Tools of Democracy
Democracies require various tools in order to function properly. A true democracy ensures that all citizens have the ability to play an active role in shaping the policies and course of action that the governing body pursues. Democracies may feature direct representation, indirect representation or some combination of the two, however, the democratic process works best when citizens have access to the tools of democracy.
1 The Ability to Vote
Voting plays a major role in the democratic process regardless of the type of democracy the governed are participating in. Voting enables citizens to be an active part of the government and to give their input into how the relevant area and institutions should be run. Having votes and elections fosters political dialogue and debate that can benefit the governed. The legitimacy of the voting process must be protected in order to guarantee that a democracy functions properly.
2 Free Press
A free press must exist in order for a democracy to flourish. A true democracy depends on the free-flowing exchange of ideas and principles. An unrestricted press stands as a vital tool for the introduction and dissemination of political viewpoints and allows opposing stances to be sorted out through the sphere of public opinion and the voting process. A free press has the ability to openly question candidates and government officials and bring to light the issues that are relevant to the public.
3 Access to Libraries
An informed populace stands as one of the necessary components of a successful democracy. Libraries provide citizens with a source of knowledge and access to various ideas, viewpoints and histories pertaining to the civics and government of a democracy. The Library of Congress stands as an example of the connection between libraries and the implementation of democratic government. Institutions such as the American Library Association support the democratic principles through actions like drawing attention to books that have been banned in certain libraries. Ensuring that public institutions do not hide unpopular information remains vital to democracy and its associated principles.
4 Access to the Internet
The Internet stands as one of the most vital tools in the modern democratic process. Governments can more easily and rapidly share vital information with the public through the Internet. The advent of social media means that citizens have a new and expedient means of conversing and participating in the public discourse. Access to the Internet also means that citizens have readily available channels to communicate at the local, state and national levels. The Internet provides the populace with a means of gathering and interpreting information and should ideally work to promote democracy.
- 1 US AID: Supporting Free and Fair Elections
- 2 US AID: Free Press: The Cornerstone of Democracy
- 3 Libraries & Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty; Nancy C. Kranich, Editor
- 4 National League of Cities: Latest Tools for Strengthening Local Democracy: Model Ordinances, Online Games and Other Innovations