General Question

flutherother's avatar

Is democracy failing?

Asked by flutherother (29905points) 1 week ago

The West takes pride in being democratic but does the rise of populist anti-democratic figures such as Trump in the USA and Boris Johnson in the UK mean that democracy isn’t working and people are losing faith in politics and in politicians. If so, what form of government should we adopt?

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Democracy never really worked.
There have always been special interest groups.
There has always been bribery and corruption.
There has always been abuse of power.
For large swaths of history, entire groups of people had been excluded from participating.
Even now, the systems are manipulated to devalue certain people’s votes.

Democracy has always been a cripple.

LostInParadise's avatar

Maybe the rise of false populists is a first step toward greater socialism. When it is seen that the actions of Trump and company does not work, people will be open to a more progressive agenda.

JLeslie's avatar


Democracy is difficult and has pitfalls and risks, but it’s still the least risky I think over time. Without democracy you have what? Oligarchy? Dictatorship? Theocracy? Aristocracy? Those only work if the person or people in charge are truly benevolent, and the people who inherit power are also benevolent. At least with democracy the people have a say, and an ability to change the leadership without overthrowing the government, which is usually not a good situation.

The risk in democracy is majority rules, and sometimes the majority is wrong. It doesn’t even have to be over 50% in many case, just enough people that it can win a vote.

In my opinion the biggest failures happen when there is a lot of corruption in government, no matter what system is used. Integrity, morality, ethics, these are all important for a well functioning government and society.

kritiper's avatar

Judging by what history has to offer, democracy works but only for about 200 years when then it evolves into something else. Even though it isn’t perfect, because of the imperfections of men, it is the best thing going.

zenvelo's avatar

It isn’t democracy that is failing; it is corporatocracy that is failing. When the governing institutions lose connection with the people in favor of big business, the government is not sustainable.

Demosthenes's avatar

Democracy certainly can fail, as it has in countries like Russia and Turkey, which are young democracies with a history of autocratic rule that they seem to have slid back into. I don’t think democracy in general is failing, though, even it has always been flawed. We can be very spoiled here in America. We have one president we don’t like and we think the system is irrevocably broken. Vote the guy out next year :)

Zaku's avatar

People have long ago lost most “faith” in politicians and politics, and in many cases, rightly so.

Democracy has been subverted for a very long time in the USA by the two-party system and the single-vote “lesser of two evils, where both choices are Big Party corrupt pawns” system. It’s a complete farce as a form of Democracy. And it enabled Trump to become president, as most of the Trump votes reflected “fuck politics as usual” in one form or another.

Being forced to place one vote “for” one candidate is not a system that can measure approval.

Vastly better would be a system where you can vote Yes or No for every candidate, and any number of candidates can run. That would make it possible for the most approved candidate running to be elected, not just the least disapproved of two big party offerings.

And that doesn’t even mention the other layers of screwed-up un-democratic nonsense in the system, such as all the money in politics, revolving-door corporate lobbyists, etc etc etc.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I haven’t read the other responses, so I may be repeating something already stated.

That a system or policy is imperfect does not mean it does not work.

There is absolutely no idea, concept, belief, regulations, habits, or routines which will be readily adaptable to all people equally. That is the beauty of having more than one government on this planet.

If anyone feels the democracy of my country is unsuited to them, they should leave. My reasons for saying so has nothing to do with theism, racism, or any other ism. Rather than scrapping the whole thing so some Johnny come latelys can claim to have vanquished a beast, they should go, stay, be where things are working to their satisfaction.

Is democracy failing? Anyone’s answer depends on just what did they expect or want from a democracy. For me, the answer is imperfection is not the definition of failure. The better question would be, is it working?

seawulf575's avatar

This question makes some odd assumptions and statements. It calls Trump a “populist, anti-democratic figure”. This is an impossibility. It creates a person that is all about people and their rights, who also wants to take their rights away from them. But I understand it was an effort to slant the question.
It then goes on to compare Trump and Boris Johnson (apparently as the bad choices) being elected and say they are examples of democracy failing. They were elected…that is democratic. It shows that Democracy is alive and strong. Just because you don’t like who was elected doesn’t mean Democracy isn’t working…it just means that others liked those people more than you do.
It then assumes that because the people the questioner doesn’t like were elected means that people are losing faith in politics and politicians. People in the US DID lose faith in politics and politicians which is why Trump was elected. Our elected officials are corrupt and self-serving and have been for decades. The people use the democratic process to try replacing them.
I believe that people are embracing the democratic process around the world. And we are seeing a trend where more conservatives are being elected because of it. People…free people…can realize the people they have elected in the past were swayed by greed to corrupt the system and vote them out of office. It is the sane and non-violent way of changing things. And the options we have to democracy are some form of absolute monarchy, some form of violent take over to establish a dictatorship, or slavery.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t know if you have been following British politics recently but Boris Johnson our present Prime Minister was elected to that position by a total of just 92,153 votes cast by a select few within the Conservative Party. Hardly democratic. Since then he has been defeated numerous times in Parliament and has then attempted to shut Parliament down for five weeks in a move that the Supreme Court in the UK decided unanimously was illegal. Boris then had the nerve to say the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong.

The situation in the UK at the moment is, if anything, worse than that in the US. Trump was fairly elected at least but like Boris he divides the country and like Boris he shows a disdain for democratic institutions. That is what I find most concerning. It takes decades for the institutions of democracy to establish roots and grow strong. Democracy isn’t solely about casting a vote once every four years.

In the US and the UK the election of these maverick figures is leading some away from belief in democratic institutions towards faith in a single strong leader who holds these things in contempt. That, as someone with an interest in history, I find troublesome.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie try socialism, like the majority of the civilized nations have.

