Why do residents in new democracies become disillusioned with democracy, despite significant improvements in the development of liberal-democratic institutions, the extension of political rights and freedoms, and peaceful turnovers of power? This article advances a theory of democratic disillusionment, which is based on the concept of political sting: feelings of betrayal, insult, and disrespect among ordinary citizens stemming from a government’s failure to protect and provide for its population. In new democracies, political sting motivates and propels collective action and provides a basis for future claims for social justice. Building from the redistribution-versus-recognition debate between Nancy Fraser, Axel Honneth, and their critics, this article extends that analysis to include conditions in the political realm—in particular, problems of political accountability. The article illustrates its theoretical claims through references to South Africa’s recent history of democratization.