Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
The information on this page comes mainly from encyclopedia Wikipedia and summarizes
the article explaining how "democracy" works.
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people from all around the world. The site is a wiki, which means that anyone can edit articles, simply by clicking on the
"edit this page link". It runs on MediaWiki software.
I decided to post this article because it is helpful
in understanding the rights of minorities and majorities in the United States under our form of democratic government.
We seem to be bombarded with examples of majorities wanting to restrict the rights of minorites who don't conform
to their beliefs. Just as frequently we are bombarded with examples of minorities who want to broaden their rights into areas
heretofore considered resricted, and seemingly for good reason.
Both sides increasingly lambast the judiciary for
decisions based on law which don't agree with the dissenters' particular point of view. Judges are labled "Conservative"
or "Liberal" depending on who agrees with the decision.
For me, it's helpful to sit down and review how democracy
is supposed to work. While free speech is allowed, and even encouraged, in our democracy, ultimately our society is one
based on our constitution and laws enacted by our elected legislators.
As pointed out in the last paragraph below, we need to remember
when we are in the majority on an issue that the next time we may be in the minority. We should do unto others as we
would have them do unto us. On the next issue we may be on the receiving end with a minority view.
To view this entire article click on this link.
Democracy is a form of government under which the
power to alter the laws and structures of government lies, ultimately, with the citizenry. Under such a system, legislative
decisions are made by the people themselves or by representatives who act through the consent of the people, as enforced by
elections and the rule of law.
In practical effect, this definition generally comes with qualifications and limitations.
In most modern democratic nations, for example, the set of citizens who can exercise these powers through voting are restricted
to those who are 18 years of age or older. A further qualification is that, realistically, in elections, decisions are not
made by the whole of "the people," but rather by most of the people who actually participate.
While democracy per
se implies only a system of government defined and legitimized by elections, modern democracy can be characterized more fully
by the following institutions:
* A constitution which limits the powers and controls the formal operation of government,
whether written, unwritten or a combination of the two.
* Election of public officials, conducted in a free and just manner
* The right to vote and to stand for election
* Freedom of expression (speech, assembly, etc.)
* Freedom of the press and access to alternative information sources
* Freedom of association
* Equality before the law and due process under the rule of law
* Educated citizens informed of their rights and civic responsibilities
Some summarize the definition of
democracy as being "majority rule with minority rights."
Nonetheless, some people believe that there is no system
that can ideally order society and that democracy is not morally ideal. These advocates say that at the heart of democracy
is the belief that if a majority is in agreement, it is legitimate to harm the minority.
The opponents to this viewpoint
say that in a liberal democracy, like the United States government, where particular minority groups are protected from being
targeted, majorities and minorities actually take a markedly different shape on every issue; therefore, majorities will usually
be careful to take into account the dissent of the minority, lest they ultimately become part of a minority on a future democratic