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What are the pros and cons of democracy?
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Democracy gives the power to the people

Democracy puts the power into the people's hands, and prevents too much power from being invested in only one person. Putting all the power in one person's hands risks that person only looking out for their own self-interests, and enacting laws that hurt society rather than helping it.


Democracy was first imagineered in ancient Greece by the leader of Athens, Cleisthenes, as a way in which the people could rule instead of being ruled. Equality was at the heart of the philosophy of democracy, and a new form of government took shape which would forever change the world. It was seen as the fairest and most ethical way to govern a nation and its people. For many centuries, democracy has become widespread among developed nations, being both promoted peacefully and by force. But today the debate rages as to whether or not democracy is really the golden form of government that it has long been made out to be. Does democracy really work? Do the pros outweigh the cons, or is democracy an inefficient and fallible system? With the tumultuous 2020 U.S. presidential election nearing the boiling point, this question is being asked now more than ever: What are the pros and cons of democracy?

The Argument

In a democracy, it is the people who are in command of the country. Voters hold their leaders accountable for their actions,[1] and they elect representatives who promise to carry out their will, and replace those in command who have failed in their duties or even become corrupt. There is no greater government on earth than one in which every citizen has equal say in how the country is run. On the other end of the spectrum are dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, which puts all of the power into one person's hands. In perhaps the most extreme and famous example of a dictatorship, Hitler acted in his own self-interest and persecuted millions of Jews, Roma and Sinti, Polish, mentally / physically handicapped persons, and any "non-Aryan" peoples, mass-murdering innocents in the name of his so-called ideal of the "Master Race".[2] This is a prime example of what can happen when too much power is put into one person's hands; the risk is that they will act in their own self-interest, enacting laws to serve their own ends and radical ideas. With a system of checks and balances in play, that risk is practically eliminated. In no way would the American people, for example, stand for such an atrocity as that which happened in Germany under Hitler's rule. The American president would simply never have enough power; congress would act, the military would act, the people would act. Democracy decentralizes that power and dispenses it to the people, in whose hands it belongs.

Counter arguments

Hitler is an extreme example of what an autocracy can look like, but most autocratic regimes do not look like this. Successful autocracies in history include "the Roman Empire under Augustus... France under Napoleon, The kings and queens of England"[3], Singapore[4], and many others. The "Hitler" argument hardly holds water when it is an exception, and not the rule. Autocracies are more efficient than democracies, both in economics and in enacting laws and policies that serve the greater good.[5] In a democracy, because the power is spread across so many people, debate becomes endless and the government becomes stuck in a rut of deliberation in which nothing ever gets done. Putting all of the power into one central leadership ensures snap decisions, which means faster solutions to society's problems.



[P1] Autocratic regimes are dangerous because too much power is put into one person. [P2] Democracy gives power to the people. [P3] Democracy is superior to autocracy.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Autocratic regimes aren't all bad, and in fact are more efficient in decision-making. [P2] Democracy gives power to the people, but that also makes government decisions slow and inefficient. [P3] Autocracy is superior to democracy.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 11 Nov 2020 at 16:05 UTC

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