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Democracy Is Flawed

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"A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they are not true...I do not deserve a share in governing a hen-roost much less a nation. Nor do most people...The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters."
C. S. Lewis, Equality

Some writers don't believe Democracy Is Bad per se. They see it as the best system we've got. That said they don't think it is perfect, and they've written something to get this viewpoint across.

Writers who are utilizing this trope will lay bare the flaws of democracy but not demonize it. They will point out the safeguard against tyranny it provides while pointing out that the influence of narrow interest groups, an unaware populace and a biased media can still lead to the people being manipulated into voting against their interests or even simply not having a candidate that represents their interests to choose. They will note that it allows the checking of unwise usage of power while at the same time leading to polarization and paralysis. The overall use of this trope is one that is in favour of democratic procedures (in fact, one of their main criticisms may be that the system isn't democratic enough) but that said procedures are still full of holes.

More philosophical works may speak of the human element as reason for why democracy is flawed.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Smurfs: When Papa Smurf is away, the Smurfs argue who should be the new leader. In the first round of voting, everyone votes for himself. The second round ends with a Smurf elected (by making empty promises) who installs a monarchy with himself as the king.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Optimus Prime eventually renounced Autobot dominance over Cybertron and allowed its citizens to elect a leader. They chose Starscream. Starscream has since found himself somewhat beholden to the people he now rules, and the Council of Worlds that includes representatives from various colony worlds. He's unhappy about having to answer to people who have no idea what kind of stresses he's under to actually be a good leader, but surprisingly enough he actually is trying. If only to spite those who think he can't handle it.
  • In Project Superpowers, Boy King claims that the only time that democracy is preferable to a monarchy is if the throne is occupied by an unwise king, because otherwise, democracy just invites mob rule. Of course, since Boy King is the unelected monarch of a small Eastern-European country, he may be a bit biased.
  • While the democratization of the world in the The Legend of Korra animated series is portrayed as a good thing, the followup comics show that implementing that democracy in practice is hard work. The second series The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire has Korra go to the Earth Kingdom to help them with their fledging democracy. It's estimated that it will take a full year before they can have elections and the Earth Kingdom has never been democratic so it's hard to get others on board. The confusion is also used as a means to an end by Guan, the villain.
  • Democracy is also this, along with Democracy Is Bad. Cleisthenes' reforms improved the life of many citizens and felt strong and ready to protect their city from the Persian attack. Women and slaves would still not have a vote, though.
  • At the end of the Earth X trilogy, Mar-Vell has to warn Reed Richards not to let Steve Rogers turn the Paradise into a democracy, because Heaven has to be better than the lowest common denominator of a popular vote.

    Fan Works 
  • It's not an uncommon theme for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics to use this trope, seeing as how Celestia is supposed to be a good queen (well, princess) but viewers tend to associate democracy with the "good" form of government. In some politically focused stories, Princess Celestia and/or Luna exhibits this attitude to explain why Equestria remains under an eternal monarchy/diarchy.
    • Equestria: A History Revealed: While it started off promising, the Equinus Republic quickly devolved into politicians holding their own private agendas, constant lack of consensus and progress, and pointless bickering in Parliament. This all sets the stage for the rise of Discord.
    • The Equestrian Civil Service Series splits the difference by making Equestria a constitutional monarchy (or possibly diarchy) that's very similar to the real-life Westminster system, which isn't surprising for a series that owes so much inspiration to Yes, Minister.
    • Sunshine and Fire: Celestia uses this logic to argue against the parallel universe version of Applejack and her plan to overthrow her own world's version of Celestia (a corrupt, insane tyrant) and install democracy in her place. She specifically focuses on how, in addition to democracy's normal flaws (aka susceptibility to inefficiency, corruption, infighting and mob justice), Applejack wants to install it on a world that has known nothing but tyranny and oppression for a thousand years, and in particular where "the majority" will be drawn from a species that was repressed for those thousand years and which would thusly be eager to oppress those who had power beforehand in turn.
  • The Legend of Genji: The monarchical Earth Kingdom has reformed into the democratic Earth Federation. However, the kingdom was plagued throughout its history by problems of corruption and political infighting, which have carried over into the new Federation. Most of the power is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy and the upper classes, resulting in a technical but heavily corrupt democratic system. Issues like expansionist politics, social inequality, and poverty are also still a problem. In addition, fringe cultures like the sandbender tribes are frequently subjected to racism and forced off their lands so the government can harvest their resources.
  • White Sheep: General Ironwood has many problems with the Atlas Council, and Jaune finds it impossible to get them to capitulate to his extremely minor, perfectly reasonable demands. Despite Ironwood's complaints, he is quick to insist that democracy is far better than the alternative. The big problem is that Jaune has basically forced them into the worst possible situation for a democratic council: Making a snap decision, with minimal information, and what information they do have runs counter to everything the people have believed for centuries. Due to the myth of Atlas' invincibility, if the politicians give Jaune what he wants they will all immediately be impeached and the country will be thrown into chaos. Jaune and Ironwood reach a compromise by faking a war, which puts the country under martial law and leaves Ironwood as the sole person with any authority. The plan is to fight for a few weeks and then "force" Jaune to "accept" peace, ignoring the fact that this is what he wanted all along.

