How Important Is Democracy?

Updated on July 31, 2019
Ewent profile image

Investigative political opinion based on proven facts and research.

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The History of Democracy

In any society, leaders emerge. In order to form a "more perfect union," each leader, along with those he chooses for "guard rails" to ensure safety and protection, set forth rules. Perhaps in Neanderthal caves, this skeletal prototype of democracy may have been the catalyst to other more advancing societies to create what we understand today as "democracy." Even in the small Neanderthalian communities, there may have been a semblance of voting via some ancient ritual for their representative leaders and other tribal dignitaries.

E Democratiam, Veritas (In Democracy, Truth)

To expound on the definition of the word, "democracy," Webster defines it as, a government by the people. Rule of the majority. A government in which "supreme" power is vested in the people and "exercised" by them directly or indirectly through a system of "representation" usually involving periodically free elections.

Like nearly every other political concept and practice of "democracy" is of Greek origin. It had the same meaning to ancient Greeks in their language as its meaning today: "Rule of the People."

This definition is best known in the US when then-President Lincoln in 1863 gave his speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people."

Thus, the equation for democracy includes:

  • The people
  • Government
  • Representation
  • Justice
  • Equality

Ideally, the essence of democracy rests with the fact that people govern themselves as is referenced in Lincolns remarks "of the people, by the people."

Self Government and "Good" Government

In the hope that self-government will result in "good" government, there are choices to be made by the people and those they choose to represent them. Often, this can lead to failure when the choices made fall from the practicable decisions fall from efficient, pro-democratic forms of government.

One such example is the failure of liberal revolution in Germany of 1848. Germans wholeheartedly and without opposition, submitted to Prussian control and leadership under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. In 1933, the Nazi Party and its allied militaristic and nationalistic parties won the people by popular majority.

It is important to note that democracy is most often opposed by aristocrats and middle class governments citing rounds that mass electorates may vote for tyrants. Examples of this are anti-colonialist movements such as those when Belgium gave the Congo independence in 1960. Chaos and internal strife replaced the formerly smooth operations of the Belgian control.

Even so, the Congolese managed to place the value of self government above the material benefits of colonial imperialism. It may be said the contrast to "self government" is "imperial rule."

Western Concepts of Democracy

Western concepts of democracy stress proceduralism. The U.S. Constitution is an excellent illustration of the procedural of democracy.

Whereas the Communist concept of democracy stresses the substantive element, in the formerly Communist Germany, for example, the substantive element was what their Communist representatives decided were in the best interests of the people. However, in the Stalinist Marxist view, the Communist concept was that these decisions were in the best interests of "every people."

What resulted in 1917 was that Russian Communism, while succeeding in abolishing capitalism in Russia, created a new problem: a centralized "state" power more overwhelming and oppressive to "every people" under Soviet Communism than it ever was under the autocratic czars.

The Single Most Important Element in the Democratic Way of Life

Fundamentally consisting of the people's confidence in reason and experience, rational empiricism is perhaps the single most significant element in the democratic way of life.

In England, the founder of modern empiricism is John Locke, still considered the most persuasive exponent of political liberalism. There also exists a close connection between empiricism and discussion and consent. This occurs when no representative can possess all of the facts, truths and evidence for dispute.

In the United States, empiricism became a dominant school of philosophy. This philosophy is that "No truth is so certain that it may not be challenged, not even the truth of democracy itself." In theory, there are no taboo issues whose truths are so certain that they must never be discussed. In practice, Western democracies do not always aspire to these philosophical points.

Chief proponents in the U.S. of this philosophy were:

  • John Dewey
  • William James
  • Charles Sanders Pierce

All pragmatic founders of this philosophy. Dewey is most known for founding the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in addition to his other social and progressive contributions that include:

  • The American Philosophical Association
  • The New School for Social Research
  • The American Psychological Association
  • The American Association of University Professors

Justice and Equality

The organizing principles of human rights are justice and equality of all of the people according to the laws that keep order in any society.

There is often confusion about what constitutes justice under the law. The Merriam Webster definition of justice is: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.

In terms of justice under the law, it is important to note that there are four different types of law: criminal, civil, common, and statutory.

Most criminal laws are applied by statute. These would include murder, rape and armed robbery in the U.S. Most criminal laws refer to behavior.

Civil laws also deal with behavior that constitutes injuries to individuals or other private parties such as corporations. It may also include libel, slander, negligence resulting in injury or death, breach of contract, defamation and property damage.

Common law is defined as a body of legal rules made by judges as they issue rulings on cases. For example, a rule a judge made that states people have a duty to read contracts.

Statute law refers to rules and laws made by the legislature or in official statutes. As is seen by these definitions, law cannot be politicized nor biased in order to be free of outside influence and to effect justice and equality. Lawlessness most always excludes justice and equality in order to effect the desire of a select group who desire control.

