Essay about Democracy's numerous pitfalls

Essay about Democracy's numerous pitfalls

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When we first viewed the ancient theorists, both Plato and Aristotle supported a form of aristocracy where the preeminent members of a state would rule. Because they were the most knowledgeable, wise, and virtuous, they would know what is best for a state and its citizens. But human nature has convinced us that without properly limiting its power, a government has the power to rule arbitrarily, succumb to corruption, and introduce great inequalities. Tocqueville, however, argues that the development of equality in the world has fundamentally changed our worries about government and that democracy has become the new standard. But because of the alluring nature of democracy, it’s extremely easy for people to overindulge, so we must be cautious and mindful of the spread of democracy.
The democracy Tocqueville found in America was built upon the principles of equality and the “sovereignty of the will of the majority.” These principles were only strengthened by the American Constitution, which places a disproportionate amount of power in the legislature, thereby forcing government to conform to the people’s will. Rule by majority does indeed seem favorable, as “the interest of the greatest number should be preferred to that of those who are fewer.” And while European nations seem to have settled into the thought that government of a few will know what is best for a state, Tocqueville asserts the contrary. He claims that a passionate people, who are interested in their own affairs, are better suited to achieve “social prosperity.”
But Tocqueville also admits that a democracy faces the challenge of first motivating its citizens into taking an interest in politics. Centuries of hierarchical government may have made people apathetic ...


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... due to its extreme stance on equality and freedom, is but a step away from either anarchy or tyranny. It seems to have worked in America, but there were several factors leading to its success. The state was founded on the premise of equality and its citizens had a strong desire to prevent the arbitrary rule of a tyrant, ensuring their active participation in government. The balance of power was also ensured by the ingenuity of the nation’s founders, who were away of the dangers of democracy and established a vast, complex system to prevent its abuse. While Tocqueville lauds the American experiment, even he acknowledges that it may not be repeated verbatim in other countries. The world may inevitably turn democratic, but we should not embrace democracy just because it looks pretty. As we have seen, democracy has numerous pitfalls, and we must be wary to avoid them.

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