Why Should We Support Democracy?

Democracy is the political system in which the citizens of a state have a say in the laws and policies that govern their country, either directly through referenda or by choosing representatives to make those decisions. It may involve simple electoral equality (one person one vote) or it can be more robust, including substantive equality in the processes of deliberation and coalition building leading up to the vote. Democracy is not an “ideal” or a “perfect” system and it cannot be imposed on a country from the outside, but it is a fundamental human right to take part in the government of one’s own nation.

One of the key reasons for embracing democracy is that it is the only political system that provides people with the maximum opportunity to live under laws that they themselves choose, and to take moral responsibility for the choices and decisions about government policies that they make as voters. It is also the only system that allows for the maximum level of social equality, as all citizens have an equal chance of being elected to decision-making positions.

Another reason for supporting democracy is that it has been shown to offer the best protection of core liberal rights, such as the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. This is largely because democratic institutions are more responsive to the views and interests of their constituents than are other forms of government, such as monarchy or aristocracy.

A third reason for promoting democracy is that it has been found to promote economic growth. This is based on the argument that undemocratic regimes tend to limit markets and favor monopolies, which are detrimental to economic growth, while democracies allow for greater competition and entrepreneurship. It is for this reason that economists like Daron Acemoglu have argued in support of democracy in their book Why Nations Fail.

Moreover, there are several epistemic justifications for promoting democracy, most notably Condorcet’s jury theorem and the theory of the wisdom of crowds. The idea is that democracy is the only form of government in which a large group of people can come up with the best solutions to collective problems because they are better able to exploit the underlying cognitive diversity of the population.

There are a variety of ways that people can help to promote and defend democracy, but the most important thing is to stay informed about what is happening in their countries and the world. Then they should make their opinions known, either to their representatives in parliament or in other institutions and media, or through joining groups working on particular issues.

Finally, they should vote whenever possible. If a policy appears to be unfair, or against human rights, then they should try to influence the decision makers to change the policy. As citizens they have a duty to ensure that their views are represented, and there is no point in criticizing democracy for failing to do this.