Pillars of Democracy
Democracy depends upon a literate, knowledgeable citizenry whose access to information enables it to participate as fully as possible in the public life of society and to criticise unwise or oppressive government officials or policies.
- Democracy is government in which power and social responsibility are performed by all adult citizens, directly, or driven by their elected representatives. Pillar of democracy is the principles of majority rule and individual rights. Democracies guard against all-powerful central governments and decentralize government to regional and local levels, understanding that all levels of government must be as accessible and responsive to the people as possible.
- Democracies understand that one of their core functions is to protect such basic human rights as freedom of speech and religion practices; the right to equal protection under law defined; and the opportunity to organize and participate fully in the political, economic, and cultural civic life.
- Democracies conduct regular free and fair elections open to citizens of voting age on defined cycle. Citizens in a democracy have not only rights, but also the responsibility to participate in the political electoral system that, results in, protects their rights and freedoms.
- Democratic societies are committed to the values of tolerance, cooperation, and compromise. In a democratic state, Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
Democracies fall into two basic categories, direct and representative.
Direct democracy, citizens, without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions. Such a system is clearly most practical with relatively small numbers of people – in a community organization, tribal council, or the local unit of a labor union, for example – where members can meet in a single room to discuss issues and arrive at decisions by consensus or majority vote.
However, today, as in the past, the most common form of democracy, whether for a town of 50,000 or a nation of 50 million, is representative democracy, in which citizens elect officials to make political decisions, formulate laws, and administer programs for the public good.
Democracies tend to be noisy.
Majority Rule and Minority Rights
All democracies are systems in which citizens freely make political decisions by majority rule. But majority rule, by itself, is not automatically democratic. No one, for example, would call a system fair or just that permitted 51 percent of the population to oppress the remaining 49 percent in the name of the majority. In a democratic society, majority rule must be coupled with guarantees of individual human rights that, in turn, serve to protect the rights of minorities and dissenters – whether ethnic, religious, or simply the losers in political debate.
The rights of minorities do not depend upon the good will of the majority and cannot be eliminated by majority vote. The rights of minorities are protected because democratic laws and institutions protect the rights of all citizens. Minorities need to trust the government to protect their rights and safety. Once this is accomplished, such groups can participate in, and contribute to their country s democratic institutions. The principle of majority rule and minority rights characterizes all modern democracies, no matter how varied in history, culture, population, and economy.
Democratic Freedom Right
Freedom of speech and expression, especially about political and social issues, is the lifeblood of any democracy. Democratic governments do not control the content of most written and verbal speech. Thus democracies are usually filled with many voices expressing different or even contrary ideas and opinions. Democracies tend to be noisy.
Democracy depends upon a literate, knowledgeable citizenry whose access to information enables it to participate as fully as possible in the public life of society and to criticize unwise or oppressive government officials or policies. Citizens and their elected representatives recognize that democracy depends upon the widest possible access to uncensored ideas, data, and opinions. For a free people to govern themselves, they must be free to express themselves – openly, publicly, and repeatedly – in speech and in writing.
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