Democracy is not perfect

America is very proud of the democracy that it claims to have. I wrote “claims to have” because whether the claim is true depends on one’s interpretation of the electoral college, voting suppression and gerrymandering taking place now. While democracy has its values, like everything else, it is not bullet-proof. It is not perfect.

At the end of the day, democracy is essentially a popularity contest. Anyone getting the most votes wins an election in a democratic society. However, such popularity may not guarantee the best outcomes for that society. Let’s look at a system in which there is no electoral college, voting suppression or gerrymandering.

To get the most votes, a candidate has to present an agenda that voters will deem to be bringing benefits to the voters’ lives. Unfortunately, voters in different living environments, or business settings need and want different things. A person in an industrial rural area will have different needs and perspectives than a person in a technology hub on the East/West coast. To win the most votes, an agenda has to address different and sometimes contrasting needs across the country. Eventually, a winning agenda (the most popular as well) is usually compromised, but not the best agenda for anyone.

To make democracy work, I believe that a country should ideally have as small a population as possible and less diversity. The more diversity in a country, the less effective democracy. America is as diverse as it can get in terms of race, culture, income level, business environments and resources across the states and even counties in one state. Hence, I believe that democracy would not be as effective in America as it can be in theory.

If you look at Singapore or China, the two countries’ economy and living standards have been improved drastically under arguably the authoritative leaderships of their leaders. Obviously, some may argue that the meteoric rise came at the cost of individual freedom, especially in the case of China.

In summary, I don’t believe that there is a perfect social system. Democracy is not an exception either. Additionally, I don’t believe that a social system works in every country regardless of any differences in social fiber. There is no formula that can be used to pre-determine the effectiveness of a social system. There are too many factors in play. I cannot say that I understand how an authoritative, democratic or socialist model works in one country and doesn’t in another. But I do believe that it is wrong to overestimate or underestimate a model just because it works or doesn’t work in other countries.