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The term democracy is derived from two Greek words: demos that means people and kratas that means rule or power. In fact, democracy is a form of government, where political decisions are directly transferred in the hands of the citizens. Such a form of governance is characterized by the fact that people have the power to rule either directly or indirectly through representatives. Under democracy the power of rule is in the hand of majority, but they are also expected to respect the rights of minority. One of the greatest American Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, is best remembered for his classic definition of democracy as a government of people, for the people and by the people. Such a definition means that people should be able to determine how affairs are run within the country. The thesis of the current essay is that democracy is significant in giving power to people, while also exhibiting problems in terms of promoting dictatorship of the majority.
Brief Overview of Democracy
Actually, there are three aspects of democracy: political, economic, and social. The political aspect states that the consent of the governed (expressed directly or indirectly through their elected representatives) must be sought when making political decisions (Halperin, Siegle and Weinstein 26). The Social aspect states that human dignity must be valued at all times. Every individual should be free to organize his/ her own lifestyle, hold and express opinions, enjoy company of others and join associations. In terms of economic aspect, all citizens must have equal opportunities. Exploitation of humans by fellow humans should be eliminated. Moreover, the means of production should be nationalized to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor (Morrell 34). From this point of view, democracy is subdivided into direct democracy, indirect democracy, and constitutional democracy.
Significance for Democratic Stability
Democratic stability fosters economic growth. Democratic governments are free and hence they are economically dynamic. Economic democracy implies the decentralization of economic power in order for individuals and communities to be economically empowered. Moreover, democracy empowers people with the means of creating and controlling their own wealth. Hence, democratic stability fosters economic development through economic democracy. In fact, stability effectively provides ground for freedom of speech, which is crucial for solving conflicting ideas within economic systems (Archibugi, Koenig-Archibugi and Marchetti 65). Notably, democratic governments allow citizens to express their views on conflicting ideas that provides focus on the bigger picture of development. The freedom of speech that provides the expression of varying ideas makes political leaders in the democratic regimes able to impose policies that are widely acceptable by the people. Freedom of speech also helps democratic governments to avoid serious economic problems because of the high level of integration that exists among citizens.
Additionally, democracy is founded on the concept of people and, therefore, democratic stability ensures that leaders do not ignore the people who provide them with authority to rule. Democratic stability ensures that the elected leaders are wise, capable, enlightened, and morally upright so that they cannot be manipulated. In fact, stability plays crucial role in controlling the abuse of power by leaders due to the power held by citizens through their votes. Thus, it provides ground for regular free and fair elections where people are regularly involved to choose the person to represent them in the government; this means that leaders who misuse their power are always likely to be voted out (Halperin, Siegle and Weinstein 53). Democratic stability provides the country with the best position to move forward in terms of development because leaders are highly accountable to the electorate.
It is worth noting that democratic stability also ensures equality among all the people, as it prevents potential discrimination. Good thing about democratic stability is the fact that it advocates equality before the law and, thus, anyone can rise to power regardless of the background or environment. Moreover, democracy is against the aristocratic principle that states that some people are born to govern and other people are born to be governed. Instead, democracy advocates equality and states that all individuals are born and treated equally without discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender, sex, or religion (Archibugi, Koenig-Archibugi and Marchetti 78). Every person has the opportunity to express his/her views and to contest for any elective post regardless of his/her color or sexual orientation.
Democratic stability promotes patriotism and the element of nationality as it urges people to participate in governance. The citizens feel that they are an integral part of the government and hence the welfare of their government is their own welfare. Thus, they always seek to defend their own state and work hard for its wellbeing. Such a fact minimizes chances of revolution and fosters patriotism in a nation (Morrell 93). Liberty and peace are easily attained as democratic stability advocates peaceful coexistence. People develop a sense of cooperation and understanding of their own patriotic responsibility toward the country, as they are not treated as servants but owners of the country.
Democratic stability can also promote international cooperation when extended beyond the borders. Countries with democratic stability are less likely to find hostility in countries with similar policy and doctrines of governance. Democratic stability makes it easier to relate with other countries with similar ideologies hence fostering multilateral and bilateral agreements that represent the basis of continuous growth within the country. Moreover, nations with democratic stability usually possess large public wealth and hence promote peace in other countries (Archibugi, Koenig-Archibugi and Marchetti 45). Apart from this, such nations foster peace through the establishment of diplomatic institutions aimed at helping in resolution of international tensions.
Since democracy is based on moral and educative values, the stability it brings helps individuals to develop their personality. Basically, stability within a democratic state develops the initiative of the people and their sense of responsibility because democracy presumes that people possess certain degree of intelligence, honesty and self-discipline. Democratic stability brings the liberty of the individual and the power of the state in balance (Halperin, Siegle and Weinstein 71). The power of state and the governed are balanced whereby citizens should obey the law without the feeling that their liberty is curtailed. Democratic state makes law based on the consent of the people and the people willingly obey the laws.
Moreover, democratic stability promotes transparency in the nation. Citizens are informed about everything that happens in their government through various means such as public meetings where citizens participate freely. Moreover, democratic stability ensures that the principle of the rule of law is respected. So, all the citizens must adhere to the established system of law. Political stability also provides ground for political tolerance. In fact, divergent views expressed by different people are considered when making important decisions. In some democratic countries, referendums are conducted in order to seek the political or public opinion of the people that promotes political tolerance (Halperin, Siegle and Weinstein 51). Furthermore, democratic stability fosters accountable and open mass media. It is essential that people know those behind mass media and their agenda. Media is held accountable to the public, thus, media cannot provide inaccurate information.
