The Main Principles of Democracy: What You Need to Know

In our hectic, modern lives, it can be nearly impossible to focus on the important political news of the day. Especially when after a long day of work, you’re coming back home, exhausted, switching on the TV, hoping for a calm and peaceful evening, and all you encounter is another political scandal. But truth to be told – have you ever actually watched a debate in the US Congress? Have you ever cared enough to dig deep into bias-free political platforms to increase your political awareness?

I place my bets that most of us haven’t. This is also because Americans are fed up with unprecedented political events over the last several years.

The political dirge – the overwhelming and undecipherable noise – can cause even the most patient and reasonable person to scurry for mental health cover. It may even result in many simply giving up on what’s really important – keeping democracy on the right track and staying updated with politics. Understandably, the vast majority of us have defaulted to “politics isn’t for me,” “I don’t care about politicians,” or “I prefer to stay out of politics.”

Whether we like it or not, politics is related to everything happening around us. A democracy is a system where people get to decide on legislation, either directly or by electing governing bodies. Your opinion and vote contribute to the final outcomes that affect all of us.

Almost 50% of the countries around the world declare to live under a democratic political system. So, let’s explore what it means by taking an in-depth look at its most crucial principles.

1. Citizen Participation

The US is a democratic republic, and citizens can participate by taking part in the electoral process. Voting is, therefore, a crucial activity, if not the responsibility, as it’s the direct way of choosing those who’ll represent our beliefs, how we want to carve our society’s future, its values, goals, and needs. Every vote we place and every voice we are brave enough to arouse can influence both social and political situations.

However, there are also other ways to actively participate within a democratic system. These may include organizational participation when we connect with a local group or committee, as well as individual involvement like making statements or helping disseminate information through publications, conferences, or mass media. Moreover, voters may also attend hearings, listen to government records, or go through documents, all to build a better understanding of ongoing and future political actions.

No matter the participation form, when we talk about citizen involvement, the common denominator is how you contribute to the decision-making process and how you communicate with the appointed and elected officials that represent us in the government.

2. Equality

We all want to be able to access fair opportunities. Equality is one of the most essential principles of democracy, and it refers to every citizen being treated in the same way, no matter our individual traits and preferences. Having the same rights without any discrimination or preference might appear like a fundamental, well-established political rule. However, as society tends to prove over and over again – we still have a long way to go.

Regardless of age, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, physical capabilities, economical situation, or educational background, we all have the right to vote, give our opinion, and actively participate in making decisions about the political direction of our country.

3. Freedom

We can all agree that freedom is indefeasible and the most fundamental right for all of us. Following Thomas Paine’s thought, “my own mind is my own church,” it’s the freedom of thought, freedom of self-expression, and belief that carve a powerful sense of individualism within society, building strength, awareness, and diversity among citizens.

Democracy is based on the principle of freedom by advancing a system in which citizens discuss policies and then make decisions by majority rule. This is the way to ensure free participation in building and influencing the political situation, steering it towards citizens’ needs. As Thomas Paine said: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” so let’s use our birthrights to speak our minds and create the country we all want to live in.

4. Regular, Free, And Fair Elections

We’ve already highlighted the importance of voting in a democracy but, to achieve its true potential, citizens will need to be represented accurately. There’s a balance between democratic political stability accomplished through maintaining regular, free, and fair elections and keeping the diversity of governance chosen by voters.

It’s crucial to provide guaranteed access for all citizens and ensure that all votes are counted fairly and thoroughly. In the US, elections are divided into federal, state, and local levels. The system is actually considered one of the most innovative in the world, using several counting methods and giving autonomy to the states to have their own processes.

5. Human rights

Dignity, fairness, equality, respect, and independence are the core aspects of universal human rights. These are the fundamental rights inherent to the human condition, which means we must respect them above anything else.

Although there are various forms of government, democracy has established itself as a structure that protects the interests of citizens through the rule of law and subsequently promotes equality, prevents the abuse of power, and advances stability.

As we learn more about how we relate to the world around us, we will realize that there are many topics related to democracy, policy, and government systems left for us to explore. But don’t worry, we’re here to walk you through all that.

Click here and start your bias-free political learning path.