So far, I have primarily focused on theology and arguments for the existence of God in my blog posts. However, I want to start sharing my thoughts on politics, more specifically political philosophy. I would like to start this endeavour of mine by jumping directly into one of the major forms of government and one which is extremely dominant in the Western world—democracy, rule of the people. In this post, I will mostly be offering some of my most recent thoughts on this type of government.
Thoughts on Democracy
Democracy here will be broadly defined as a system of government in which the people possess political power. There are, of course, various types of democracies. There is what one might call true democracy, which is essentially “mob rule.” Then there is representative democracy, that is, a democratic republic, in which the people have power indirectly through elected representatives. A third type is direct democracy, in which the people vote directly for their political leaders.
A seeming advantage of democracy is that the people have the power to influence the government. This is usually taken as a de facto moral good. Of course, this may simply be the case since people generally care for themselves and desire to have influence. Thus, democracy is appealing and called a moral good, since anything else is to impede upon their personal interests. However, truth is never a matter of an election; and the majority does not necessarily know what is best for society. People are often not even aware of what is best for themselves personally, much less for other people. It should also be acknowledged that not every individual knows how to use what power they have properly, yet democracy places power into the hands of such incompetent individuals.
Furthermore, democracy encourages corruption and deceit. If candidates must be elected by the majority of the people’s vote, then they may be willing to sacrifice integrity and other virtues to win the majority vote. Thus, they will seek to appeal to the people’s desires and will say what they need to say in order to win the election, whether they plan on carrying out their promises or not. Candidates and elected officials may also do things merely for show, to gain the people’s favor and may advocate for certain policies simply because their supporters want those policies.
A democratic system is also inefficient. The process of voting can be a lengthy process and much debate may occur before an important decision is made. Sometimes, decisions must be made in the heat of the moment, yet a democratic system can prevent decisions being made in critical moments. When a decision needs to be made by a large number of people, the amount of time that it takes to make that decision is increased because people have different wills and each person’s will needs to be aligned, at least sufficiently, for a matter to come to an end.
My conclusion is that democracy is not the best form of government and is not much of a moral good. I do not doubt its appeal to so many people; after all, the idea of having an influence on the government and legislature may have arisen out of the desire for control and power that so many people have, whether for good or for evil, whether for the benefit of others or for personal gain. Nevertheless, it does not seem to me to be a beneficial or efficient way of governing a nation.