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What are the pros and cons of democracy? Show more Show less
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Democracy is the backbone of many developed countries, but is it really the ideal form of government that it's made out to be? In these trying times, and with the 2020 American presidential election just around the corner, the debate rages perhaps now more than ever: What are the pros and cons of democracy?

The cons of democracy Show more Show less

Democracy claims to be humanitarian, but is really a vehicle for corruption, abuse of power, and repression of minorities. These are the cons of democracy, and why this form of government should be reformed, if not abolished.
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Minorities are often overlooked in a democracy

Politicians spend the most time and effort trying to gain votes by the majority of the population. This means that minorities are often overlooked, if not completely disregarded.
Democracy Minorities

Context

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

Democracy is set up on the idea that what the majority wants must be right. This disregards the legitimacy of the voices and concerns of minorities, and puts too much power into the hands of those who are already privileged. And more often than not, what the majority wants is detrimental if not outright harmful to minorities.[1] Politicians are well aware of this dynamic, and they actively exploit it. They spend endless hours and resources campaigning to the majority voters, because they know that winning over the majority means winning elections. This means that they listen to and hear only the voices of the privileged elite; of those who are like them. Minority voters are then overlooked, ignored, or even blocked from voting.[2] Their voices are rarely if ever heard, and their needs and concerns are put on the back burner in favor of catering to the wants and whims of the majority. And what the majority wants isn't always right or good. There have been many court cases where an innocent person was found guilty because of a majority vote.[3] The majority of white southerners during the American Civil War fought to own slaves, even if they didn't own any themselves, because it was in their own self-interest to keep slavery legal.[4] Theirs was the majority vote because slaves weren't even allowed to vote; their voices were silenced. But what the majority wanted wasn't right nor humane. Thankfully, they lost the war; but just imagine what America would be like today if they hadn't. Democracy puts a system in place which values only the majority vote. Minorities are left behind, stepped on, and even silenced. If democracy is such a "fair" system, then this wouldn't be allowed to continue.

Counter arguments

The "majority" doesn't have to mean only white, privileged people. Voters vote based on issues, and all races, genders, creeds, etc. can share similar opinions. Voting is not purely "black and white", because all white people do not vote the same, and all minorities do not vote the same. It is possible for white and minority citizens to feel the same about a certain issue. So election results aren't always skewed towards the privileged elite. The voices of all citizens are heard, and the "majority" simply means what most people want, regardless of what race, gender, etc. they are. The majority might sometimes be in the wrong, but this is why there are checks and balances in play that can curb potentially harmful election results. Issues can be taken to the supreme court, congress can act and vote on new laws, and even the president--in dire situations--can step in and call for martial law. Democracy advocates for equality and demands that there be justice for all. While the majority vote isn't always perfect, it is for the most part a representation of what the people want. Democracy also seeks to give minorities just as much of a voice as the privileged elite.[5]

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Democracy is set up on a grossly unfair and unbalanced system in which the majority has the ultimate say. [P2] What the majority wants isn't always right or fair. [P3] Democracy leaves minorities behind.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] The "majority" isn't always strictly "black and white." [P2] Checks and balances exist which can undo the damage of a wrong popular vote. [P3] Democracy advocates for equality.

References

  1. https://greengarageblog.org/12-vital-pros-and-cons-of-democracy
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/31/a-threat-to-democracy-republicans-war-on-minority-voters
  3. https://blog.usejournal.com/the-majority-is-not-always-right-f45aca238bd9
  4. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/why-non-slaveholding-southerners-fought
  5. https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/articles_papers_reports/why-democracy-is-the-best-weve-got
This page was last edited on Wednesday, 11 Nov 2020 at 16:06 UTC

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