Democracy embodies a natural human desire for self governance, where the will of the people direct and control the actions of the government. This is an ideal that is difficult to implement for the maximum benefit. The challenge in democracy is balancing of desires and priorities for the group being governed. I think the key ingredient for a successful democracy is education. When the general public elects their representatives, they should know the facts of who they are electing and for what purpose, as well as the consequences of their vote.
The founding fathers of the United States of American certainly understood the necessity of public educating and developed educational institutions. But how have we continued that priority? The US general public today is not as well informed of governmental responsibilities and issues compared to the 1770’s. For various reasons, we are more consumed by other activities and spend less time researching politics and our government’s actions. Could this be one cause for the expanding wage gap between the wealthy and the poor? Could this also contribute to increasing dissatisfaction for the political system? Are we resolved to cyclically vote in the opposing party and reject that party when they do not conform to our ideals, instead of learning how to influence our elected officials to bring about the desired changes. I think part of the problem is that our society is so undereducated about politics that we cannot effectively participate in the conversation. Journalists perform the role of the people’s voice, guessing at various ideas of the people’s complaints and wishes without really understanding what is desired. Today’s society has changed dramatically since the time of our founding fathers, and our culture must adapt to the current social and political challenges. Just as we need to simplify the tax code and the health care system to meet our priorities and expectations, we must re-evaluate each segment of government to update the system for modern times.
I believe in the ideal of democracy and hope that all nations can benefit from its strengths. Each form of government has it’s own strengths and characteristics. One of the strengths of democracy is the promotion of Human Rights within the culture. Maybe this is why so many people believe democracy to be the best system of government and the attraction of middle eastern cultures to governmental reform. This week/month we’re witness history in the making, as democracy spreads across middle eastern countries and the people of those countries gain influence over their government. I hope they are prepared for the responsibility they now face. And I hope we (citizens of the US) are willing to address our shortcomings to improve the state of our Democracy.