreign affairs policies. It is the philosophy of zero accountability.

How is an informed or even an uninformed voter less responsible for the actions of their country and governances thereof, than government itself? The voter is the person who provided their government with that power in the first place. Are they less responsible for their states foreign policy? For the kept election promises? Will they hold their leaders accountable? Who will they trust to make sure laws are kept? When the powers that be are held accountable for their actions, should the people who carried them out be held responsible or will all the people who led to this action be held responsible?

 

Besides the fact that a majority can simply mean all the morons are on the same side, a majority can be misleading depending on how the sections of the state are divided and votes tabulated. How this can be misleading depends upon what system there is, be it a two-party or plurality.

The two-party system gives the false idea of being easy to calculate and difficult to misappropriate representation. Consider a system more like an original form of democracy in which there was a representative for every ten men. Consider also that there are also only 100 representatives, thus 1000 men. Party A may get 45% of the representatives with sweeping victories in each of their constituencies at approximately 75.1%. This would mean that Party A got 338 out of 450 votes and Party B got 112 votes. However, Party B won 65 representatives with more narrow victories of about 65.1%. That would mean that out of 650 votes, Party B received 423 votes and Party A received 227. Over all, Party A got the most votes at 565 out of 1000, and Party B got the least at 435 votes. To a casual observer, Party B won with the most representatives, but careful analysis shows that most of the people actually preferred Party A. This issue can be magnified when considering that not all constituencies are divided by the same number of people.

In a system that allows for more than one party, the coveted seat of power can be sought by 3 or more parties, and thus only the party with the most seats wins. Therefore, we can have a system in which a party can win by only 33% of the vote, even though 67% of the people may not want this or may even be staunchly opposed to this. While there are ways around this (known as the Hare-Clark or Single Transferrable Vote system), many countries who favour plurality do not favour the Hare-Clark system. They instead prefer a quick tabulation of the votes, rather than a calculation that represents the actual will of the people. Some countries even allow existing powers to appoint the right (though it may not be the will of the people) for coalitions to form, and to take control of the country, much as it was when the Nazi party was allowed to ally with a rival party and take control of Germany with Hitler as it's leader.

 

The checks and balances put in place can also hinder the would be actions of a person whose leadership may truly be visionary. While the people often perceive a single person as being in charge (and while they do hold much of the power) balances are in place which can prevent his/her actions from being brought to fruition. The real power may lie in how many of these "checks and balances" are prepared to support their leader.

It is often said that leader should not be so intelligent as to alienate himself from the people he intends to lead. This disparity can create an inability to understand his/her idea, goals and path. Often, leaders are chosen from people so close to their own intelligence level that they may understand. In cases such as these, we may find the leader is equally (un)intelligent as the people who were unable to make important decisions for themselves. This defeats the purpose of an elected leader.

 

Democracy can offer no guarantees that their leaders will act responsibly with the power they have been awarded by the voter, any more than it can guarantee that the voter will use their vote responsibly when casting it and deciding the outcome of their future and ultimately that of the state.

Politics is as much a game of popularity and opinion as it is one of ideals. A poorly informed populous may turn the other way simply based on rumours, bad PR or ill information. Some reasons may be far lower, reflecting greater human flaws.

Politicians are often perceived as figures that are held to a greater standard and are thereby of a greater calibre. While the former is a worthy ideal, the latter is simply a silly idea. Politicians are still human beings and are subject to all the same human greed, jealousy and pettiness as anyone else, but are unfortunately are endowed with a power that makes the effects of their short comings far greater and more widely felt.

 

Democracy also imposes a system in which a voter picks a person or platform, regardless of how many points they may or may not agree with. Party A may be the only party that favours Policy X, but every other part of their platform may not be completely favourable or even flatly contrary to the will of the people.

 

There is also the mistaken impression held by many that democracy is a tool of freedom. Many oppressive regimes were voted in democratically, either wholly or only in part. There also seems to be an illusion that once in power, a leader or leaders will do what they say they will or will act in a manner that reflects the will of their people.

 

A political change of hands is often perceived as a complete overhaul, when in reality this may be farthest from the truth. While the leader may be replaced, all the previous subordinates may remain. Only some may remain. The new leader may in fact be one of the previous failures in a subordinate, who is perceived as earning their way into that rank.

 

Again, while democracy has some virtues, it also suffers from many flaws. Yet for all its flaws, it is still the best system we have for now.