The Ethical Paradox of Democratic Leadership
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Democracy is arguably ethically superior because democratic openness fosters truth-telling as a public value, yet democratic citizens typically distrust their representatives and suspect them of peddling lies or half-truths. This paradox arises because democratic rulers are conceived as servants of a sovereign people who may electorally replace them. Servants must often expediently and hypocritically tell the sovereign what it wants to hear rather than unpalatable truths. Yet popular sovereignty provides a key to distinguishing those lies that democrats will tolerate and those they will not, namely any whose tendency or intention is to usurp the sovereignty of the people.
Taiwan Journal of Democracy
Copyright 2007 Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.