People vote for their own self-interests in a democracy
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?
Voters in a democracy have the chance to speak their minds and vote on issues that are important to them. The problem with this is that voters vote based purely on their own self-interests. They don't necessarily care if the politician they are voting for advocates for democracy or not, as long as the politician does or represents what the voter wants. Some people want political leaders in office that look like them, or are the same religion as them / promote the same values that they believe in. Even if the politician says or does things that are undemocratic, such as discriminating against minorities or abusing the system, people will still vote for them based on where the politician stands on such issues as abortion, gay marriage, healthcare, economics, etc. This is because the undemocratic behavior of their chosen candidate likely does not affect them, or their core values outweigh the negative consequences of voting for a particular politician. Democracy fails because it claims to support the people and the greater good, but if people only vote in their own self-interest, then the greater good gets left behind. Undemocratic behavior is left unchecked so that privileged people can go to bed feeling like the things they care about the most will be taken care of, even if it means that other people might suffer.
The problem with this argument is that it assumes that the issues people vote on don't matter if the politician they vote for does something undemocratic. If a politician decides to do something such as having an extramarital affair, that is seen as undemocratic. But why should that, which is a part of the politician's personal life, affect how and why people vote? If he stands firmly on the right side of an important issue that people feel strongly about, why should it matter how he acts outside of office? Democracy isn't undermined by allowing the people to vote based on "their own self-interests," because it is in everyone's best interest to come to decisions about important issues, such as the aforementioned abortion, gay marriage, healthcare, and economy. Today voters are voting based on dire issues such as Covid; is it not in everyone's best interest to pick politicians who will solve the Covid crisis quickly and efficiently? Does it matter if a politician does something "undemocratic" if they also make a decision which ultimately saves millions of lives? Democracy works because what the people want is what matters most. If we expect everyone to vote based on how undemocratic a candidate acts, instead of focusing on the real issues at hand, then nothing will ever get done.
[P1] Voters vote based on their own self-interests. [P2] Voters don't care about the greater good, as long as they get what they want. [P3] Democracy doesn't work because people will support undemocratic politicians to get what they want.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P1] It's not necessarily a bad thing that voters vote based on their own self-interests. [Rejecting P2] By voting on issues which are important to so many people, voters are indeed voting to benefit the greater good. [Rejecting P3] Democracy works because people vote on issues, instead of how politicians act.