Charlotte Swenson

St. Mary’s Academy

High School


Democracy is the governmental system in which people vote for their leaders. In the United States, we are a democracy, but why does it matter? Compared to authoritarian political systems, what is it that makes a democracy superior? The answer is the power of the people. Through a democratic system, people can effectively voice their opinion, hold leaders accountable, and ensure that the power is in the hands of the majority. So democracy matters because through it we gain our rights.

The first thing that makes democracy so important is the fact that it gives the people the right to vote in what they believe. In many authoritarian governments, in which maintains strict control over the people, citizens do not have the freedom to vote for who they want to be put into office. There are many reasons for that such as they only have one party that they can vote for, citizens will receive some negative consequence if they vote for who they want, or the main party killed their opposition.
In the United States, our government is libertarian, which means that people have a lot of freedom and the ability to make choices for themselves without substantial governmental restrictions. In our libertarian government, all people over eighteen are allowed to vote, but it hasn’t always been that way.

At the beginning of the United States only white, property-owning males could vote. Then, after the civil war, African American men gained the right to vote with the fifteenth amendment to the US constitution in 1870. Then after a long period of advocacy by women such as Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, women finally were able to vote in 1920 with the passage of the nineteenth amendment.
Now that all people have the right to vote, we are able to express our vote on controversial topics without fear of consequence, put our desired candidate in office, and gain the ability to change the world.

In the United States, we have many issues which polarize the people, such as gun control, abortion, and fracking. With the ability to vote, people have a say in what they do and do not support which influences the outcome. People have the means to affect what happens in their community and change the world for the better. For example, people vote for who they want to be the president of the United States every four years, and when voting they try to consider which candidate is best for them and their community. In the recent election of Donald Trump, a significant number of reactionaries who believe very firmly in what Trump was promising came to vote, and he won the election. Sometimes a democracy losses its power when people are too lazy or detached to vote on matters of utmost importance.

Another benefit of democracy is that it gives power to the majority of people instead of having the minority ruling. In many authoritarian governments, the people are ruled by the minority and are oppressed and discriminated against. For example, in Haiti before their revolution, which was called Saint-Domingue at the time, was led by white men, even though the majority of their population was black. This has happened many times throughout history in which someone or a party gains power, yet they don’t represent the majority of the people. That leads to corruption, oppression, and lack of concern for the people. In the United States, we live in a democracy so that we can vote for our officials. Since all people are able to vote, the majority wins in an election and voting on a matter. It would not be possible for someone to take control if they did not have the approval of a large amount of the population. This benefit prevents the United States from oppressing minorities, having a genocide, or discriminating largely. The US is becoming more diverse over time as more races blend, and soon the majority will be in the minority, which is called minority-majority. In our democracy, if an opponent doesn’t win the presidential race, there are still many opportunities for them to represent the people through the house of representatives, senate, governors, city council, and so much more.

The last significant benefit of a democratic system is that it holds leaders accountable. In an authoritarian government, many leaders do not have terms, so they are not afraid of being voted out or they are a dictator and do not give the people the ability to get rid of them. The first way Americans keep our elected officials accountable is through having terms. Each position is ruling has a term limit, so the official will try to please the people, so they get re-elected. If the official did not benefit the people throughout their term, the citizens would not re-elect that person. While in office the officials are required to be transparent towards the people about what they are doing so that the people can trust the leader and make sure they are doing what the majority wants. If an official does something very terrible, the people can vote in a recall election which would end the term of the president. This keeps the leaders from committing horrific crimes and making rash decisions.

Also, in a democracy, the people are allowed to stand up for what they believe in through marches and advocacy. In authoritarian governments, people may be killed or sent to jail for speaking against the ruling party, but in the democratic system in the United States, it is our right to free speech, even against the government. In America, there are many marches that people put on to say that they don’t agree with the actions the government is taking. Some examples of these were the women’s march, black lives matter, and the march for our lives. These acts of standing up for what we think is right influence the decisions the elected officials make.

In conclusion, democratic systems are far superior to authoritarian systems because people get to vote on what they believe in, give power to the majority, and hold their elected officials accountable for their actions.

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Comment by Lillian Swenson on December 3, 2018 at 12:55pm

Great Essay! 

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