We have experienced it first-hand recently in the crucial mid-term elections during Obama's presidency. The powers can shift, and the course of politics can change within the blink of an eye. It may be people voicing their opinions and dissatisfaction, or it may be an inherent flaw in the system. Either way, democracy at its best and worst is both noisy and messy. There are usually no quick resolutions and rarely do people see eye to eye. It will run and function on one condition only: the hope of compromise.
Each individual ought to be given equal rights, and opinions must be valued in equal proportion. Debates will seem never-ending, and democracy is generally more talk and theory than concrete action. The election may be a culmination of talks and discussions, questions and answers, but even the occasional election is merely a moment, and then the democratically elected officials are back again on the drawing table discussing and debating issues.
This is one of the reasons why democracy does not have a place in the military, for example. In the military structure, there is a clearly defined and laid-out hierarchy; those beneath must all obey unquestioningly the orders of those at the top. Although ideologically one may disagree with this structure, pragmatically it is the best - and perhaps only - way such organizations like the military could function. In the moment of battle, quick decisions need to be made and that is delegated to the person in charge. On this particular individual rests all responsibility and that is the reason why the commander will usually get all the praise or all the blame in any given situation.
As can be seen, in a way, democracy stagnates progress. To have to take in the opinions of all the members will create clashes and delays. Yet there is another drawback with the democratic concept. It gives too much power to the concept of majority. In other words, the majority is seen as always “right.”
If the majority decides certain issues, the decision needs to be respected. But numbers, in my opinion, do not always make acts justifiable, and ironically, those whose voices are not heard, those that democracy is supposed to protect in the first place, could be the ones oppressed in the democratic system.
Of course, constitutions and charters of rights are there to protect us from cruelty and discrimination, while guaranteeing and ensuring the essential right of freedom of speech to voice one's opinions. The danger, however, could be that those creaky voices might not be heard and be suffocated in a system that thrives on majority.
I think one should find the system that is the most efficient and that works best in a large number of given situations. On paper, democracy may be the best option; in reality, it is a stumbling block and a cacophony of (white) noise. Masses are swayed and controlled rather easily by media; politicians lie and make false promises to get elected only to reveal their own hidden agenda at a later date.
Politicians are not held accountable for what they had initially pledged during their campaign. It seems to be a sad fact that the public suffers from amnesia after the elections, but it could be also that the process does not allow, or makes it extremely difficult, to recall these people from office once they are elected.
Likewise, a politician, during campaign or in office, might become populist and try to appeal to the masses. As a result, they may make decisions seen as “good” on a short-term basis, but which may be devastating for the country in the long term. Politicians, in general, have a limited term in office, so they often shy away from long-term goals and benefits and are mostly focused on the present and the immediate. And during the whole time, the eyes are steadied on the next upcoming election to prolong one's position of power.
Due to a lack of longevity, there is often no clear map, so the ship of state can be steered and jerked this way and that way with each upcoming election; sharp turns either to the left or the right of the political spectrum are commonplace. Advances will be nixed, and everybody starts from scratch and redoes and undoes laws and policies.
Politics nowadays is not that different from entertainment shows. Those who are better looking, tell us what we want to hear, are good at acting and become emotional on cue will win our votes. It is often as simple as that. Nobody would want an ugly or painfully direct president or prime minister regardless of their abilities. The majority prefers beautiful lies to the ugly truth and want people who are diplomatic and moral, whatever that may mean. Whether these elected people are capable or indeed the best option for the country are questions that are often ignored or disregarded.
Democracy would really work when people are informed and free to think for themselves and are able to make up their own minds. If they are swayed by what others think or believe, if they make decisions based on trivial and superficial criteria, democracy will be caught in a vicious circle and will end up going nowhere