Democratic stability fosters efficiency of the government. Democracy serves as a very effective form of educating the public about their political, economic and social affairs. Democratic stability also enables the execution of peaceful changes. Thus, the government has to consult the public before making any changes. Moreover, democratic governments have basic procedures, rules and regulations that ought to be followed before making any change. A good example is the procedures that must be followed when making constitutional amendment (Dautrich and Yalof 82). Such requirements help in the elimination of unlawful changes.
Problematics of Democracy
Democracy is problematic in the sense that it promotes dictatorship of the majority. The majority pledges to please the supporting electorate during the elections and, thus, neglects the political, social, and economic interests of the minority who do not vote for it. The minorities are often dominated as they lack the voice to express their own views in the government that is held by the majority of representatives (Reiter and Stam 29). In fact, the government has an obligation to fulfill its election pledges to please the supporting electorate. As a result of dominance, democracy perpetrates class struggle and corruption because only people with sufficient financial resources and public influence can engage in intensive campaigns and get elected. Once elected, they pass the laws aimed at protection of their interests.
Democratic governance is usually slow and wasteful since consultations must be made when making a decision. Time and public resources are used in the process of seeking the opinions of the majority. The challenge of making decisions means that the government is always delayed in terms of making the decision that would represent the best interests of people. For instance, in highly democratic United States of America significant decisions such as the Health Bill have to be extensively discussed and voted in the Congress before the president can assent to them (Dautrich and Yalof 70). Slow and wasteful nature of democracy is the reason behind slow growth and progress in the realization of the national goals. The need to ensure that every protocol is observed delays the whole process of decision-making and might lead to the loss of opportunities for the government.
Democracy also increases the gap between the rich and the poor. The rich, especially those with the power, continue to get richer while the poor get poorer. The reason for such a situation is the fact that a few elected leaders use manpower and resources for their goal of getting richer at the expense of common citizen. Democracy seems to provide the ground for the majority to set laws in order to protect their own interests rather than protecting the rights of the poorer citizens within the country. For instance, it is easier for politicians to use their power to pass tax laws that favor the rich but hurt the poorest individuals in the society because of the limitation of resource redistribution (Reiter and Stam 88). Under democratic understandings, the majority also passes some special bills for their rich sponsors hence overlooking the interests of the poor who continue languishing in poverty without access to quality food, healthcare, and shelter.
Moreover, democracy is problematic because it is not valuable to ignorant society. Democracy can be problematic to an illiterate society. In case people are not able to read the rights the constitution provides them with, they cannot clearly articulate their rights. Moreover, the government can impose wrong policies on the citizens if they are ignorant about the process how policies are formulated and imposed (Morrell 63). People in leadership positions can constantly violate the rights and freedom of an illiterate society. Democracy provides ground for formation of political parties and systems of alliances that give false promises to the citizens. Political leaders use political parties to present their manifestos to the electorates. In the majority of cases, they exaggerate the instances of distorted information regarding certain issues. Usually the false promises of candidates are motivated by negative emotions towards their opponents hence they do not offer sincere promises.
Moreover, democracy is characterized by the tendency to manipulate mass media within the country. In fact, people in power have the tendency to use mass media as dictatorial tool. In such a way, mass media provides wrong information to the public. Usually mass media provides information that the government wants the citizens to know. Mass media is also used to spread propaganda related to the opposition (Archibugi, Koenig-Archibugi and Marchetti 59). The media promotes propaganda as it tries to balance opinions from the government and the opposition. Thus, media is manipulated to offer wrong information to citizens. This situation leaves citizens confused about the truthfulness of the information and the party they are supposed to believe in terms of making their democratic decisions within the country. Such manipulation limits the effectiveness of mass media in terms of objectively communicating truth to citizens, as media looks forward to impressing both the government and the opposition.
Moreover, democracy does not respond to current issues such as globalization and advancements in technology. The majority of democratic states does not know how to apply globalization to democracy. Moreover, the changes brought by technology do not provide ways of fostering democracy. The difficulty for democratic regimes was to embrace the numerous changes of globalization and technological advancements to democracy (Archibugi, Koenig-Archibugi and Marchetti 73). The majority of developing countries with democratic governments stick to their old ways of implementing policies without paying attention to emerging and contemporary issues such as globalization and technological advancements.
Lastly, democracy seems to encourage racism and even ethnicity within the country. For example, during the electioneering period political parties and politicians engage in campaigns that have racial and ethnic inclinations. Some political parties are even formed on tribal and racial grounds (Reiter and Stam 80). A good example is current campaign in the United States where Donald Trump talked negatively about other races such as Mexicans and Afro-Americans. The negative statements of Trump are left unpunished because every candidate has the right to talk to citizens in the way they wish. Moreover, the majority African countries, which are utilizing democracy as their systems of governance, have witnessed post-election violence based on tribal differences. Some specific examples of these countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan, and even Burundi. The racial and ethnic hatred promoted by democracy is not beneficial for a country because it undermines the coexistence of individuals.
In conclusion, democracy refers to the rule of the people, for the people and by the people. Direct democracy is the type of democracy where people are directly involved in decision-making. Indirect democracy involves citizens in exercising their rights in the decision-making indirectly through the elected representatives. Constitutional democracy involves respect of the rights and power of the majority in decision-making within the provisions of the constitution. The best thing about democracy is the fact that it provides all the citizens with the opportunity to be represented through free and fair elections where they have an opportunity to select leaders without any force applied to them. Nevertheless, democracy is highly problematic in terms of promoting the dictatorship of the majority who make all policies and implement them for their own benefit.