What Are the Pros and Cons of Democracy?

Democratic governments allow people to choose their leaders, which many view as morally necessary, but it does not ensure that qualified leaders are elected. Democracy also allows people to remove ineffective leaders.

Democratic theory holds that people will vote based on rational self-interest. By voting for a candidate who promises to support policies that help the largest segment of the electorate, the will of the citizens is upheld. Democratic governments are often seen as morally necessary because many believe that the population has a right to select their government.

However, Plato and other philosophers have argued that democratic governments are inferior to enlightened forms of monarchies, oligarchies and other forms of government. Modern philosophers sometimes argue that relatively inexperienced politicians are sometimes given a great deal of power, and this power leads to abuse and corruption.

Others point out that democracies can enshrine widely held but immoral beliefs. The institution of slavery, for example, lasted for almost 100 years after the introduction of democracy in the United States, and other forms of legal discrimination survived for more that 100 years after it was abolished. Philosophers often refer to the "tyranny of the majority" and argue that other forms of government would have the power to outlaw and eliminate human rights abuses.