Virtues of democracy
THE ultimate goal of democracy is to create a government for the people by the elected leaders of the people who work for the well-being and happiness of the people.
Most of the current leaders of democracy all over the world forget this fact. When the oldest of modern democracy was created by the founders of the Constitution of the United States of America to have a new system outside of a Kingdom, the pursuit of happiness by every member of the society was their motto, not grabbing power by the elected representative.
They created a constitution that starts by saying, “We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Core Democratic values defined in the US Constitution are Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, Justice, Common Good, Equality, Truth, Diversity, Popular Sovereignty and Patriotism. Life means each citizen has the right to the protection of his or her life. Liberty includes the freedom to believe what you want, the freedom to choose your friends, and to have your own ideas and opinions.
Pursuit of Happiness means each citizen can find happiness in his or her own way, so long as he or she does not step on the rights of others. Justice means that all people are treated fairly in getting advantages and disadvantages of the country. No group or person should be favoured.
Common Good means citizens should work together for the good of all. The government should make laws that are good for everyone. Equality means everyone should get the same treatment regardless of where their parents or grandparents were born, their race, their religion, or how much money they have.
Citizens all have political, social and economic equality. Truth means the government and citizens should not lie. Diversity differences in language, dress, food, where the parents and grandparents were born, race and religion are not only allowed but also accepted as important.
Popular Sovereignty means the power of government comes from the people. Patriotism means having devotion to our country and the core democratic values in what we say and what we do.
In any democratic system of government, the core values are the same. It is about Truth, Equal Justice, Happiness for all citizens and Unselfish and Noncorrupt leaders. It was created to give power to the people to rule themselves for the welfare of the people. The leaders are expected to uphold the values and respect every citizen regardless of race, religion or economic status.
What is the status of democracy now? Let us look at the main two democracies, the oldest and the largest, the United States of America and India. The constitution of India declares that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic; it assures its citizens justice, equality and liberty and endeavours to promote fraternity.
Both Indian and US constitutions uphold the rights of individuals, their welfare and freedom. The objective of the rule of a king or an autocrat is not these three, rather the purpose is to use the authority to stay in power and enjoy life for themselves and their families. They collect taxes and spend it for their own good. They build roads and transportation so that they can move around to control the population.
Democracy originated in Athens, Greece, during the 5th Century BC when power was shared with people, not with all people, but with selected individuals. It took different forms for centuries and by the 18th century it had taken better forms.
The constitution of the USA adopted in 1788 provides the first blueprint of modern democracy. In the US Constitution, there is the separation of the Legislative body, Executive body and Judicial body. In Federal government, the President of the United States, elected by the people is the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief, the US Senate, elects 2 senators from each State and 435 US House of Representatives elected from each State based on population, together called the US Congress is the legislative branch and the Federal District Courts, Appeals Courts and US Supreme Court is the judicial branch.
The federal judges are nominated by the president and approved by the US Senate. Similarly State chief executive is the governor directly elected by the people, the legislative branch consists of the State Senate and Assembly and the State Judicial system consists of Superior courts, appeal courts and State supreme courts separate from the Federal judicial system establishing justice within the individual States under State law.
Presential systems are followed in many countries. In India, the UK and other countries, it is the parliamentary system, where the leader of the majority party becomes the Prime Minister or the Chief Executive, who is also part of the legislative body. The executive branch makes the appointment of judges. Even though there are three branches, there is no real separation.
Since it is a people’s body intended to govern the people, democratic leaders shall be noble and unselfish individuals with virtues, not corrupt and selfish. We need to make sure we elect those types of leaders.
The political system that elects the leaders has become corrupt in most democratic governments including the USA, UK, India and many other countries. The virtues of democracy are disappearing. We need to bring it back and educate the new generation on the virtues of democracy. If the virtues of democracy are lost, people lose faith and participation in the process is discouraged.
The success of democracy depends on the participation of the people since it is a people’s government. Corrupt, selfish and inefficient leaders should be defeated regardless of their party affiliations.
Both the USA and India are secular democracies and we should ensure the leaders uphold secularism and equality. People have the power to uphold the virtues of democracy and elect good leaders.