Upon which concepts does the foundation of our democratic system rest?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are many concepts that can be seen as the foundation for democracy and different people have different ways of enumerating these concepts.  One way of listing these concepts holds that there are four basic concepts of democracy.  They are:

  • Popular sovereignty.  This is the idea that the people have the ultimate power and the will of the majority must be obeyed.
  • Political liberty.  At the same time, we all have political rights that cannot be taken away, regardless of what the majority wants to do.  In a true democracy, no kinds of political speech or actions are banned.
  • Personal liberty.  We also have the right to be left alone in our personal actions.  We should not be told, for example, where we may live or what sorts of music we may listen to.  These are not political choices per se, but they are rights that we feel we have as citizens.
  • Political equality.  Democracy depends on all people having an equal opportunity to influence the government.  We cannot have a democracy if, for example, some people have 10 votes and others have only 1.  

These concepts can be seen as the foundation upon which our system rests.


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