  • Star Wars:
    • In the prequel trilogy, then-Senator Palpatine uses the political mire of the Galactic Senate to ignite his scheme of overthrowing the Jedi and Senate to establish a Sith Empire. In the Expanded Universe, it's implied that a large amount of the corruption in the Senate for the millenium was due to the Sith. All Palpatine did was fulfill it.
    • One of the most overwhelming themes of the Legacy of the Force series. Pretty much every problem is caused by the Galactic Federation, and pretty much every one of those is because it's a democracy.
    • Star Wars: The Clone Wars focuses in further on the issues with the Senate. The Republic is supposed to be "the good guys", but the series demonstrates that much of their leaders are openly greedy and driven by public perception and not the common good, many of the Senators are secretly aligned with the Separatists while feigning neutrality to keep up their war profits, and what few good senators are left (i.e. Padmé Amidala, Bail Organa) are unable to make much headway in trying to keep their fledgling democracy from falling apart. The preceding Imperial Era proves that the democratic system wasn't bad per se (at least compared to the horrors Palpatine inflicted), but it had become so hopelessly corrupt by general ineptitude, single-minded focus, and a forced mentality of blind patriotism that it sent a dire warning that such a system only works if good people remain vigilante to prevent the rot of corruption from festering within the system.
    • Unfortunately, the galaxy didn't get the memo. After the fall of the Empire, the New Republic, as shown on The Mandalorian and Ahsoka, became just as hopeless complacent and corrupt as their predecessors because they thought the Empire was beaten and too weak enough to mount a counterattack. Boy, were they wrong on that.
  • Sunshine. When the Icarus II crew is discussing the option of diverting the mission to intercept the Icarus I so they can retrieve the payload and possibly save their crew if they are still alive, Mace wants to put it up to a vote. Searle points out that they are in no way a democracy — they're a group of astronauts and scientists on a mission to save mankind. Therefore, they shouldn't make an arbitrary decision based on popular consensus but strive to make the most informed decision possible. The team member who is best qualified to understand the theory and complexities of the payload delivery is Capa, their theoretical physicist. He makes the decision to intercept.

