Democracy: Representation and Civil Rights
Democracy is a system of a government of the people, for the people and by the people. The public elects a few leaders to represent them and make laws and policies in a manner that exhibit political equality. Political equality is the process of equal treatment for all under the rule of law. Therefore, democracy is a matter of ensuring that the people choose the leaders they want and their civil rights are respected. This paper explores the ideology of democracy in terms of public representation and civil rights and freedoms.
Democracy and Freedom: A Balancing Act
In theory, democratic governments are characterized by principles of freedom and equality. The practicability of the two principles manifesting mutually is almost impossible. This is because, when democracies try to achieve political, social, and economic equality, they reduce their institutions’ power and guarantee of being able to protect individual rights. However, when democracy is exercised in regard to public representation and respect of rights and freedoms, equality under the rule of law is achieved.
The Three Arms of Democracy
There are three arms of a democratic government, the executive or the presidency, the legislature, and the judiciary (O'neil 148). Power is shared between the three arms. The head of the executive is the president, who represents the country in international forums and signs bills to law. The judiciary is the arm that conducts checks and balances on the other arms of the government. It clarifies or expounds on the laws and determines whether new laws formed by the legislature are constitutional. On the other hand, the legislature is where laws are made and passed. The president is the one responsible for signing bills into law. This shows how the government is divided to achieve a balance in power.
Exercising Democracy through Voting
Democracy is exercised when people vote (O'neil 159). In most governments, the political party or an individual with a majority of the votes wins. Those elected into the legislature represent the will of the majority, but in a democratic country, power is exercised with respect to human rights. Once in power, the leader is in service to every citizen, regardless of whether they voted or not. A referendum can be conducted to pass laws and policies through a majority vote. For example, if there is a need to change a constitution, a referendum can be conducted. Voting gives the public a platform to express their interests and expectations in a democratic government.
Civil Rights: Safeguarding Individual Freedoms
Civil rights provision in a government protects individual freedoms from infringement by private individuals, the government, or non-governmental social groups (O'neil 168). Everyone is entitled to an opinion and freedom of speech. Civil rights should be enacted and protected by the government as they ensure individuals participate in political life without discrimination or harassment. Democracy is dependent on respectful discussions such as political debates. In these debates, the public gets a chance in policy formulation. Moreover, they are able to assess the performance of the government, the leaders, and politicians. Political parties are mandated to organize the debates and tolerate positive criticism (O'neil 158).
Evidently, democracy is about making sure that the government conducts free and fair elections and protects the rights of its civilians. Although it is argued that the concentration of power to a few elites is a hindrance to political change, democracy is more productive than lawlessness or dictatorship. Conducting elections and referendum, power-sharing, and protection of civil rights is what democracy entails.
O'neil, Patrick H. Essentials of Comparative Politics: Fifth International Student Edition. WW Norton " Company, 2015.