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What are the pros and cons of democracy?
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Politicians can bend the system to their will in a democracy

Politicians are given too much freedom to play with the system. Sometimes it's simply bending the rules, and other times it's outright manipulating them. The guardrails put in place by democracy, meant to protect the people, can be uprooted and instead bent to protect politicians from the repercussions of their dirty deeds.


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

Some politicians may claim that “strong leaders sometimes have to bend the rules in order to get things done",[1] but with that kind of thinking comes a flexibility that tempts politicians into thinking that they can bend the rules for other things, too. They act in their own self-interest, using the system of democracy's guardrails to serve their own ends. With this in mind, it is no wonder why the American people are starting to lose faith in democracy. Political leaders are ambitious. Sometimes, this ambition shoots high above their concern for the people they lead. Power is attractive because it strokes the egos and lines the pockets of those who have it. It is very appealing to know that one can give any order and have it carried out. And sometimes leaders have personal goals that they want to accomplish with their power. In a democracy, checks and balances exist that supposedly keep political leaders from overreaching their positions and doing whatever they want. When Trump wanted to build his infamous wall, Congress stood in his way; a check and balance that would have prevented him from spending billions of dollars, had he not found a loophole in the Constitution. He exploited a rule in which he could declare a national emergency, claiming that the people illegally coming across the Mexican border were a threat to national security.[2] He overblew the severity of the situation in order to get his way. Trump bent the rules "to get things done," but not to serve the will of the people; it was to carry out his own will. This did not make him a strong leader; it made him a selfish one. But democracy allows for abuses like this to happen. That is why democracy just doesn't work.

Counter arguments

Congress and the Constitution are cited in this argument as if they are the only two checks and balances that Amercian democracy has in place. But there are many others; and one of them--the most important one--is the people themselves. The truth is that, when all is said and done, the people are apathetic about what goes on in the government; they care more about culture and how that is affecting their lives far more than any politician ever could.[3] They may be jaded, believing that their vote doesn't count, that all politicians are liars, and that what the privileged elite want is what ultimately happens.[4] Democracy does work. But it only works when all of its parts are working together. If the American people were to stand up and take action, they would be the ultimate and final check and balance that puts the President in their place when things get out of hand. But the American people are apathetic to politics, caring only marginally about the inner workings of the government when it directly affects their lives. Trump's wall didn't affect the majority of Americans. That's why they let him get away with it. If they really didn't want him to do it, they would have stood up and fought. And the people would have won; democracy would have won. Democracy isn't the issue. It's the people who are the issue; both those in charge for their corrupt and selfish intentions, and those being ruled for their lack of interest in the government at all.



[P1] Democracy's checks and balances have holes in them that politicians can exploit or circumvent. [P2] Democracy does not work.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] Politicians may be able to do these things, but it is because the people allow it to happen. [P2] Democracy works when all its members do their part.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 11 Nov 2020 at 16:06 UTC

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