What is democracy? A Thoughtful

Essay add: 17-05-2016, 15:29   /   Views: 244
What is democracy?

In the dictionary definition, democracy "is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." According to Lincoln, democracy is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous. Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of a set of practices and procedures that have been molded through a long, often tortuous history. In short, democracy is the institutionalization of freedom. The description of democracy could take up more than 10 more pages, but to simplify this, democracy is basically a system which includes: people who have sovereignty, a government based upon consent of the governed, rulership of the majority, however serving to protect the rights of minorities--whether ethnic, religious, or political, or simply the losers in the debate over a piece of controversial legislation, guarantee of basic human rights for all, free and fair elections, equality before law, constitutional limits on the power of government, social, economic, and political pluralism, and values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise. Although experiencing minor improvements in terms of democracy, progression of liberty for racial minorities, improvement in voting conditions, betterment in the equal distribution of town offices according to financial status of the people, Wethersflield didn´t illustrate major progression from the 1750´s to the 1780´s, with the presence of unequal distribution of land and property, and lack of religious tolerance.

Between the 1750´s and the 1780´s, Wethersfield experienced some minor improvement in terms of democracy. Most notibly, the increase of the free black population. According to `Document A´, in 1756 50% of the black population were slaves, whereas in 1774, 36.1% of all blacks were slaves. This was a great accomplishment considering the fact that even though the white population increased by 54.2%, the number of black slaves decreased in number, since it would have been expected for the slave population to rise in order to satisfy the needs of more whites. Other than racial liberty,according to `Document G´, Wethersfield also experienced a slight increase in the percentage of adult white males meeting the freeman requirements, along dramatic increase in the percentage of adult white males taking freeman´s oath, actually voting, and getting elected to town offices between 1751 to 1776. Although the actual question is that if the 35% of the adult white males meeting freeman´s requirements but not voting is due any sort of pressure, or illegal enforcement, or simply because they didn´t care, or transportation during 1751-1756 wasn´t as efficient as it was in 1771-1776. According to `Document H´ during the years 1751-1756 the wealthy people dominated major town offices. The richest 20% white males took up 82% of the major town offices where as 50%, poorest half, of adult white males didn´t occupy any place in the major town offices. But in the years 1771-1776, the wealthiest 10% of adult white males occupying major town offices fell from 67% to 40%. And in 1776, 8% of the people elected for major town offices, were situated in the poorest 30%. These are the evidence from the documents that suggest Wethersfield moved towards democracy.

Although on the other side, Wethersfield lacked several of the important pillars of democracy. Distribution of taxable property grew more unequal from 1756 to 1773. According to `Document B´, the richest 10% of adult white males payed $127 in 1756, and $163 in 1773. But the rest all payed less, meaning they owned less prperty in 1773, which means the rich got richer, the rest got poorer. `Document C´ shows how some got richer, owning more than 1,000 acres of land, and the 16% increase of people with no land. `Document D´ shows the increasing unequality between the different people. In 1756 the difference between the richest. John Chester Sr., and the 5th richest, Samuel Buck, was $132. But in 1774 the difference between the richest, John Chester Jr., and the 5th richest, Silas Deane, was $283. Documents `I, J, K, M, N´ state the lack of religious tolerance in Wethersfield.

Democracy may be a word familiar to most, but it is a concept still misunderstood and misused in a time when totalitarian regimes and military dictatorships alike have attempted to claim popular support by pinning democratic labels upon themselves. Yet the power of the democratic idea has also evoked some of history's most profound and moving expressions of human will and intellect: from Pericles in ancient Athens to Vaclav Havel in the modern Czech Republic, from Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence in 1776 to Andrei Sakharov's last speeches in 1989.

Article name: What is democracy? A Thoughtful essay, research paper, dissertation