I wouldn't call it cynical, so much as shallow.
"All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts
pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it
is magnetic to the corruptible." - Frank Herbert
I prefer this version.
"political leaders rarely listen to the people and thus very rarely
act upon the desires of the people"
We have representative democracy, not direct democracy. Brexit is a classic case of how direct democracy allows demagogues to rile people up to vote against their interests. See the history of ancient Athens for more of the problems with direct democracy. In a representative system politicians are meant to serve people's best interests, not their momentary will. The public often don't understand the issues, like say the death penalty: far more expensive than prison, prone to unfixable injustice, and proven an ineffective deterrent - it's a bad idea, and other than Saudi Arabia & Texas nearly everywhere in the world is stopping doing it. But in many places, people would still vote for it (48% in the UK as of 2015, probably enough to get it returned in a referendum).
"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this
world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or
all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of
Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from
time to time." - Winston S Churchill, on 11 November 1947, 2 years after
being voted out of office by a landslide, despite leading to victory
People tend to vote tactically for the least worst candidate. In the USA turnout in 2016 was 55.7%, in 2020 it was 66% - Trump got a LOT of non-voters in 2016 to turn out, against him.
What most citizens want, is to not have to think about governance. They just want things to work, and only pay attention when they don't. For that we need consequences to bribery & fraud, and lying. We need innovations in our systems too: rank-choice voting to allow outsider voices more chance, and Citizen Assemblies where a representative jury of people have to listen to evidence on a political issue then make a decision, like a court case, are good examples of improvements. We can't expect perfect leaders, or a perfect system, it's about avoiding or getting rid of the worst, and reforming to avoid repeating failures.
The Stanford Prison Experiment was bad science, done badly, and completely unravelled when replication was attempted. Well conducted versions, show opposite results. Research generally shows humans are highly altruistic, and seem to have evolved to where we are through the highest degree of eusociality in any animal outside of the social insects. It is our cooperativeness which defines us, & the ability of strangers to work together that we have now, in the last half century, is unprecedented.
The contrasting views of human nature held by Rousseau & Hobbes, are good illustrations of how our formative years shape our views, and that we tend to see others in the way we see ourselves. An optimist tends to be an optimist about human nature. A pessimist & cynic the converse.
'Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man', attributed to J. H. W. Tischbein.