  • A Conspiracy of Truths: There are severe, persistent problems with Nuryevet's government. Some in spite of it being a democracy, some because of it being a democracy.
  • This was a key theme of the late Allen Drury's Advise and Consent series (written between the late 1950's and the mid-1970's). He sought to show, sometimes Anviliciously, that American democracy, as inefficient as it often is, is infinitely preferable to the "efficient" tyranny of Communist regimes.
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Vetinari mentions a town voting to make itself democratic, then immediately voting to no longer pay taxes. Given the general Humans Are Bastards and Morons tendencies on the Disc, the only viable forms of government are monarchies and dictatorships.
    • The Ephebians have an elected head of state (elected by a very small minority of rich men, that is) but as it's a parody of Athens' own democracy in ancient times, it's hardly a democracy as we'd understand it: the head of state has the official title of "Tyrant" and doesn't appear to have any checks on his powers other than a fixed term in office.
    • Referenced in The Fifth Elephant:
      Vimes had once discussed the Ephebian idea of 'democracy' with Carrot, and had been rather interested in the idea that everyone had a vote until he found out that while he, Vimes, would have a vote, there was no way in the rules that anyone could prevent Nobby Nobbs from having one as well. Vimes could see the flaw there straight away.
    • King Verence II of the Lancre is a well-meaning fellow that attempted to implement a parliament. His subjects however, clearly have no interest in doing what they think is his job for him. Ironically, this (along with other implications) clearly implies the populace already have some sense of self-determination.
    • After the last king of Ankh-Morpork, the ironically nicknamed Lorenzo the Kind, was killed by "Stoneface" Vimes, democracy was established in the city. The people immediately voted against it, as they didn't want to be ruled by idiots like their neighbors.
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • Glory Road, a doctor of sociology of a highly advanced civilization mentions to the hero (who is from present day Earth) that democracy is "a good system for beginners", while stating that advanced civilizations have far better ways of government.
    • Time Enough for Love: Lazarus Long makes the following comment regarding democracy: "Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something." However, he also shows doubts regarding autocracy: "Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?"
  • High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World: The Republic of Elm needs to decide the issue of whether or not to help Yamato, where voting yes could restart hostilities with the Freyjagard Empire while voting no means betraying their nation's ideals. Both choices have their pros and cons, but the voters on both sides aren't thinking as hard about the long-term consequences as Tsukasa. It's also clear that they still have to rely on Tsukasa to find out how to implement their decision and plan for potential consequences. Worse yet, the pro-war side is being manipulated by a smooth-talking but wicked former noble, showing that it's easy for bad actors to manipulate public opinion. While the corrupt noble is arrested and the two political parties come to a compromise, it's clear that the democratic system would have fallen apart without the Luminaries' interference. That said, Tsukasa believes having the citizens vote over the issue is preferable to them killing each other in a civil war.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes spends a lot of time showing that democracy at is best is nowhere near as good as the best that can be done with an iron fist, but it also is unlikely to sink quite as low. The Free Planets Alliance is corrupt to the core, but people can still complain about it without being sent to The Gulag. The Empire, in the meantime, can go from golden age to decadence all on the basis of who's in charge of it, and the rights of its citizens are tied to The Emperor's whims. However, Reinhart eventually enshrines said rights with a constitution; but he couldn't have done so without taking supreme power in a coup.
  • Niccolò Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy suggests that unrestrained democracy would lead to anarchic chaos, but it was necessary for liberty in balance with aristocracy and monarchy in a true Republic. In contrast to his more famous work The Prince, which sidestepped the issue entirely. It is worth noting that Machiavelli's ideal form of republic is a notable forerunner of the modern idea of checks and balances in government.
  • One traditional interpretation of Thucydides' writings has been that democracies need leaders, but that leadership itself can be fundamentally dangerous to democracy. This does not appear to be intended as a condemnation of democracy in and of itself, but a warning to the electorate of the need for vigilance.
  • In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Douglas Adams presents a lengthy parable about first-past-the-post voting systems (see Duverger's Law under the real life section below), in which people are ruled by lizards, whom they universally hate. They all have the vote, so they assume the government they have resembles the one they actually want, but they persist in voting for lizards, because if they didn’t vote for a lizard, “the wrong lizard might get in”.
  • Caliphate shows democracy giving way to fascist regimes coming into power: after the United States suffers a nuclear attack by Islamic terrorists, the people overwhelmingly vote for a third party demagogue that vows to make them pay and proceeds to nuke the entire Muslim world in retribution. Meanwhile, Western Europe has a high influx of Muslim refugees who overwhelmingly vote to transform the European Union into the titular Caliphate, where non-Muslims and women are second class citizens. Yet, several characters lament how miserable the world has become, but rather than blame democracy for its downfall, they miss its loss instead and wish the world had been freer.
  • City of Light: Palidia is a representative democracy, with a lot of the familiar problems-a huge class divide despite political equality in theory, strongly antagonistic politics and difficulty handling crises which their democratic government can't deal with quickly. This results in them turning into a dictatorship.
  • Comes up multiple times in books by Brandon Sanderson:
    • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, after the Final Empire is overthrown, the heroes form a constitutional monarchy to administer the city. Ultimately, the elected parliament promptly votes them out of office and sides with their enemies. In retrospect, Elend shouldn't have written that clause into his constitution. In the end, he is forced to dissolve the government and declare himself emperor in order to save what's left of humanity.
    • However, by The Alloy of Law, set in the same world several hundred years down the line, the Empire has been dissolved and the government is democratically elected and runs seemingly smoothly outside of a fairly normal level of corruption. Elend is even referred to in the histories as "The Last Emperor". Ultimately, it's less the Democracy is Bad, and more that Elend's attempts to set one up were too idealistic and naive for the situation he found himself in.
    • The Stormlight Archive:
      • Dalinar initially tries to work with the Alethi highprinces peacefully to fight the coming Desolation, but eventually gives up and decides to just force them into it. And of course, it doesn't even occur to him to allow the lesser nobles or lowborn to have a more direct say in the matter. In the second book (Words of Radiance), he sadly asks Wit if he's a tyrant. Wit says yes—but unfortunately, a tyrant is what they need right now.
        Wit: Do not sorrow. It is an era for tyrants. I doubt this place is ready for anything more, and a benevolent tyrant is preferable to the disaster of weak rule. Perhaps in another place and time, I'd have denounced you with spit and bile. Here, today, I praise you as what this world needs.
      • Alethkar actually does have an extremely basic form of democracy: All citizens have the right to travel, and landowners have authority based on the number of people who follow them. Bad landlords, in theory, will quickly find themselves without any citizens. Of course, lower-class citizens rarely have money to travel, and soldiers have this right suspended so landlords always have plenty of armed men to enforce their will. It has such a minor effect on politics that it's never even mentioned as something that the nobles have to worry about.
      • In the fourth book (Rhythm of War), Jasnah is working to turn her kingdom into a republic once the war is over, and Wit cheerfully refers to Dalinar as a horrifying dictator again. Dalinar, on the other hand, is befuddled at the idea of any even mildly democratic government. He explicitly sees a nation as basically a very large army, and therefore it needs a single strong authority figure in charge.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful deconstructs a common argument for trusting a democratically elected government, namely, that people cannot be trusted to run their own lives:
    “And if we’re too stupid to make those decisions for ourselves, how are we smart enough to elect the right elected officials to make those same decisions for all of us, including you? Is the voting booth like the Great Teacher from that TV show?”

