Political leadership is one of the modern world’s most hotly contested topics, as it has been for much of human history. In the modern world, democracy certainly has seemed to trumped all other forms of government, with its prevalence across both the New World and the Old. Such continuity across so many different countries certainly seems to indicate democracy is doing something right. However, according to international economist and political writer Dambisa Moyo, only nineteen percent of Americans today say they can trust their government to do what’s right (Why Democracy Doesn’t Deliver). Democracy has shown its cracks and failings in the past, and discussions over alternate political leadership schemes have been a notable part of political discussion and theorization. Although most individuals tout the supremacy of modern democratic forms of government, despite its scarcity and stigma dictatorship is a superior form of government compared to democracy.
First and foremost among the benefits of dictatorship is the efficiency and speed of a government system modeled in such a manner. Dictatorship can move faster than democracy in a multitude of areas, such as passing laws, reacting to national emergencies, and effecting large-scale change and reform. According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, the British Parliament takes 153 days on average to pass a bill (How long does it take to pass and enact Bills?). While half a year is an acceptable amount of time to pass a law, it is likely extended by needless debate as factions argue over minutiae that delay a vital law from being passed. The debate surrounding new laws and policies can reach incredible lengths. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, it took a full day for the US to declare war, and the vote wasn’t even unanimous (Pearl Harbor Attack). Such actions done by democratic nations shows how even in times of crisis, democracy often responds less forcefully than is truly appropriate in a situation. Besides unnecessary debate, dictatorships are also more efficient in that there is often less “red tape” and bureaucracy obstructing the implementation and efforts of vital government institutions. Case in point, China and India both needed roads to increase productivity and connect areas of their countries. India, a democratic country, found its efforts bogged down by red tape and politics, and as a result never finished. On the other hand, China, with its firm leadership, got roads built. To reinforce this, “In the 2016-2017 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, India was ranked 68th of 138 countries for overall infrastructure, well behind China, which was ranked 42nd.” (Why Democracy Doesn’t Deliver). Because of the quick political maneuvering of dictatorships, certain projects are completed much more efficiently and quickly. In a political article on the pros and cons of dictatorship it is noted that, “Since [dictatorships] can calibrate the legal framework and do not need coalition to implement laws and come up with decisions, matters will be dealt with the soonest time possible,” (List of 7 Main Pros and Cons of Dictatorships). Another article adds on to the same claim by pointing out that, “Since the leaded or ruling party has absolute powers, they can take quick and prompt actions,” (Advantages and Disadvantages of Dictatorship or Totalitarianism). Both these articles articulate clearly how dictatorships can avoid political finangling to get things done faster and more efficiently. Furthermore, dictatorships are more efficient because democracies often end up chasing their own tails. In Alan Brinkley’s American History, on page 170 the textbook details the creation of the American national bank under the Federalist party, specifically by the encouragement of Alexander Hamilton. However, the election of Jackson in 1828 and his corresponding “bank war” (242) caused an institution that supported the economic development that undoubtedly helped countless individuals and businesses to be cut up and destroyed. Such political infighting and recursion on legal policies due to democratic processes is inefficient to the ridiculous at times. The political tensions can lead to ridiculous levels, such as the 2016 election, fought with accusations and blustering instead of rational policy. All in all, dictatorships are much more efficient in various regards in comparison to democracies.
Besides efficiency, dictatorships are also much more farsighted and forward-thinking than democracies. It can already be seen from Hamilton and Jackson (Brinkley) that democracies often are worse at long-term planning and policymaking. Modern evidence and basic logic further reinforces this claim. According to Moyo, “A 2017 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the country a grade of D+ for overall infrastructure, citing 2,170 high-hazard dams, 56,007 structurally deficient bridges (9.1 percent of the nation’s total), and $1 trillion in needed upgrades to drinking water systems over the next 25 years.” Moyo goes on to point out that because politicians in a democracy are always looking to be voted back into office, they go for short term sweeteners in order to satisfy voters. By doing so, they neglect long-term problems and leave massive issues untouched, such as the aforementioned infrastructure along with issues such as climate change in which the effects are slow and steady (Why Democracy). As an online article on dictatorship notes, “In democratic governments, however, elections are held regularly. This can result to[sic] shaky governments since there will be new leaders after several years,” (List). Democracies lack the forward planning that a more stable government system such as a dictatorship has to bring, and thus lose out in comparison with a dictatorship.
Along with the straight-out benefits of dictatorial leadership, democracy is expensive due to the constant debates and lobbying occurring in an attempt to sway legal proceedings one way or the other. OpenSecrets, an independent observer, accumulated an account of lobbying spending in 2019:
As one can see, exorbitant sums are spent to push political decisions one way or another in a democracy based on the interests of multiple private groups. While the costs of such campaigning aren’t directly taken out of the taxpayer’s pocket, such an expenditure would be utterly unnecessary in a dictatorship, saving millions if not billions of dollars. A rather more potent demonstration is the total expenditure on the presidential elections. In a Washington Post article, journalist Christopher Ingraham writes, “[The total cost of the 2016 election campaign was]: $6.5 billion for the presidential and congressional elections combined… It’s actually down, slightly, in inflation-adjusted terms from 2012 and 2008… With that much money you could fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for 15 years, fix the Flint, Mich., lead pipe problem 30 times over or give every public school teacher a $2,000 raise.” Add onto the fact that “… most of us were ‘disgusted’ by [the election] well before it was over,” and the reality of how much money is spent on slanders and popularity contests is truly mind-boggling. The 2016 election, while expensive and a mediafest, was actually less expensive than previous years (accounting for inflation) according to Ingraham. In an Investopedia article, the full picture of campaign spending becomes horrifyingly clear. According to the website, “Nearly every presidential election costs more than the ones before it, but the spending pace has been especially ferocious in the 21st century. Between 2000 and 2012, the amount spent by the winning candidate’s campaign nearly quadrupled, and Political Action Committee (PAC) spending has similarly exploded. National party spending has increased more reasonably, though the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) still spend much more to elect candidates than they did even 15 years ago,” (How Much Does it Cost to Become President?). Such staggering sums spent on political campaigning would not be wasted in a dictatorship, where trying to garner votes in such a wasteful manner would not be beneficial to either the candidates or the people, as voting is no longer a part of the political process.
