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May 28, 2016: I ran across this forum while looking up neoliberalism (/www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot) because I was trying to get a handle on the meaning of the word/term "democracy", as in . . . what is a democracy. OK. So it's a representative form of government. Is that all? Are there no underlying principles attached to it? "Democracy" is both a simplistic yet overly broad term. Maybe what this nation needs if it is going to remain a democracy is "rules of the road" in addition to the right to vote, which is rapidly eroding. As an ever evolving society it would seem that we need to establish some basic hard and fast rules (always subject to change as we evolve) to maintain our right to call ourselves a democracy. Otherwise we are, as you stated, an elected dictatorship.
From: judith.b.ohrt AT gmail.com.

Mar. 28, 2016: In Canada we are all taught that our electoral system is democratic. During elections we have delegates that represent a number of gangs we call political parties. Now we are presented with the prospect of having one of the delegates (gang members) to represent their gang and not their constituents in parliament. Consequently the successful gang has to win a majority of ridings or constituencies and not the majority of votes to become the ruling gang. The prime minister (or gang leader is not elected), he is selected by the gang members. But there are problems for the gang as well. In order to pass legislation, they need the approval of the senate. The members of the senate are not elected but selected by former gang leaders on the basis of their loyalty to their gang. They rule over the elected gang members similar to kings and queens as they are appointed for life. This system cannot be altered by the people since that would involve another monarchical system called the supreme court. The judges on the supreme court are also appointed by the gang leader, presumably with the co-operation of the other two suspect systems. They are there for life and cannot be removed by the electorate under any circumstances other than perhaps civil war. The supreme court interprets our civil rights legislation that was put together in back room deals by institutions that did not democratically represent the majority of Canadians. Our civil rights bill protects minorities against the majority but there is no protection for the majority. Isn't that interesting? I would speculate that these "rulers" believe that the majority of Canadians are too ignorant to make their own decisions. Judging by the situation we are in, they could be right. That would point directly at our academic system (they belong to gangs called unions) which, typically, mirrors our electoral system. Politics, religion, and culture is nothing more than "brain washing". That is just a more subtle form of water boarding which I was led to believe was illegal.
Enough said.
From: sailxtr500 AT shaw.ca.

Sep. 9, 2015: The law is a complex and flexible thing, the reason why politicians get away with things is because they know the loopholes to use in order for people to go along with what they publicize as fair and democratic including laws that most of us are against, like abortion laws for the under aged. The "system" has created ways in which the public can participate through in law making like the government gazette but the procedure is not transparent, people are not that informed about it and not everyone can be at the legislature for finalization. The remedies are there for us to be more hands on but we do not understand just how it works and when people vote the ratings are not as public as the elections but it should be because the laws are binding to the people that make up the state, the state doesn't make up the people. The old generation is tired, it is our turn to make a change but the question is are we willing, do we have the courage to make that change?
From: cushitepierce07 AT gmail.com.

August 29, 2015: Having a true democracy is difficult because it means people have to be willing to take time out of their everyday, busy lives to stay informed and get involved in decisions about the direction of their country. How many people do you know who are willing to do this? I don't know many. In the U.S., only about 53% of the voting population voted in the 2012 presidential election. And of those, I wonder how many were truly informed about who they voted for? If you don't vote, you can't complain about the outcome.
From: 1healthyogini AT gmail.com.
(mk: Unfortunately, neither I do know many people willing to take time to get involved.)

May 15, 2015: I agree with the article. In the UK we don't live in a Democracy. In two days we have an election which will give whichever party (or Coalition) the power to make laws which the majority of people may not agree with. The majority of people did not agree with the last government introducing the "bedroom tax" and "the increase in student fees", to name just two.
The answer is:
To abandon old-fashioned "Party Politics" completely and have "true representatives" who can be contacted by ordinary people each time there is a proposal for either a new law or a change in an old one. Members of the public could raise issues through "official online groups which are registered and monitored". Once a large number of people propose the change it should be put to a vote (online mainly but also via paper).
From: redave (at) supanet.com.

Nov. 4, 2014: Rule by the People: I would like to say that democracy should protect the people, include citizens access to the opportunity; the government should respect human rights and rule of law.
From: phukhureh11 (at) gmail.com.

June 10, 2014: Democracy is different people having different ideas. Where persons are not able to express their own individual ideas, it is not democracy. If I have my own ideas, and I cannot express them, within reasonable limits of common ethical standards for the given cultural group, that is not democracy. There must be some minimal cultural standard. The standard must not be too narrow or too broad. You cannot allow persons to say and do distasteful or horrible things, but you also cannot restrict them having views. Therefore, a country like Egypt is not fit for democracy. Either the military is too restrictive or the Muslim Brothers are too restrictive but, either way -- no room there for democracy, unless they rein in the offending party. If you disallow the views of half the population it is hard to call it a democracy.
From: worldcitizenjs (at) gmail.com.

May 13, 2014, Pat Wells: I have written at length addressing the questions of leadership and democracy in Rethinking Survival. Posted at rethinkingsurvival.com: Reinventing DEMOCRACY.

Definition of Democracy (Updated: Jan. 12, 2008)

Democracy Ancient and "Representative"

The Parental Nature of Government and Democracy

What is Democracy?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what the word Democracy means. In spite of the fact that at least in some parts of the world one can hear it from the media every day.

Democracy by definition means the government by people. That means that all the people should be able to have their say in one way or another in everything that affects their lives. Dictionaries usually say that this right can either be exercised directly (by all members of a community having the possibility to enter personally, without mediators, their position on a particular issue into the decision making process - modern technology is able to provide this possibility for increasingly larger and larger communities), or through representatives (members of legislative bodies). This second arrangement is then called Representative Democracy.

Representative democracy would be fine if the representatives would really make all their decisions only after consulting their constituencies. In the least, after having a clear idea about the views of their constituents on a particular issue, and trying to accommodate these views as best as possible (or postpone the decisions until an overwhelming majority of the constituents would be happy with them).

Unfortunately, a vast majority of countries that call themselves Representative Democracies are not true democracies according to the above definition. Most of them are actually just Elected Dictatorships. People can vote usually only once every four or five years. They do not vote on any issues. They just elect their so called representatives who then until the next elections have no obligations by law and little incentives to base their decisions on individual issues on the wishes on their electorate. They hardly ever bother to consult them on their stands on various issues. Therefore, legislative bodies composed of such "representatives" act in a very dictatorial manner between the elections. The only country that is quite close to the definition of Democracy is Switzerland (more or less since 1291).

Any governmental system is fine if the people subjected to this system are happy with it. Perhaps, in most of the above described "Elected Dictatorships," such a system of government is still the best one under the current circumstances?

What do you think? Are you happy with is? Isn't it time to do better? It all should depend on you, the citizens - which system you prefer. Are you willing to give some of your free time to be interested in public matters, and to participate in decision making?

We would like to hear from the politicians of the so called "Representative Democracies" how in their view their activities satisfy the definition of Democracy.

We would like to discuss the interesting question of the Leadership. What is the role of leaders in a true Democracy?

We would like to contribute to the clarification of the meaning of the word Democracy.

You are invited to participate.

Miroslav Kolar, August 17, 2005
Politicians should be your humble servants, not your all-powerful masters.

The question "What is Democracy?" - the definition of democracy is also discussed in this forum
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