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IPFS News Link • Political Theory

What's So Great About Democracy?

• by jacob g. hornberger

As everyone knows, for the past several decades, the US government has made democracy its shibboleth. It's as if democracy is something sacred.

Yet, what's so great about democracy? It's really nothing more than people selecting their rulers by votes rather than rulers selecting themselves. What's so sacred about voters? US officials promote the notion that voters select the best people to public office, as if they always elect saints.

Given that this is the 50th anniversary of the Watergate scandal, why not apply the democracy test to Richard Nixon, a president who was forced to leave office because of his criminal activity?

And then there was Lyndon Johnson, the president that Nixon succeeded. Many years after he had died, it was determined that LBJ cheated his way to victory in his 1948 race for US Senate. If he hadn't had his political cronies illegally stuff the ballot box in a county in South Texas, he would have lost that race and undoubtedly would never have become president. 

Supporters of Donald Trump point to Biden as another example of how voters can make serious mistakes in who they elect to office. Biden supporters say the same thing about Donald Trump. In fact, Biden supporters are doing everything they can to use legislation to ban Trump from running again so that voters won't have the chance to vote him back into office. 
Democracy is often confused with the concept of freedom. If a system is democratic, the argument goes, that shows that people are free. 

That's ludicrous. Freedom has nothing to do with how people elect their rulers. Consider Latin America, for example, the part of the world that was the focus of that recent Summit of the Americas. It's often said, with validity, that people in Latin America have the freedom to elect their dictators every four or six years. That's because their rulers wield and exercise dictatorial powers. So, whoever gets the most votes is the one who gets to be the dictator.