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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194

There are not characters, in a literary sense, in this text, because it is not a story. It is not a narrative that follows one story, like a novel with a protagonist and antagonist and supporting characters. Instead, it is really an analysis of the difference between democracy, which refers to how a government is selected, and Constitutional liberalism, which refers to what a government's goals are, a tradition, Zakaria says,

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that seeks to protect an individual's autonomy and dignity against coercion, whatever the source—state, church, or society.

It is possible for a country to be a democracy without really giving its citizens much personal liberty, just as it is possible for citizens of a nation to have a great deal of liberty without actually participating in a democracy. Further, just because a nation elects its leaders via the democratic process, it doesn't necessarily follow that those leaders are good ones, interested in advancing the freedom of a nation's people. As Zakaria examines the history of various countries' paths toward or away from democracy, he discusses real historical personages such as Yasser Arafat or Boris Yeltsin, but these are not characters in story.

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