Democracy: Good for electing or ejecting leaders?

There are essentially two thoughts on one of the saliencies of democracy, namely the value of elections. The one is inherently positive in outlook, that democracy provides voters with the ability to elect the most competent leader. The other one is inherently more negative. It assumes that voters aren't particularly good at electing decent leaders, but at least democracy provides an opportunity to get rid of the awful ones without revolution and bloodshed.

Of the two, which one do you believe to be the feature of democracy that should be used as a selling point?

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"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

Davis, I'm sure you know, but may have briefly forgotten, that elected politicians who fail to speak to their listeners' needs become ex-politicians.

Churchill probably did say that. He is also alleged to have said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other kinds we have tried.

I'd prefer the positive one. Sometimes I almost wish there was some kind of benign dictatorship, just to stop idiots from voting.  There was a quote that went something like "the rulers of democracy are the voters of the country". But I think it should be: "the rulers of democracy are the owners of the country," i.e. the big business interests.

Honestly, I don't think the democracy I am familiar with is particularly good at either electing or ejecting bad leaders. Here in Australia we vote for the party which we dislike the least, and for some reason, despite both of the two major parties being apparently incompetent, they recieve around 90% of the vote. For some reason, moron voters don't realise voting for a smaller party is not a wasted vote if they don't get in... we have a "preferences" system so the vote gets transferred until it counts.

Matt, I've been politically active for forty years and long ago saw a remark about democracy that I think is accurate: Elections don't guarantee us good leaders; they guarantee only that we can change leaders without resorting to assassination.

About preference balloting, San Francisco has been doing it for a few years. Someday more Americans will see that runoffs between the top two winners distort the process AND cost more money.


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