Posted in Leadership

Democracy - It's Not Always Right! - By L. Burke Files

President of Financial Examinations & Evaluations, Inc.


Yep - I said it.  Democracy is not always right.  The will of the majority is not always right.  Some argue that the majority is, at best, misinformed. And since they are subject to the will of the misinformed majority, it is foolishness.  As most people vote in a way that looks out after their selfish short term interests - we can be clear that democracy does not look after the interests of the whole, just the majority. When the majority chooses to vote cookies for everyone, and cookies don’t come fast enough to please them, they will vote again on limiting the power of the governing body to further elevate the majority’s self-interest and against the cookie delivery procrastinators.  It is a vicious circle.


In private enterprise, I ran a group that was assigned a difficult project, a project that was fraught with challenges - technical, procedural and logistical.  If the group had had it’s own way, they would have spent millions of dollars, and I mean millions of dollars, studying the problem from every angle only to come down to the answer of.... we need more studies.  It was a project they did not want to do, because they did not posses the vision of what the project could be and how to arrive at an action plan to succeed with the project.  In short they wanted to study the problems of the project so they never had to make a choice and possibly be seen as wrong. This is an example of where a leader must stand up and give orders for people to take on certain tasks and responsibilities and to complete them.  This is what a leader must do.  With a bit of support and encouragement these people shined and did things they never thought they could do.  Success begetted success and the project was so successful that the project seemed to be over before it started.


Not all input is equal and not all input possesses value.  The leader must be in a position of power to make discerning choices. Captains of ships do not take a poll from the sailors as to what the day’s duties will be or where the ship is going.  If captains did poll the sailors, where do you think the ship would end up? 


In government, I was surprised at how much the short comings of democracy 


were lost on elected officials, administration and employees.  Everyone was looking at the polls, and I do mean everyone, not just the elected people. This assumption that we are all ruled by consensus is utter nonsense.  The idea that an organization should be held to the whims of the tyranny of the masses, or a committee, explains some of the results we got and continue to get.  Ole Ben Franklin had it right - the flaw of democracy shows itself clearly when there are two wolves and a sheep voting on what they will have for lunch.  A fully democratic structure will collapse under the insatiable wants and appetites of those voting.  Someone has to be around to say no and provide authentic direction.


It reminds me a lot of what my mother used to say, just because everyone in the playground did it - does not make it right!  Embracing our mom’s logic could carry us all a great deal further than some of the fairy tales we have been fed.


But, there is also a time to eat one’s words. There is one place where full input is not only desired but is invited and seriously considered.  That is in the non-profit and charitable sectors.  Why does democracy - one-person one vote work well in a charity?   Think about it, you are directing not what you want but what you give.   Charity is not about you! Charity is about those you are going to help. Democracy works well when one can be convinced that the vote one casts at a meeting or in an election is done so not for oneself, not for one’s vision of themselves, and not for what one wants - but that the vote is cast on how one can continue to give, do good, and make a difference.  


Democracy works when people cast their lots and make their wishes known out of principled actions and deeds not out of purulent self-interest.


It is within the confines of elevating others before oneself where democracy can shine.


Mr. Files is a published author of five books, in particular "Due Diligence for the Financial Professional, 2nd edition 2010" and "Money and Budgets" other writing and material can be found at .  Mr. Files is an international speaker on these topics. 


FE&E, Inc. is an international investigative firm specializing in, fraud prevention, asset recovery, due diligence, anti money laundering and intellectual property. 


As a financial industry insider for over 30 years he is keenly aware of the type, and accuracy of the information required to make decisions. Mr. Files has been the case manager on fraud investigations ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to over 3 billion.   As an international expert on due diligence and Intellectual Property and Critical Information (IPCI) he is regularly sought for those cases that bedevil the desktop practitioners. 


This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit