The five principles of a democracy ensure that citizens have rights which are protected by law and that there is order which is enforced by elected representatives.
The first principle, rule of law, provides the framework for a democracy. In America, the US Constitution establishes the boundaries for every citizen and government official to follow, as it is the supreme law of the land. Likewise, American state and local governments also have laws to keep order and freedom. There must be a clear establishment of law to secure liberties.
Next, individual rights are essential to a democracy, because citizens are the heart of a nation. The US Constitution provides for individual rights in many capacities. One of the most prominent places is in the First Amendment (which provides for freedom of worship, speech, assembly, petition, and the press). The founding fathers of America wanted to make sure that a democratic form of government was created, so citizens never lived under tyranny again. The premise that “all men are created equal” and have natural rights (which should never be taken away) is central to democracy.
Another principle, the consent of the governed, is essential for a democracy to endure. This means that all citizens agree to abide by the laws of the land but that they also have a voice in the government. Citizens have the right to vote, petition the government, elect and recall officials, and more. When a form of government loses the consent of the governed, it is no longer a democracy. This principle asserts that the government is to exist for the people, not the other way around.
The next principle of a democracy, representative government, coincides directly with the consent of the governed. In America, citizens vote for many officials to be their voices in government. These representatives are to serve the people as they work for the expressed needs and desires of their constituents. Citizens can call, write, and visit their representatives to petition government officials or demand change. If citizens lose their voice, government officials can begin working for their own agendas.
Lastly, a system of checks and balances is also vital for a healthy democracy. In order to maintain this, the US Constitution established three branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—each with its own responsibilities and powers. Again, the founding fathers of America did not want a king who acted as a despot ever again. Likewise, they did not want lawmakers who made unjust rules or judges who were corrupt. So, checks and balances exist to maintain accountability and keep citizens’ rights at the center of government.