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Article 21 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states the following:

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Now, assuming this is followed, does this mean that you have democracy? It would seem so as democracy, by definition, means government by the people - especially rule by the majority. There are many quotes from great leaders indicating how terrible democracy is, probably summarized best by Winston Churchill as "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." In fact, the Founding Fathers of the US didn't even setup America as a democracy because they feared the tyranny of the majority.

In a democracy, successfully elected politicians vote for the laws they think are best. There are also many instances where voters get to vote directly on specific laws, typically referred to as ballot initiatives or referendum. There are many arguments against allowing this "direct democracy," such as the majority already delegated that responsibility to a politician and it's up to the politician to express their will, it makes the political process much more inefficient and costly if everyone gets to vote on everything, it's less flexible when changes need to occur, and it's more prone to special interest manipulation. But what else can you do when politicians don't act properly in the name of the people (much less the majority)? Direct democracy also has many benefits, such as allowing the public to enact changes that the elected officials are unwilling or unable to, improving the responsiveness of politicians, and increasing voter turnout (especially considering most people don't vote).

Democracy The God That FailedAcross all political ideologies, those who live in democracies are getting frustrated. Accusations abound that elected representatives aren't doing what they said they would do, that special interests have taken precedence over the rights of the people, that voting doesn't make a difference anymore, that elections are rigged, that the rich are getting richer while the middle-class become poor and the poor get poorer, that there's no real difference between left and right political parties, that civil rights are being trampled in increasing numbers, that economies are faltering, and that government continues to get more powerful. So what can be done? Is democracy as a political institution failing? Do you think democracy is providing you, personally, the benefits that you seek? What benefits are you getting from democracy? What are the problems with democracy, and how can they be corrected? Is it ever possible for the voters to control their political leaders by voting? Is there a better political structure than democracy?


No institution of modern life commands as much veneration as democracy. It comes closer than anything else to being the supreme object of adoration in a global religion. Anyone who denies its righteousness and desirability soon finds himself a pariah. One may get away with denouncing motherhood and apple pie, but not with speaking ill of democracy, which is now the principal icon of political and social life throughout the world. Many people are atheists, but few are antidemocrats.

Worship of this particular political arrangement has emerged relatively recently, however, and in earlier ages political philosophers were more apt to condemn democracy than to praise it. Aristotle, whose views received great weight for millennia, did not recommend democracy highly...

The founders of the United States of America had mixed views about democracy. Nearly all of them seem to have feared it more than they respected it. They recognized that concessions to fairly wide participation in politics might have to be made to placate the masses - who, after all, had served as cannon fodder in the recently concluded war of secession from the British Empire - but they designed a system in which voting would be hobbled and circumscribed, so that the common people would be kept from giving direct vent to their passions by seizing control of the government and using it to plunder the rich. The founders conspicuously feared "mob rule" and associated it with untrammeled democracy. All of the newly independent states required property-holding and other qualifications for voting, and, in practice, the franchise was limited in most places to a small minority of the population - a subset of the adult, white males. The Constitution of the United States does not contain the word democracy, although it stipulates certain protocols for the election of officials, and it relies instead on federalism and the separation of powers to preserve liberty...

Democracy has always had its critics. No one claims that it is a perfect system for choosing political leaders or for putting in place the policies and laws the public prefers. Obviously, when individual preferences differ, no one political outcome can please everybody, and the "tyranny of the majority" stands as a constant menace to the lives, liberties, and property of unpopular minorities. Yet, most people continue to insist that democracy, with all its faults, offers the best institutional arrangement for making rulers accountable to the people. So long as elections continue to be held, the possibility always remains of "throwing the rascals out."

What has not been widely recognized, however, is the problem of faits accomplis. Once elected rulers have taken office, the democratic system provides little or no effective means for the people to bring them to heel short of the next election. The great problem is that, by that time, it may be impossible to reverse the outcomes the rulers have brought about.

Democracy and Faits Accomplis


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Mar 9, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=495

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