The definition of democracy concentrates on the debates among proponents of deliberative, substantive, and procedural justice. Procedural democrats generally emphasize institutions and practices characterized by a democratic regime (Dahl, 1-3). Deliberative democrats make decisions showing that the most appropriate procedures can be transformed into a proper form of democracy (Dahl, 2-5). Substantive democracy explains the procedures as necessary but not adequate to bring about democratic results (Miller, 201-210). Modern political democracy is therefore defined as a system of governance where the leaders are held responsible for their actions in the public domain by citizens (Szolucha, 18-20). The citizen acts indirectly through the participation of their elected representatives; thus, the supreme authority is vested in the people, exercised directly by them or by their elected delegates under a free electoral system (Szolucha, 20).
A system or a regime of governance is an organization of patterns confining the methods of access to the principal public office with the characteristics of the participants excluded or admitted from such access (Miller, 207-218). The realm entails making the collective choices and norms that unite the society backed by state compulsion. In the democratic form of governance, citizens are the most distinctive elements; in other words, all the regimes have public domain and leaders, but only to the extent to which they are democratic the citizens. Standard courses of action are taken after citizens have weighed the demerits and merits and listen to the alternatives of such activities and decisions. The fundamental feature of democracy is, therefore, cooperation (Miller, 215-220). Participants who primarily include the citizens, through their representative, voluntarily make collective decisions that unite the republic as a whole (Schmitter & Terry, 75). They cooperate and collaborate through associations, parties, and even movements to elect candidates, select petition authorities, and also to influence policies. Furthermore, democracy’s freedom should also encourage citizens to discover their basic needs, deliberate among themselves, and to resolve their dispute and disagreements without relying on some supreme central authority (Schmitter & Terry, 78-80). The representatives, whether elected directly or indirectly, usually do most of the real work in a modern democracy; these representatives mostly constitute professional politicians oriented to their careers (Schmitter & Terry, 80-82).
Since the representatives are elected by citizens, in turn, the final decision making power rest with those elected by the people; this means the people are the Supreme in a democratic form of governance and that all the voices count. Thus, democracy can be deemed to be the will of people and the people’s sovereignty (Szolucha, 20).
In a real democracy, a representative or the state is always elected by the majority vote. All the citizens are equally considered to have equal power in terms of choosing a representative or the government as a whole; in other words, one man one vote as in most of the states thus, all voices eventually count (Miller, 220-226). However, the fundamental rights are restricted to a minimum form and not like a total free democratic state. Ideal democracy is similar to real democracy in terms of equal power of electing the government. However, in an ideal democracy, all citizens are provided with total fundamental rights and liberty concerning the law of the country (Dahl, 5-10).
The minimum democracy infers that a system or a regime should have a least a universal, competitive, and fair elections, mostly with more than one source of information and more than one political party (Miller, 226). Therefore existing rights, decision-making processes, and democratic institutions should not be constrained by external powers or non-elected elites. The main objectives of an ideal form of democracy are, therefore, freedom and equality.
For an ideal democracy to be depicted as the will of the people, it should involve a degree of uncertainty about who is to be elected and what policies they will pursue (Miller, 226-227). The constitution guarantees rights to property, expression, privacy, and other rights; however, the most effective boundaries are created by competition among the interested groups and cooperation within civil society (Miller, 228). Therefore these boundaries or limitations ensure that not just any participant can get into the competition and raise any issues that only, please. Again there are previously constitutional rules that must be adhered to or observed (Schmitter & Terry, 85). Again not just any policy is adopted since there are some specific conditions and regulations by the constitution; the country constitution, therefore, provides governance-related institutions such as the judiciary and the civil service (Miller, 226).
Also, an ideal democracy generally requires the existence and free exercise of certain primary groups or individual rights. Some of these fundamental rights include the right to life, liberty, due process of law, equality, non-discrimination, judicial access, and freedom of assembly and expression (Dahl, 7). These fundamental rights, in turn, give rise to other substantive rights; however, all the substantive rights are dependent on their fair and effective implementation on procedural fairness (Schmitter & Terry, 86).
These texts (The Democracy Sourcebook, What is Democracy) have reinforced my understanding of democracy and made me acknowledge that democracy is the best form of governance. I have remarked that good governance has various attributes; however, citizen participation contributes to good governance in many ways and at different levels. Citizen participation is often not spontaneous but comes through the effective mobilization of all citizens of sound mind. More importantly, it provides the citizenry with the appropriate information or knowledge. It uses message and communication strategies that are well attuned to the cognitive capacities of the target populations (Szolucha, 20). By providing information and expertise in a very understandable manner, the citizenry will have the requisite tools for engagement. Thus the citizen will be in a better position to contribute to policy debate, decision making, and action, monitoring, and feedback devoid of fear, intimidation, and the rest of it that tends to make people sit on the fence. The political elite have to liberate the energies of all its human resources for real-time citizen participation.
I have also realized from the texts that in very dense environments, adequate mobilization of the citizenry can come through genuine/committed political, administrative, judiciary, and fiscal decentralization. This mobilization can be possible as from the center to the lowest level possible with well-educated and dedicated human resources in leadership positions and where there is a robust regular feedback mechanism both vertically and horizontally. In general, to allow involvement of citizens, it is necessary to adapt the processes majorly on the legislative level, because the state should allow the citizens to make contributions on the current changes, creating new and advancement of the policies. It also ensures that citizens can apply only society’s relevant policies. The state needs a threshold since the policy is suitable for a larger group of citizens and not only for a small consortium from enterprises. On the other hand, the barrier should not be too high because it must be possible for engaged citizens to apply a new policy; however, one has to keep in mind that not the whole society will participate in the policymaking.