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Does Democracy Work? Essay

952 words - 4 pages

Democracy: a government by the people, in which citizens rule either directly or through elected representatives - the latter description more relevant to today’s societies. Quite evidently, democracy is not perfect; like any other political system, it is subject to a plethora of flaws. For instance, it is no secret that voters tend to make illogical decisions – not out of sheer malice, but as a result of being wrongly informed. Politicians also make erroneous choices, whether they do so because they are dishonest or simply out of touch with the true will of their constituents. Further, anyone who has studied the government of a parliamentary democracy knows gerrymandering can have a powerful say in determining elections. Despite these and other flaws however, democracy still seems to work.
In comparing the average citizen in a democratic nation, say the United States, to that of a non-democratic nation, for instance Egypt, it will be found that the citizen in the democratic nation is generally better off – free of persecution, free from fear of the authorities, and free to express his opinions on governmental matters. And while national conflicts occur everywhere, incidents like violent revolts have shown to be more prevalent in nations where citizens are not allowed to choose who governs them. It is slightly paradoxical that democracy, so inherently flawed in theory, can lead to such successful outcomes in practice. The question, then, becomes: “If democracy has so many weaknesses, why does it work?”
It is odd to look at psychological factors to answer this question, but they can be of valuable help in the search for a correct response. Giving people a vote, whether or not that vote is decisive in the adoption of certain policies, makes them feel that their voice is heard. Allowing for all to have a say diminishes the possible revolts that could arise as a result of having them sense that their governments are disregarding their opinions. Further, there is a certain amount of dignity present in voting; it causes a sense of civic duty; whether or not the vote is made based on emotion rather than knowledge, on gut feelings rather than facts - the responsibility of voting is taken seriously. Allowing citizens to choose whether or not they vote, a practice restricted in certain democracies like Australia, can diminish the percentage of people who vote based on pure passion. Also, it is to be noted that citizens vote based on self-interest, and because governments aim to please the majority of their citizens, having everyone vote is a helpful tool in determining what would benefit the majority of people.
No matter how flawed, regular elections aid in the production of a variety of consequences that, albeit unintuitive at times, can be beneficial. Having mass involvement in elections creates a form of psychological pressure on both voters and politicians; without intending to, they allow everyone to have a voice, which...

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