    Live-Action TV 
  • Luka Kovac expresses a belief similar to this to John Carter in the first episode of the "Doctors Without Borders" arc of ER. It probably helps that he's lived through a time in his native Croatia when there was no democracy.
  • It's not clear if this was an intentional Aesop, but a great many of the Rag-Tag Fleet's problems in Battlestar Galactica (2003) could have been avoided if President Roslin would favour expert advice over public opinion. Roslin becoming president is even a potential example of this trope: before the Cylon attack she was a mid-ranking member of the Department of Education. She became president simply because she was the highest ranking (read only) member of the civilian government left alive, so the line of succession fell to her despite her obvious lack of qualification.
  • Doom Patrol (2019): Crazy Jane has sixty-four different personas living inside her head, in a mental construct called The Underground. They tend to hold votes to decide things like what they should do in various situations. Unfortunately, the reason Jane has so many personas is because she developed Dissociative Personality Disorder as a result of sexual abuse she suffered as a child. Consequently, her personas range from "quirky" to "absolutely dysfunctional" in personality and on top of that most of them besides Jane stay in the Underground either full-time or most of the time and have little if any idea of how to interact with the real world. As a result, any time they vote to override Jane (who's one of the saner personas and who spends most of her time fronting and therefore does understand the real world), they tend to mess things up badly. Examples include putting Karen (a telepath who's obsessed with 90s sitcoms and tries to Mind Rape every handsome man she meets into falling in love with her), The Hangman's Daughter (who doesn't want to do anything but paint and doesn't even understand things like eating or sleeping), or Baby Doll (a telekinetic with the emotional maturity of a young child) in charge.
  • Game of Thrones: This applies to House Greyjoy, although the show made it even more obvious than in the books that the power will stay in the hand of the Feudal Overlord family (one of the perk of being an overlord, power and influence are hard to lose) as no one proposed themselves once Theon backed up Yara's claim but another Greyjoy. And of course, there is the fact that the common people of the Iron Islands, and the thralls and salt wives, don't get a vote. In the books they make it more explicit that any ship captain can put themselves forward as a candidate — it's just that the main families like the Greyjoys tend to be the most famous and successful, so they usually win. In turn, this means they will probably continue to have opportunities to be successful, so power does tend to be concentrated in a few families (they only tend to get voted out of power if they really screw up). In the book version, three other minor fringe candidates try to run against Yara and Euron but they don't even make it through the first round of voting and quickly give up. Democracy is Flawed also applies in the sense that the ship captains voting at the Kingsmoot tend to be easily swayed by grandstanding and empty promises — in the books, it was considered unusual that a few of the smarter lords actually support Yara, based on her appeal to reason and logic ("What the hell do you think will happen if we keep harassing the mainlanders?")
  • Yes, Minister played with this one, as neither idealistic front-bench rookie Jim Hacker nor his much more experienced and rather jaded Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Humphrey were ever consistently in the wrong.
  • Adam Ruins Everything: "Adams Ruins Voting". Adam explains the problems with the American electoral process, from the racism and elitism of the Founding Fathers, to the irregularities of the electoral college, to disenfranchisement of minorities and felons, to gerrymandering. But then Adam talks about how the system and the franchise has improved greatly over the years, and how voting can solve these problems.
  • Black Sails: Pirate Captains are democratically elected, and the crew can call votes for a change of leadership if they so desire. This causes all sorts of problems for the captains, particularly Flint, who's grand vision for Nassau and the future of piracy is frequently threatened by his greedy and short-sighted crewmates. But on the flip side, many of the captains -especially Flint- will abuse their position when they can get away with it. This rule exists to ensure that the Captain is always acting in the best interests of the crew.
  • Black Mirror: "The Waldo Moment" is a story about a blue cartoon bear running in a British by-election. Despite Waldo and the comedian who plays him standing for no policies and his increasingly pissed off voice actor openly admitting to such, he plays on cynicism and apathy of the electorate towards the political system and attracts a lot of votes. End result: Waldo comes second (with Conservatives first and Labour and Lib Dems behind) and goes on to become the mascot for a global populist right-wing movement. If you notice the similarities between Waldo and Pepe the frog, congrats.
  • The Orville: "Majority Rule" satirizes a direct e-democracy (by way of upvotes and downvotes on social media) via a planet with such a form of government which is very similar to a modern day Earth. LaMarr is filmed doing something unbelievably stupid and rude but not actually damaging, and is sentenced to a lobotomy unless he can manage to throw himself on the public's mercy such that he doesn't score 10 million downvotes. It's also later revealed that everything on the planet runs on this kind of system, including things that should be instead based on concrete facts for everyone's benefit, such as what medicines cure what diseases and what kinds of foods are good for you. On the other hand, Captain Mercer speaks positively of the Planetary Union's representative democracy, which (as shown in other episodes) while arguably too willing to tolerate abuses by certain members for pragmatic reasons, does ultimately at least try to do the right thing most of the time.
  • The first episode of Blackadder the Third mocks this in a parliamentary election in a Rotten Borough. Rotten, or pocket, boroughs were Parliamentary constituencies in England where, due to irregular redistricting to account for population shifts and strict voter registration requirements, the constituency has very few actual voters in it, thus allowing the election to be easily rigged. The episode has the district in question have precisely one registered voter in it, who is Blackadder. This was Truth in Television for the era the show was depicting (if not quite to that ludicrous an extent), though the loopholes that made it possible did get fixed in real life as time went on.

