What Is Required in a Society for Democracy to Work?

Governmental systems must be transparent in a democracy.
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In theory, a democratic government is one that is controlled by the people. Citizen involvement is necessary to ensure fair governmental practice and equal rights. Philosophical disputes are tolerated and reconciliation requires compromise. A society that is built on democratic ideals recognizes the necessity of a governmental system. The system is approved of in some formal manner by the citiznes. A working democracy balances the needs of the people with order and representative control.

1 Political Infrastructure

A democracy requires an established order that allows all voices to be heard. The Constitution of the United States serves as a framework that satisfies this requirement. A true democracy must respect conflicting opinions, encourage debate and honor the opinions of its citizens. For example, a fair election process that encourages discussion about issues and allows all people to weigh in is essential in a democratic government. Of equal importance is an election outcome that is truly determined by the votes of the people.

2 Participation

A democracy works when citizens are educated and engaged in public and civic organizations. Involvement helps citizens learn about current issues and devise possible solutions. Similarly, affiliation with political parties fosters an investment in the democratic process. A democracy does not mandate involvement but instead empowers citizens to participate. Voting in elections is a critical right and privilege that represents democratic participation.

3 Protection Of Rights

A democracy is founded on principles that ensure rights for each citizen. Individuals are guaranteed freedoms associated with religion, cultural identity, expression and an independent belief structure. Democratic citizens are encouraged to assemble and become a part of groups and associations that reinforce their values and ideals. A democracy allows varied opinions to be voiced and recognized. All of these rights are protected and include the responsibility of all to respect one another.

4 Legal Process

Laws govern a democracy and protect the rights of citizens. A democratic legal structure provides parameters for government control and ensures fair adjudication of alleged transgressions. Citizens are protected from discrimination based upon race, ability, ethnicity, gender and religion. Punishment is outlined by the law and cannot include inhumane treatment such as torture or unsubstantiated allegations. Even high-ranking officials are subject to the laws of the land.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.