After being ruled by kings and queens, people needed a better way to be governed. They needed their voice to be heard by the people who make decisions for all. As a result, democracy was born. In President Abraham Lincoln’s words, democracy is,
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
As you can see, it was created as a way for letting the people decide what is best for them. Since asking everyone’s opinion in ruling a country is impossible all the time, democracy lets the people choose representatives, through an election, to speak on their behalf. These people become Members of the Parliament or Members of the Congress. These representatives make decisions for everyone during the term of their service. Since this seems like a great way of governing a country, everyone is in awe of this theory.
However, what we did not consider when choosing democracy is the downside of letting people decide what to do with their country as sometimes people tend to make decisions based on their emotions and not their intelligence. Also, though democracy is supposed to respect the choice of those who opposed some kind of a decision, in today’s real world politics, those who lose an election tend to get ignored by the ones who win. Sometimes the losing side even has to face physical abuses.
How can anyone say democracy has a downside or a dark side? Let us take an example from several countries where democracy is practiced. In 2015, the majority of the people in Sri Lanka voted to change the then government, supporting the “Good Governance” policy proposed by the then opposition. If the newly elected government had followed the said “Good Governance” policy, Sri Lanka would have become one of the most prosperous countries by now. However, instead of following those promises they made, so far the government has taken measures that make life in Sri Lanka hard for its citizens. For example, the government has increased VAT up to 15%, increased the price of vehicles by a large number by charging huge taxes on them (which makes it impossible for a Middle Class citizen to buy a luxury car) and many more decisions that has started an economic meltdown of the country. By now, those who actually voted to choose these rulers have started to regret their decisions. However, the mistake is already done. By the time people get a chance to remedy such a mistake the country could be in serious jeopardy. How did this come to pass? This happened to the country because people let politicians sweet talk them into believing in a fairy tale world. The people did not think long and hard about the change they were going to make and then they ended up using democracy to ruin their own country.
Is this problem of democracy letting people actually decide for their disadvantage only relevant to a developing country such as Sri Lanka? No. If you look at some developing countries too, you will see the same fate.
Take for example the Brexit referendum. As of today, the people of the United Kingdom has now decided they should leave the European Union despite many economic experts telling this could ruin UK economy. Right now the country is feeling torn because 48.1% of the population wanted to remain a member of the EU while 51.9% wanted to leave the EU. By a small difference in choice of its people, UK’s history has changed. If this was such a bad decision according to experts, why did the people decide against their own well-being? Probably, because they got carried away by their emotions without weighing both decisions.
Moreover, USA could be facing such a fate of witnessing the downside of democracy if they elect Donald Trump as their president. How can a person who does not even know how to address someone politely be the president of the world’s most powerful country? So far, he seems to be winning the hearts of the majority of Republicans. If he becomes the Republican candidate, and if people decide to support him because they do not like Hilary Clinton, then, America will end up having a president, who can put the country and the world in serious jeopardy. This is again because people are using their democratic rights without first thinking about their decision intelligently.
When considering all of these facts, one starts to wonder if democracy has become an empty concept. Theoretically, it is a perfect concept. However, when put into practice, it does create serious problems. If one can make every person seriously think about the decisions they make using their democratic rights, then we will have a perfect world with a perfectly functional political system. If not, the best political theory could end up destroying the people it was built to protect. Then, it will be people destroying themselves, using their own choices.