  • Arrow's Impossibility Theorem is a mathematical proof that no ranked voting system that reflects the population's preferences is immune to spoiler candidates (assuming that more than one person's vote counts).

  • Bloodywood's native India is the world's largest democracy by population, and "Gaddaar" criticizes politicians who stoke ethnic and religious tensions to get votes but then enjoins listeners to "become the generation that breaks the camel's back"—i.e. India's democracy is flawed but still salvageable.

  • Dice Funk:
    Jess: The problem is—
    Austin: Democracy!
    Jess: Well, that's part of the problem....

    Professional Wrestling 
  • TNA had pulled out all the wrestlers it had under contract, so at ROH Generation Next a poll of the fans was proposed to decide who was the top up and coming wrestler in the company, since that was who was mostly on the card only for Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Jack Evans and be declared the best things in Ring of Honor by Alex Shelley, who claimed he had talent on loan from God before trashing the ballots and proceeding to highjack the show to prove it. The fans who were denied their voting, approved.
  • The Shield's motive was to destroy fan favorite wrestlers because they realized their company had become a popularity contest whose direction was determined by audience popularity. However, they turned face when they saw what The Authority felt was "best for business".
  • WWE has held events where fans can vote on future matches (opponents, stipulations,etc.). Typically, the choices will be such that one choice will obviously get the most votes in order to maintain their planned storylines.

