How Are Differences Usually Settled in a Democracy?

According to The University of West Georgia's Steve Goodman, Ph.D., participants in a democracy settle differences through elections and political compromise. The citizens of a democracy and those within the government have different methods to resolve differences. Citizens control who the decision makers are, while elected and unelected officials must strike bargains with other officials.

As a measure of public approval and will toward key issues, elections serve as a method to settle differences in a democracy. In the United States, voters choose elected officials who match a party or candidate platform with which they agree. In this manner, the electorate has a voice in settling differences among itself. For partisan state and federal elections, the party with the majority of electoral victories sets the agenda. During the legislative process, the side with a majority of votes wins the debate.

Those in government also seek a political compromise when a clear majority on an issue is not apparent. Elected officials trade votes and make concessions in order to agree on a legislative package. According to Dr. Amy Guttman and Dr. Dennis Thompson from the University of Pennsylvania, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is an example of political compromise between parties and individual officials to settle differences.