The Importance of Democracy

Democracy carries with it certain inalienable freedoms and rights. Democracy is the defining factor in human dignity, respect for individual rights under the rule of law, protection of those rights, social unity and a critical framework for guidance for future generations.

Future generations must be exposed to the fundamental purpose of democracy so many are denied in non-democratic societies.

One of the most important contributions that defines why Democracy is so important can be found in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

It is not a coincidence that the early colonists were willing to fight for freedom from the rule of King George.

The following part of the Preamble to the Declaration is equally important to retain in memory:

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

When citizens question the importance of the U.S. Constitution, they are questioning law and order, justice and equality and human and civil rights.

All people have the right to a personal opinion. They do not have the right to turn a personal opinion into a law for all others to obey. This is the point at which the Preamble to the Declaration must be a reminder:

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

In an organized, unified democracy, founded upon justice and equality, it is our right to throw off those who wish to destroy the richness and benefits of democracy.

Questions & Answers

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      • lovemychris profile image

        Leslie McCowen 

        2 weeks ago from Cape Cod, USA

        When you’re on hubpages and become a target of the wingnut club, you tend to get defensive. These creeps will tell you you like killing babies and would enjoy watching your mother die. Accuse you of wanting socialism, communism, and the good old stand by: “you hate America”.

        They take kindness for weakness, and use it against you. Say anything to you as long as it’s personal, and mean.

        When a simple statement such as “ the sky is blue” is met with “you stupid ignorant attention whore! Daughter of Satan, Bielzebub! Any smart person who loves America can see that the sky is pink. God, you are stupid. Just as stupid as that witch Hillary whom you support. Both of you need to move to Cuba with that rapist Bill”.......etc etc etc

        Nary a peep from the mods, who kiss rightwingnuts azzes.

        I don’t know if this is Eleanor’s mindset, but when the brood targets you, you better come with fists swinging.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        2 weeks ago from Beautiful South

        Hi, Randy. I just don't understand her. The comment that riled her up so much was actually aimed at the idiotic comment made by Trump acolyte Wesman Todd Shaw. She claimed that she "knew that" about what I said. If she'd just agreed with me, we both together could have routed Wesman. Oh, well.

      • Randy Godwin profile image

        Randy Godwin 

        2 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

        Hopefully Ewent's success with her books is better than it is on HP, Miz.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        2 weeks ago from Beautiful South

        Eleanore, why are you so full of hate? Go ahead and deny it, but then You will sound like Trump. You almost had me liking you until you went into your tirade at the end. (I've known Bill Clinton since the late 1970s. Hillary is more elusive, she doesn't like reporters.) Your opinion of the DAR sounds like jealousy because you aren't eligible. Let's see, your family is from Italy. Well, Sugar, the LDS genealogy (and the Mormons are very thorough) lists my great grandmother as a descendant of Julius Caesar's cousin, also named Julius, and 23andMe confirms that I have Italian blood (but I'm not sure that I should admit it after meeting you). And yes, I'm still older than you. Bless your heart, got any more nasty words for me.

      • Ewent profile imageAUTHOR

        Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 

        2 weeks ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

        I don't hate REAL southerners. I hate the phonies of which today there are far too many. My ex's grandmother was a sharecropper's daughter born at the end of the Civil War.

        She also disliked phony southerners she referred to as "high noses" with Bibles in their hands, who were most likely to be liars, thieves of the poor and loaded down with what she called "sins."

        My ex's southern relatives were poor but never phonies even though they came from places like Sopchoppy, Carabelle and Telogia FL and Macon GA when those were towns off the beaten paths.

        I have always admired Hillary Clinton. She knew how to rise from her humble beginnings. As for Bill Clinton, although I do not condone his misguided attractions to women, he can't hold a candle to the Maggot in the WH's reputation with women.

        The only reason men like Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Eric "Blackwater" Prince, the now fallen Rev. Ralph Reed, Ken Starr (since become a penitent for his earlier sins to the Clintons) and billionaire Peter W. Smith (who committed suicide in 2017) hated Bill Clinton is because President Clinton was born to a single Mom.

        These are some of the south's worst examples of rich boys with ancestral wealth and Republicanism who spent 4 decades doing all they could to smear the Clintons.

        Sorry "Darlin" but I am very likely much older than you are. That photo of me is from one of my published novels. I don't have a more recent one.

        I was born in 1946,. Do the math sugar pants. As for the DAR, I know that organization to be a bunch of women with noses so high in the air, a rain drizzle would drown them.

        I've been a published novelist of 2 books, have written thousands of technical articles for various online and offline clients and I think you ASSume far too much lil ole gal of the south.

        You can find my novels and other work through Google. One trait of ALL white southern women is to ALWAYS try to look superior.

        I got where I am today because "I" did it by myself. I didn't have a sugar Big Daddy there for me. like you little ole delicate flowers of the south have.

      • Ewent profile imageAUTHOR

        Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 

        2 weeks ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

        Trump always makes comments. Every hour of every day. His is a mouth on steroids.