  • The Book of Mormon: When King Mosiah abdicates in favor of a democracy, he notes that while "the voice of the people" will usually work, there may come a day when majority vote will support wickedness (which does indeed happen later in the book of Helaman). He also notes that when a king is righteous, a monarchy is preferable; democracy exists to avoid the inevitable wicked kings that lead the people astray and are very difficult to dethrone.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A variant occurs in the Vampire: The Masquerade Brujah clanbook, in which the narrator admits that, while the Camarilla is flawed and there are many things that the Brujah don't like about it, it's still the best idea that vampires have come up with so far and should be maintained until something better is created.
  • In BattleTech, the Free Worlds League is the closest thing to a democracy in the Feudal Future. Nobility does not necessarily imply planetary lordship, and there is a strong planetary democratic tradition. However, prevalent sectionalism ensures that the FWL is the most unstable state, having succumbed to repeated civil wars that its neighbors are keen to exploit. Initially, the Captain-General was a temporary military posting, but during 300 years of total war it became an executive hereditary position occupied by House Marik, and slowly became more powerful than the elected parliament.

  • And, as always, Shakespeare did it ages ago in his famous To Be or Not to Be speech in Hamlet:
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office...
  • This trope is also significantly part of Coriolanus' motivation, as he believes the people are too stupid and petty to be allowed to vote.
  • The musical Knickerbocker Holiday has as its primary moral that a government run inefficiently by a council of fat and stupid men is better than one run efficiently by a dictator.
  • Referenced in 1776, the musical about the founding of America, when Franklin quotes Plato:
    "What do you think, Doctor? Democracy. What Plato called 'A charming form of government, full of variety and disorder.' I never knew Plato had been to Philadelphia."

    Video Games 
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War: Helios calculates that democracy's inherent flaw is that, in its desire to prevent the tyranny of those who crave power through checks and balances, it ironically develops into something so 'comically' complex that only sociopathic power-cravers can ever want, understand, and master the madness of big democracy, meaning that bad guys almost always get elected and stay in office over good guys. It concludes that the only way to create a truly functioning democracy is to force literally everyone to participate in democracy. In Helios' ending, Helios becomes a pseudo-tyrant, ruling over all of humanity unopposed but intentionally brainwashing itself to collect the thoughts of all humans and follow majority rule. Humanity is completely stripped of its individuality and privacy, but otherwise lives in a thriving post-scarcity world where cooperative culture has never been stronger.
  • The New California Republic in Fallout: New Vegas is a democracy styled after pre-War America (as it was perceived by most survivors. That the actual America in the days before the War was not so much "flawed" as it was almost as much an authoritarian, nigh-totalitarian regime as the Communists it decried is a recurring plot element in the series), and most characters in the game say it's flawed but a hell of a lot better than suffering under a military dictatorship like some other areas. The other choices in the Mojave Wasteland are under the usually-benevolent rule of autocratic Mr. House, or totalitarian slavery under Caesar's Legion. In-universe, characters non-aligned with either faction will generally see flaws and strengths in all factions, but while both NCR and Mr. House are regarded as morally gray, the Legion is near universally condemned by those outside of it.
  • In Transistor, people in Cloudbank can constantly vote on different things in the city. This gives the citizens the power to change everything in the city on a whim, whether it be the weather, the architecture, or the color of the sky. Reacting to this is the main motivation of the antagonists; their motto is "When everything changes, nothing changes."
  • In Civilization, democracy has the highest output for productivity, population growth, trade, and science. However, it is incredibly hard to keep your citizens from rioting and even more difficult to wage war due to the high cost of maintaining an army and the unhappiness of your citizens.
  • The Komi Republic in The New Order Last Days Of Europe is a young Disaster Democracy established in former Soviet territory after the nation's defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany in World War II. Syktyvkar boasts a constitution and multi-party democracy but the true nature of the democratic scene is a nightmarishly chaotic Pandora's Box of extremist ideologies as the country welcomes exiles who were kicked out of everywhere else, and has Weimar-style paramilitary fighting on a regular basis. Komi can result in some of the best unifying forces for Russia (like Bukharina's left-communist nation or a liberal democracy) and one of the absolute worst (Taboritsky's deranged Imperial cultist necrocracy that collapses with his death, causing a second, worse Russian Anarchy).
  • In Far Cry 6, Anton Castillo, the dictator of Yara, is actually the democratically elected President of the country. There's no indication it was a flawed election or he cheated either. It's just as soon as he was elected, he turned around and instituted a draconian military dictatorship before suspending elections. Clara Garcia, the Big Good, further states that free elections won't magically make this legacy go away either.
  • Rise of the Third Power: One of the Resistance members in Republic of Tariq notes that the country's democratic system means it takes longer for the government to get anything done. This is shown in Nadim, where the commoners riot because the government fails to address their poverty. While part of this is due to the losses the country suffered in the Great War, some NPC dialogue indicates that the senators and other authority figures are beholden to the aristocrats rather than the masses as a whole. When the party arrives in Ishtala, they find that it'll take weeks for the senate to decide on whether or not to help Princess Arielle. However, Rashim believes that if it weren't for the democratic process, it would be easier for tyrants like Noraskov to take power. In Peren Desh, Gage acknowledges that Arkadya's theocratic system is even more flawed and it already allowed several despots to rise to power before Noraskov.
  • Phoenix Point: Synedrion, one of the game's major factions, is an idealistic anarcho-syndicalist direct democracy that officially has no leaders and equal representation for everyone, including Artificial Intelligence. However, their absolute democracy is held back by a necessarily Vast Bureaucracy riven with factionalism and petty infighting, leaving them unable to quickly react to problems or settle on a direction forward (which the movement's founders can't help but acknowledge). For all their flaws, however, the game paints them as A Lighter Shade of Grey, and their campaign endings (varying by which internal faction the player supports) are among the most positive.