Most importantly, dictatorships can work in the future because they’ve worked in the past. History is littered with the accomplishments of dictatorial governments, which have existed long before democracies. Famous philosophers such as Hobbes and Plato have all argued for a dictatorship as the only ideal government. Plato’s book on government, dubbed The Republic, laid out a government under a wise and good dictator, and stated, “Until philosophers are kings….cities will never have rest from their evils,” (What Happens When a Philosopher Becomes a King?). Hobbes, after analyzing the social contract and imbibing all of the knowledge of the Enlightenment, declared that people should submit themselves to an absolute ruler, and responded brilliantly to criticisms of his paper Leviathan (Hobbes’s Moral and Political Philosophy). Besides the logical reasoning of such notable thinkers as these, historical examples of the greatest dictatorships would not be complete without pointing at that giant of the Classical antiquity the Roman empire. The Roman empire spanned the Mediterranean, stretching from Portugal in the west to Iran in the east, and was notable for its public works programs and fantastic architecture. In his work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, a member of the British parliament (and thus a firsthand participant in democracy) declared, “If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus” (What Happens). Other emperors, such as Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome and son of Julius Caesar, would fund incredible entertainments for the populace, and during times of hardship such as several famines would often give out grain for free. Other, less successful and rather more oppressive dictatorships such as those of the mid 20th century were not without their notable accomplishments as well. According to C. N. Trueman, in Nazi Germany “…unemployment had fallen from 6 million in 1933 to 300,000 by 1939 and industrial production in 1939 was above the figure for Weimar Germany before the 1929 Wall Street Crash,” (The Nazis and the German Economy). A history broadcast by ABC on the America depression echoed the statement, saying, “By 1937, the Depression in Germany was over… ‘Unemployed people practically disappeared overnight… people had jobs, were happy,’” (Stormy Weather). Even the Nazis, with their horrible atrocities, racial bigotism, and fanatic leadership, did some things better than the other democratic countries of the world. Finally, even so-called democracies have their periods of rather undemocratic processes. Executive orders, or policies ordered by the president and no one else, are similar to the declarations and policy-making process of dictators, and are frequently used by almost all presidents. According to the National Constitution Center, several of America’s most notable presidents have made liberal use of executive orders, including Abraham Lincoln who used them to suspend the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War, and Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, who used the most executive orders in American history to combat the effects of the Great Depression.
There is, in response to all these advantages dictatorship has over democracy, the obvious argument that dictatorship deprives citizens of essential rights to a say in government. The very definition of dictatorship is, “[a] form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations,” (Dictatorship). To US citizens, a group used to a long history of democracy and a central protection of it as the central fixture of American government, such an alternative is obviously horrifying and monstrous. However, ultimately the right to vote in today’s society is both unvalued and not worth the benefits of dictatorship. It is commonly established that certain rights must be curtailed for public benefit. Tom Mockaitis of Huffpost notes that, “Collective security requires compromising some individual freedoms. Everyone acknowledges that no person has the right to yell ‘fire” in a crowded theater, but some countries take restrictions on speech and expression much further,” (Security vs. Civil Liberties). Examples of compromises of individual freedoms for the greater good include search warrants and wiretapping, which are often restricted in today’s society, often to the detriment of the public. There are other times in American history where the public good has come before individual rights. In the late 1900s, strikes such as the Pullman and Homestead strikes in America threatened to paralyze the industrializing nation, and were put down with government force (Brinkley 481-483). The benefits of dictatorship for the public good far outweigh the right any one individual has to defy it. Besides, today’s voter population is smaller than it ever has been before. A statistical analysis of the voting population since 1908 concluded that, “Despite widespread societal and economic changes voter turnout has generally fluctuated between 50 and 60 percent. Turnouts above 60 percent are rare and have not been witnessed since the middle of the 20th Century when American voter turnout was comparably higher,” (Voter turnout in U.S. presidential elections since 1908). This means that only half of today’s voting adults are actually voting. Recent elections, including the Trump-Hillary campaigns, have been decided by “fewer than 80,000 votes across three states,” with only about “6 in 10 eligible voters cast ballots in 2016,” (On The Sidelines Of Democracy: Exploring Why So Many Americans Don’t Vote). In conclusion, with both numerous advantages of dictatorship over democracy along with the reduction in voluntarily voting individuals, dictatorship seems worth the loss of the right to vote.
While such a radical change in political philosophy and structure across the world is likely impossible to implement, the facts are rather stark and contrary to contemporary teachings. Dictatorship possesses a multitude of benefits of democracy, and can be rather safely considered the superior government structure. The United States today is a superpower under its democratic leadership, but it could be much improved if the government structure was one of those described by Hobbes and Plato, likely resulting in improved productivity and global power. Although this is likely an unpopular conclusion, the interpretation of this comparison of government structures indicates it is time for a change.