Simone Weil once said the difference between slaves and citizens is that slaves are subject to their masters and citizens to the laws. Those who choose between masters are still slaves. Even if leaders are perfect, wise and just, we lose our freedom when we surrender responsibility to them.
We must regain a faith that people can govern themselves. We are not merely herd animals in want of a good shepherd. Sheep cannot choose their own shepherd. If they knew what was good for them, they would not need a leader in the first place. If average people do not have the qualities to govern themselves, how are they to recognize those qualities in another? If average people have those qualities, then they do not need to be led.
In a democracy, good leadership blends into the background. Such leaders are stable and often boring. The leadership qualities people usually look for in an election are martial, that is, military. Then, we are surprised time after time when such leaders lead us to war. The better a leader is at marshalling hierarchical power, the fewer freedoms will be available to the people.
Whether we are liberal or conservative we all must learn to live by the principles we espouse. If we do not take responsibility for our own governance, the words “democracy” and “freedom” will just be pretty flowers we place upon our chains.