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, like…China? Angola? El Salvador? Venezuela? Hey! Remember when Russia went socialist? How many millions were killed? And how’d that work out for them?

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III You mean like the Nordic countries? I’m pretty sure they are still democracies. They vote for their leaders. Maybe you mean capitalism vs socialism.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Democracy is not failing. It is under stress, and some may say a great deal of it, but it’s not failing. Not yet anyway.

The US survived a literal Civil War which nearly destroyed the country. The UK has survived 2 world wars just off shore. The Bliztkrieg brought WW2 right into Britain.

Things in both countries are not ideal, but there is no reason to think the end is near. There is every reason to hope that our next election in the US will turn out the worst elements of the current government, and it’s likely that the UK will have an election soon. Let’s concentrate on doing what we can now to assist our democracies.

filmfann's avatar

Democracy is certainly on the ropes, but depending on how it responds, it may come back justified and stronger than ever.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Trump IS both a populist and anti-democratic EXACTLY as the OP states. It is the erroneous notion that a populist “is all about people and their rights” which is flawed. The proof of this is readily appreciated in any overview of the fool’s interactions with established democratic protections afforded those very people, and his unceasing efforts to circumvent the Constitution.

seawulf575's avatar

@stanleybmanly once again, you are letting your hatred taint your thinking. The definition of POPULIST is (per Merriam-Webster):
1: a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people
especially, often capitalized : a member of a U.S. political party formed in 1891 primarily to represent agrarian interests and to advocate the free coinage of silver and government control of monopolies
2: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people

Another explanation comes here:

So my definition is defended by citations. Where are the citations that support your story that my definitions are flawed? Oh wait…you NEVER support your rants.
As for the rest of your claims again…where are the citations? You claim Trump is trying to circumvent the Constitution. When? When did he ever violate the Constitution? On the other hand, his predecessor violated it repeatedly and you still defend the fool. So which is it? Is circumventing the Constitution good or bad? Get your story straight and get back to me.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Democracy fails, when it comes basically down to 2 candidates.

In the US, for example, the POTUS race, basically comes down to 2 canidates. A R, or a D. Third party votes, are essentially, a throw away vote. Third parties, and independents, are not going to win…

So. It’s basically the US public legitimizing, one of the two. THAT IS NOT DEMOCRACY!

Which is why I don’t vote.* It’s typically, choosing the less, of two evils. With the illusion that we had a choice. So. IMO. Democracy, is a failure, in the US. IF the electoral college was done way with, there would be SOME hope. But. It is set up, so that it’s really just a Republican, or Democrat. I think that a lot of Americans, are more centrist. The current system, only allows one, or the other. People vote, for one, or the other. Otherwise, they are throwing their votes away…

The two party system, is to blame…

A TRUE democracy, would not allow this…

Currently, it’s candidate A, or B . Trump won in 2016, in large part to people voting for Bernie, instead of Hillary. And Hillary still won, by over 2 million votes.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@seawulf575 Hatred again? You truly are hopeless. What you view as my tainted thinking THIS time is actually a reflection of your other favorite—a shortfall in reading comprehension. I rarely post citations, and make no apologies for it. I can state that Trump is a populist and anti democratic using your own citation to cement my case. The clue to why my assertion holds water lies in that word “claiming”. As for the fool’s incessant attempts to sideline the Constitution, each and every time the courts slap this idiot is about his usurpation of powers he does not possess—the Muslim ban, child snatching, the banning of gays in the military, you know the list. Every one of those is a violation of his oath of office to defend the Constitution. You cannot best me through running to google or worse, those right wing dumbbell screeds. Like the fool himself, you plain just don’t know or understand enough to mount a platform for cognizant argument. Trump is a populist every bit as much as Hitler and the great majority of other despots currently walking the earth.

seawulf575's avatar

@stanleybmanly sorry, hoss…until you start backing up your claims, you are just hot air…and a lot of it. You did nothing to prove me wrong with my own citation except to rant some more about how Trump is a fool. That isn’t proof, that is just sad.
Let’s look at what we have….I made a claim and disagreed. I presented facts and you argue against those facts, yet fail to produce anything of your own. Sorry…in a court of law, you would walk away the loser in a case like this.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I need not present any evidence of my own. YOUR citation proves my point precisely. And if you had the sense God gives a donut you would realize that Trump is a populist because he CLAIMS to represent the common people. Your position is that he does indeed represent those people, and I say that he lacks the sense to even recognize the interests of those people.

seawulf575's avatar

Ahh…so you are above question, no matter how ignorant your comments are. Got it. And facts don’t get in your way. Hey everybody! Pay attention! You don’t need facts, nor do you need to actually prove any of your ignorant statements…so long as they agree with @stanleybmanly. Keep that in mind.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Once again YOUR citation proves my “ignorant statement”. And you of all people would do well to suppress the urge to level charges of ignorance.

seawulf575's avatar

Yes, I know Mr. Harding, but you have yet to actually prove how my citation proves your ignorant statement. I does prove your statements are ignorant, however.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I have done EXACTLY that, only you lack the sense to realize it. YOU stated the impossibility of Trump being both a populist and antidemocratic, once again revealing your extraordinary ignorance. Of course he can be both, and anyone with a modicum of knowledge would not require a dictionary to understand that fact. Nevertheless, you persist, and when your own reference tells you point blank that a populist is one CLAIMING to represent the common man, you are incapable of admitting that such a man might possess antidemocratic tendencies. It is an appalling demonstration of obstinate denial in the face of irrefutable proof? But worse, your failure to appreciate so obvious a fact demonstrates that you don’t know a populist from a hill of beans. You sir are a PROFOUNDLY ignorant man!

seawulf575's avatar

Again…you have voiced opinion with no backing by facts whatsoever. Your hot air does not beat the facts. You are still out to lunch, sir.

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