Put yourself in this scenario: Someone asks you and seven other people a stupidly simple question, but all of the others give the wrong answer. Do you contradict the majority and answer correctly, or do you say the wrong thing, too, despite everyone else being a dumbass? If you said, "I'd tell the truth and laugh in their faces," you're either in the minority or delusional -- in a series of famous experiments in the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch put people in that exact same situation, and 75 percent of them conformed and gave the blatantly wrong answer at least once. And it's not like they were solving complex arithmetic problems: They just had to look at four lines and tell which ones were the same length. When there wasn't a group of actors being wrong around them, the rate of error was less than 1 percent.
And no, it's not just because everyone was a bunch of mindless conformists in the 1950s -- the experiment has been repeated over and over again with similar results. Here's a version from the '70s, judging from everyone's sideburns:
What does this have to do with democracy? Everything. What we described is democracy in action. In another experiment, those tricky researchers showed groups of participants the same presidential debate, but edited the crowd reactions to make it seem as if the crowd was right behind the candidate or held the candidate in utter disdain. Every time, the duped participants rated the candidates higher on areas such as intelligence, sense of humor, competence, and sincerity when they thought everyone else loved them. You could put a cat on a podium, and, if you edit the audience reactions correctly, someone will go, "Sure, I would vote for that guy."
President Whiskers got elected on his own merits, though.