  • Schlock Mercenary: Played for Laughs. Sorlie organizes a very large group so that they can vote safely and efficiently on important matters; she says that she believes democracy is the best form of government both morally and practically. It's pointed out that they might very well vote to put her in charge. She immediately says that democracy is flawed.
  • Ozy and Millie: In the middle of an arc parodying election politics where Llewelyn ran for President on a lark and nearly won despite deliberately having the most absurd platform he could think of in the hopes of losing (including having a stack of pancakes as a running mate, promising to outlaw bread, and proposing to sell Arizona and New Mexico back to Mexico and using the money to buy British Columbia), the cast had a special comic on election day proper stating that democracy depends on an informed electorate, and as such, it is the civic duty of most Americans, who don't pay attention to politics outside of election season and vote on impulse with no real understanding of the issues, to not vote.

    Web Original 
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon: Democracy Mode was originally met with contempt and scorn. The Voices learned to live with it after a week, decrying it as slow but having formed a common enemy in the form of The PC. On the 16th day, with the end so close at hand and the nearest checkpoint a full three hours away, the Anarchists begrudgingly agreed to let Democracy go off during the boulder-pushing puzzles.

    Western Animation 
  • In Justice League episode "A Better World", when Batman Prime fights and argues with Batman the Justice Lord, they briefly touch on the topic of democracy, which Lord!Batman quickly dismisses, because "it has other virtues, but it doesn't keep you very safe". He eventually defeats Prime!Batman by pointing out that in his totalitarian world, no 8 year-old boy would lose his parents because of some punk with a gun; Prime!Batman has to admit that he has a point. Later on though, Prime!Batman gets him back when pointing out how their parents would have hated living in a totalitarian dictatorship, after they witness a grumpy customer get arrested by the secret police for complaining about a restaurant bill; in both cases, punks with guns are still taking parents away, but the latter for far pettier reasons.
  • The Legend of Korra: Between books one and two, United Republic shifted from a bender-dominated oligarchy to a democratic republic. This effectively quelled the anti-bender uprising book one focused on, but the newly-elected President Raiko is a thoroughly ineffectual leader who puts his own public approval above the actual good, scapegoats the Avatar, and has an overly-narrow focus on his own country (even against threats to the whole world). However, in The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, his approval rating has been completely trashed because of this, and he is ultimately voted out of office.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Bart's Comet", Congress is preparing to unanimously pass a bill to evacuate Springfield. Just before the Speaker can name what state Springfield is in, a Congressman adds a rider for $30 million to support the perverted arts. The bill is immediately defeated.
    Kent Brockman: I've said it before and I'll say it again: Democracy simply doesn't work.


Video Example(s):


League Batman vs. Lord Batman

Our Batman ultimately can't think of a response to his tyrannical counterpart, and neither could the writers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArmorPiercingResponse

Media sources: