Although most countries around the world have been officially recognized as democracies, oppressive governments still exist, and are more dangerous than ever before.
Following the Arab Spring, the Egyptian people replaced the horrible Hosni Mubarak with Mohamed Morsi, who has proven himself to be just another autocrat, ignoring constitutional procedures in favor of maximizing his own power until his inevitable removal from office. Other, more popular leaders – like Argentina’s Carlos Menem – bypass their parliaments and rule by presidential decree, thereby eroding the constitutions of their respective countries.
The ostensibly democratic governments of Iran and Ethiopia have also committed heinous acts, violating the very preconditions of a democracy.
Even the Western world suffers from a similar trend: in the United States, the institutions we view as the models for all democracies appear dysfunctional.
The U.S. Congress has become a synonym for gridlock, as an organization obsessed with rhetoric rather than actual progress. Currently, the government is at the mercy of global market forces and the corporate backers of political campaigns. To onlookers, it would seem that any power the people may possess is illusionary at best.
While I do not claim to be a political theorist, I will nevertheless offer my solution to these problems which plague not only the U.S., but democracies all over the world.
I first suggest the imposition of limits upon governmental bodies. This may seem restrictive by itself, but it is complemented by my second suggestion: that power is placed in the hands of the people in all secular spheres of life.
In a democracy, the legitimate government must ultimately be synonymous with the people. In practice, this means a decreased emphasis on representatives, in favor of more direct measures of democracy. Democratic governments are becoming increasingly centralized, even though more direct democratic methods are both more desirable and practical. This is not to say that delegation is no longer necessary; however, in a world where people can support a petition with the click of a mouse, the notion that decisions must be made primarily by elected representatives is looking increasingly anachronistic.
While democracy may be struggling, it isn’t defeated, and with the proper changes, the voice of the people can be heard and weighed at its proper value.