Democracy is one way in which the people rule. This essay will examine how the people rule through democratic means. We will also examine the USA as one democratic country and how the people rule through their leaders.
How the people rule
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A great quote from one of the greatest American president is that of Abraham Lincoln, "Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people." His observation on the nature of democracy was surely accurate. He observed that democracy is a structure of social politics that has been proven truly effective which is basically a government by a popular will of the people. Democracy has existed, despite in several forms, as long as humanity.
Democracy is the most common form of government in the world today. Democracy comes from two Greek words; demos for "people" and cracy for "rule of" and therefore democracy is said to be a system in which there is "the rule of the people". In the US, democracy is translated by Abraham Lincoln words, "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." (Lansford T. pg.9). This concept of democracy means that the ultimate authority over the government policies and decisions rests with the people.
The rule of the people emerged as a political system in response to increased demand from the ordinary citizens to have a voice in government. The principle purpose for democracy is to overcome such systems as tyranny. Democracy ensures that the ordinary people have ultimate political authority and there is dispersion of power to prevent rise of political dictatorship democracy allows people to voice their frustrations through a regulated system so that the government can address these frustrations. Therefore, democracy is perceived as the best way to ensure equality and liberty to all people in the society. (Lansford T.2007, Pg.9). Clearly in this regulated system where the people can voice their anger and frustrations to how things they don't like are done in the government will ultimately change the government stand, and in doing so the people have ruled through their representatives.
There are two types of democracy; direct democracy and representative democracy. A direct democracy is one in which all citizens of a political organization make joint decisions. An example of this was the one in Athens. The disadvantage with this kind of democracy is that it cannot work with countries with large populations like the one in India which has a population of more than 1 billion. The main advantsage with direct democracy is that all the citizens feel that they are part of the government. (Lansford T. 2007, Pg.12)
The other type of democracy is representative democracy. This is the most common and it involves a system where the people pick representatives to represent their interests and make decisions on their behalf. This is done by elections whereby candidates square it out through regular elections where candidates seek executive or legislative office. Its drawbacks however is that it requires the participation of all its citizens although to a lesser degree. The other problem is that if people feel that frustrated and that their views do not count, they will leave voting. An example is the US where in the past less than half of the registered voters exercise their democratic rights. These people will less likely pay any attention to the goings of their representatives. Another problem concerns the elected representatives who may be fondled by the trappings of power and disengage themselves from the people and be influenced by other interest groups ( Lansford T. 2007 Pg.17). In this way they will not be representing the people who elected them to parliament.
Due to the above problems, some pundits argue that democracy has been altered; it is not the people's rule but the people's judgment. The argument goes that the rule of people without judgment by the people is not democracy. An example can be given that of Hitler. He come to power on a democratic majority vote. But then the German democracy was ended immediately the Reichstag was closed down. His regime became the rule of the law. According to the cotemporary philosopher, Karl Cooper, children should not be thought about popular rule, that is the rule of the people which is not true as the will feel let down once they become aware that democracy is not about people's rule. This is because people who elect the government do not make such decisions as those concerning complex issues like nuclear policies and long-term space projects (Democracy is Not People's Rule, It is People's Judgment)
An example of a democratic republic
Although the world has more than 200 nations with some form of government, the question for every nation is who controls the government. The answer can be; a group, one person, a monarch, a dictator or no one. A country can be controlled by totalitarian regime. This is where a group of small leaders or an individual controls everything and the power of the ruler is total, this is better known as dictatorial. Another system is authoritarian where the government is fully controlled by the ruler but social amenities are not. Oligarchy is a Greek term meaning rule by small corrupt and self-serving purposes. All these type of governments are not democratic simply because the people are not given the voice and choice on how things are run in their country. (Schmidt, S.W., Shelley, M.C. and Bardes, B.A. 2008, Pg8).
The Greek term for rule by the people is democracy. In its simplest form, democracy means that the authority of the ruling government is granted to them by the people as a whole. The system of government was first practiced in Greek state of Athens and which is considered the first pure model of direct democracy. This was because the citizens of Athens debated and voted on all laws. The legislature was composed of all the citizens. Direct democracy has since been practiced in the United States, Switzerland and New England meetings. In our example on how people rule, we will examine democracy in the United States of America.
The people who framed the US constitution chose to craft a republic which means that a government in which the sovereign power is rested with the people rather than a king or a monarch. Therefore the US is said to be a republic that is based on popular sovereignty. Here, the idea of a republic also means that the government is to be based on popular beliefs and virtues that are to be fostered on all communities (Schmidt, S.W., Shelley, M.C. and Bardes, B.A. 2008, Pg.10).
In drafting the US constitution, a form of republican government was created otherwise now called a democratic republic. This form of government is where the people hold the power over the government through the election process although all the policy decisions are made by the officials. The constitution crafters thought that the distance between the people and the government was not enough and as such, they ensured that the senate and the president were elected directly. This was a reverse from an earlier rule that allowed the senate and the president to be elected by the political elite rather than the people. The American system is unique in the amount of power it grants to its ordinary citizens. This has spread increasingly first, first to the West and then throughout the world. Democracy and its democratic principles have given rise to a new form of government known as representative democracy. Schmidt, S.W., Shelley, M.C. and Bardes, B.A. 2008, Pg.11)
Principles of democracy in America
The principle of democracy is that all the representatives' democracies on the rule of the people as expressed is through a democratic election of government officials. The US in the 1970s, only white males were allowed to vote. Women did not have the rights to vote until 1920 and for the African-Americans, they secured the right to vote in major of the US states by 1960s. But today, the rule is that of universal suffrage. Due to the fact that different people have different opinions the people's decisions are in form of a majority rule and thus this ensures that everybody's vote counts. Again there are principles that ensure that the majority rule does not become oppressive hence modern democracies like those of the US guarantee minority rights. This is to ensure that the majority does not violate the fundamental rights of certain members like the racial minorities. To ensure that there is guaranteed and continued existence of democracy, there must be free and fair elections after every certain specified period of time. This thus ensures that opposition parties have a chance to win elective posts to office. (Schmidt, S.W., Shelley, M.C. and Bardes, B.A. 2008, Pg.11)
The American government ensures that the people rule un-impeded. Here, there is no need for neither fear, danger nor avenge any insult. This is a country where democracy is left to its own propensities. It is in a way such that its manner is natural and its movement free. On the issue of suffrage, one sees its work in communities which occupy different places of the social scale.
The essay has dealt with how people rule. We have seen two types of democracies and their draw backs. We have also examined hoe the American type of democracy works and how through such kind of democracy the ordinary people rule.
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