        We know why Trump supporters will never show face in public and the only ones who do are those pathetic DogPatch US bone idle bums who are too lazy to work.

        When Trump gets over his pathetic need for massive public attention, you see what a dirty rotten low life Bronx dirtbag he has always been.,

        I had no expectations that traitors in this country would EVER want to know what those of us who grew up with Trump in our media have know since he was that Momma's boys. My hope is that Mary Ann Trump who dumped her demon seed on this country is burning in hell.

        She cultivated the low life you see in the WH Today. Trump fools no one, least of all those of us who watched him grow from a rotten child into a manchild who has never grown up.

        He is doing to the world what he always did in his childhood home. Always blaming others for what HE does. Always throws red meat at those in his way to Mommy Mary Ann's favor and has no reservations about insulting the innocent with is childish name calling and his inability to face himself.

        Men and women born with NO souls are always evil. It's why they have NO souls to answer to.

      • lovemychris profile image

        Leslie McCowen 

        2 weeks ago from Cape Cod, USA

        Trump made a comment?

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        2 weeks ago from Kaufman, Texas

        I see a block of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

      • Ewent profile imageAUTHOR

        Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 

        2 weeks ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

        Now get this straight. I am the author of an article I wrote that is based on facts you can find anywhere in the world except in the southern and Midwestern history books that teach that the South won the Civil War and cite the Bible as proof.

        I dare any of you democracy haters to author "YOUR" pathetic versions of history.

        And all Right wing democracy haters show face. I really don't care about any Republican these days. I was one for 33 years. So nothing you post changes your FAKE history to REAL history.

        When right wingers, anarchists and Republicans allow THEIR legislators to block ANY protections for our elections as Moscow Mitch McConnell did this week, you label yourselves what the Founding Fathers would call, TRAITORS.

        As a matter of fact, Jeffie Davis was pardoned for being a traitor. Chew on that for a while.

        Tell me how that Texas Rep,. Goofball Gohmert spending 5 of his alloted minutes to howl like a hungry wolf and attack Mueller makes any Texan look with the whole world watching him act like he was re-enacting Dodge City.

        That ignorant REBELS in this country do not see what they world saw and feel embarrassed only proves how low they are.

        Same for attack dog is true for Ratso Ratcliffe another Texas with that inbred need to attack one of America's finest legal minds he knows he is never going to compete with.

        That all Texas men know how to do? Oh right, I forgot, they also know how to dump the cost of their filthy oil spill cleanups on the rest of the states. So much for BIG RICH TEXAS THAT WHOLE OTHER COUNTRY, right?

        If all Texas Confederates know is swagger, swagger, BOOM BOOM and those delicate flowers of White racist southern womanhood have is KKK ancestors, how beautiful is the south?

        As for FL's Gaetz and Trump lovers, Stoebe and Collins with that drawl so thick he was barely able to be understood. What language was HE speaking?

        "Yessuh, yall alls surely does love playing political bulllies. Too bad your Moscow Mitch is going down faster than the Titanic." Don't wonder why that silly drawling makes drawlers and swaggering fools look so "ignernt."

        Our form of government is a DEMOCRATIC Republic. But boy do you haters hate that word DEMOCRATIC, right?

        Sorry Doris, but I was waiting for a delicate flower of southern womanhhood to be envious of a REAL writer.

        As for you Shaw, Your post is as "ignorant" as you are. Do us all a favor, get off our tax dollars and move to Moscow. If you hate democracy, you'll love the 2,000 protesters Putin had beaten with clubs and forced into silence this week, right BULLY man?

        The names Obama and Clinton and the words "liberal" and "left" really burns a lot of Southern and Midwestern MOOCHER states bacon doesn't it? So when was it CONservatives thought their Bronx NY low life in the WH should be allowed to WASTE $22 million on golf weekends?

        Eleanore from the Most Patriotic and Founding state of NJ. Where you can find ALL of the Revolutionary War historic sites and battlegrounds.

        I am a Yankee Patriot and our history goes back far earlier than any rebel or corn pone state. That is MY right and get in my face about it and you get the tongue lashing you traitors deserve.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 weeks ago from USA

        Reminding us of the language of the Declaration of Independence is important in these troubled times.

      • ValKaras profile image

        Vladimir Karas 

        3 weeks ago from Canada

        Eleanore -- In your admirable and historically supported definitions of democracy and justice, only one important point is missing, which would relate to the current definitions of democracy and justice being applied.

        I am talking about democracy having to fight for its survival within the hierarchy of government -- and justice resembling pretty much the one applied in international political arena, that is, the justice of the stronger.

        In this case, the ruling class, of which the leadership is just an executive puppet. It seems like there is no law in hands of Congress which couldn't be counteracted by a law in hands of Senate and the President. Even the Constitution suddenly became a subject to interpretation, like the Bible with its open for discussion metaphors.

        So, the history is again finding its way of repeating itself, with some fine minds' ideologies of true justice and democracy being ignored in a circus of legal charade.

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