Voting for your head of government whether municipal, state, or federal is a rite of passage when you are 18 years of age. It gives people the ability to choose who they would like to speak for them when it comes to making major decisions in the world such as going to war and dealing with tough situations. A representative democracy is a large part of what the United States stands for and understanding the benefits and disadvantages of such a system is important to truly grasp the idea of politics. Below are just a few examples of how a representative democracy can benefit and hurt a nation.
The Pros of a Representative Democracy
1. Efficiency is Key
When you have a representative democracy there will be candidates that stand for certain issues. Such as the right to bear arms and ensuring that everyone receives an equal chance to retirement benefits. There are hundreds of thousands of issues that Americans have in their daily lives and with the help of a representative you can know that there is someone running for government that accommodates all of your views and concerns. This method is quite efficient as you won’t have to worry about voting on hundreds of different issues that are brought to the table.
A representative democracy is also incredibly efficient because it helps to save time during the voting process as a whole. With the huge population of the country, holding several different votes throughout the year on different topics is time consuming and incredibly costly. Instead, you are given the ability to pick a fair time and a convenient place to vote for a representative that will address the majority of issues at once.
2. Participating in the Government
One of the largest benefits that you’ll hear about when it comes to a representative democracy is the fact that residents have the opportunity to participate in the government. Although you won’t have a say in the decisions that are made by the high ranking officials, you will have the ability to elect someone into office that will handle the problems like you would. This gives citizens a small amount of control over certain aspects of their daily lives such as taxes, construction, and healthcare. By taking this control away, residents simply won’t have a say in regards to anything that they encounter in their lifetime. It also adds a sense of responsibility in regards to influencing government policies.
3. It’s a Great System
Overall, you can expect a representative democracy to be the best system to have for a government not only because it’s efficient in terms of getting issues resolved and voting, but also because it helps to improve resident participation and getting a general consensus of what the population wants. People will be more motivated to make it out to the voting booths in order to select the candidate that they would prefer to have in office. This gives the government a better idea of what the people want so that they can make sure to deliver.
4. Balancing the Government
The final advantage to a representative democracy is the simple fact that it keeps the government balanced. It gives people with different beliefs and attitudes the opportunity to make a difference in the country. With the republicans, democrats, and independents there will always be a chance for someone with different views to be in office. It really depends on what the people want and the types of changes that they would like to see in their country.
The Cons of a Representative Democracy
As with anything in the world, particularly the government there are difficulties that you’ll experience. Some of the most prevalent disadvantages to a representative democracy include:
1. Misguided Representation
When it comes to running for office everyone is going to try their hardest to become an elected official and this means that there will be instances when promises are made that simply cannot be kept. Unfortunately this leads to constituents acquiring misguided representation when they thought that they were voting for something else. It’s also important to note that this becomes a real issue in terms of finances. Someone in office is generally going to have a wealthier status than their constituents, which can lead to clouded judgment when making decisions, and not having the same beliefs as the general public. As an unfortunate side effect, it is also one of the most known difficulties associated with electing officials into the government.
2. Representative vs. Direct Democracy
As a part of a country you will want to have as much say in the living conditions as possible to create a better future for yourselves and future generations. In comparison to a direct democracy, a representative strategy can be far less advantageous as it doesn’t give you as much power and control. A direct democracy allows residents to make decisions on their own about factors that matter the most to them. Whereas when you elect an official, they will be the ones making all of the tough decisions which may not be in your best interests. The idea of representative democracy can also negative affect polling numbers as individuals might not see their opinion or voice as something that is really going to make a change in the world, but simply as a number.
3. Who is Accountable?
Accountability is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to people making mistakes that impact a large population, particularly the country. Even though constituents may blame their president, senators, or mayors, the accountability really does not fall on their shoulders. Instead it’s put off onto people in their circle of government such as their chief of staff. It is also important to note that regardless of how many mistakes are made, the public cannot make a difference in terms of the government once an official has been elected. That means these individuals can break as many promises as they want, say that they have their best constituents needs in their mind but don’t, and really make a mockery of the government without facing any serious consequences during their term.
4. Oppression of the Minority
Another large issue that is frequently discussed in terms of a representative democracy is how there is a large chance that the voices of the minority will be oppressed. Even though they are a smaller portion of the population, their wants and needs are equally as important. This can lead to important issues not being addressed and many people feeling like their government is failing them.
5. Short Term Goals
Every elected representative tries to do as much as they can in the amount of time that they are given in office, which can lead to them not thinking about the future. The decisions that government officials make now will have a direct influence on the future. Short term thinking can be incredibly damaging to society as it may only account for a 4-year plan instead of what will happen 20 to 30 years from now. Also, when it is closer to reelection it can lead the official to pay less attention to the decisions that they are making now and more attention towards being reelected.