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The (False) Promise of Democracy

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Democracy is the best system for choosing the best leaders, democracy protects freedom, and democracy is the best government ever devised! Or at least that is what so many of us are led to believe.

If it were at all true, I’d be the first one in support of Democracy.

When someone says to a monarchist like myself, “why would you want a king? Kings are stupid and inbred! Democracy gives you the best chance for the best government”, I can’t help but roll my eyes. Leaving aside the fact that this belief is blatantly false to anyone who has even just a high school level history education, democracy does not guarantee the best, by any metric. Certainly, I will freely admit that there can be found profoundly gifted democratic candidates and leaders, but those individuals are not a dime a dozen, such men and women are rare blue moons. They only come around at best once a generation and at worst once every century.

If democracy was the guarantor of good government, then it would follow that all democratic politicians are the best leaders western history ever produced. Maria Theresia (Austria), Louis IX (France), Frederick II (Prussia), Elizabeth I (England), and George III (Great Britain) should all beware, their places in history are now to be challenged by the likes of Karl Nehammer, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, Rishi Sunak, and Joseph Biden…Such a ludicrous comparison frankly speaks for itself.

Sometimes when confronted with this fact, proponents of democracy shift to a different tactic, democracy might not be the guarantor of good government or good leadership, but it allows you to remove bad leadership or unpopular leadership. This myth is easily falsified by the rise of every demagogue from Cromwell to Napoleon, and Mussolini to Hitler; even the approval ratings of the American congress compared to their re-election rates. Dictators so obviously wanting in morals and decency, their people certainly had no problem in supporting them. As far as congressmen/women go, I make no claim on their morals; only that the citizens of the USA view congress with unrivaled contempt, yet there in those halls they remain and continue to return.

But wait! There’s More! Next, they try to continue tacking, “It’s easy!” they say. “All we do is make those views illegal!” Ah, finally an answer to everything…Not really.

Making heterodox, or even strongly oppositional, views illegal offers a basic conundrum and solves nothing, that it lies in stark contrast to the very idea of democracy itself; the people rule and deserve to get what they want (good and hard). Making certain political positions illegal means 1) that democracy needs to be protected (and many self-described democrats have said as much), or in other terms “we don’t trust the demos enough to make the right choice.” In that you have agreement from this monarchist, the difference is that I freely admit it and they still pretend to believe in democracy.

But it also has another key problem, 2) that such a list of perceived dangerous views (potentially even codified as dangerous) will inevitably continue to grow in scope. This means that any views, even those that are not even close to existential, simply being viewed as threats makes them threats. It’s a process of de-platforming and silencing, of being unable to address the opposition or combat them effectively, so it is just better to crush their influence and visibility. Well, what do ya know! Happening now, isn’t it?

Democracy does not guarantee good government, it doesn’t guarantee good leadership, it doesn't guarantee my liberty as an individual and can often threaten my liberty. The unchecked power of a democracy can often be just as corrosive as that of any dictatorship. Hopefully our modern world will start to understand this and start questioning these basic assumptions before we all run our ships right into the ground.

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