Since July 4, 1777, much has changed in the world. The technological, economic, and cultural differences between the Eighteenth Century and the Twenty-First Century are more than obvious, yet the differences in governance around the world are often overlooked, especially when clouded by so many examples of bad government. Globalization has allowed Western democratic ideals to spread and culture the Peoples of the world in an ongoing democratization process that compels people to demand more of their governments. The world may not be a democratic paradise, but the Peoples of the world have been conditioned to embrace democratic thinking.
In the Eighteenth Century, the Peoples of the wold were compelled to obey and serve autocratic rulers, whose governing power was derived solely from Divine Right. Back then, people existed to serve government. Today, governments, including authoritarian governments, exist to serve people. The shift in the thinking may be small and often unnoticed, but it is a powerful and crucial step in social evolution. Instead of just tolerating the rule of a government until it becomes so unbearable that it sparks a revolution, which simply empowers a more tolerable autocratic government, people have learned that government is accountable to them and the decisions of rulers should be scrutinized.
During the time of the American Revolution, affluent Americans decided they could no longer tolerate the King of England taking a portion of their earnings and property for whatever cause he deemed worthy, i.e. taxation without representation. They decided to declare independence from the British Empire, but they also embraced the ideals of democratic representation instead of simply seizing power. Initially, the American Revolution mainly afforded freedom to white male landowners. Today, wealthy individuals and businesses enjoy special attention from government in line with this American heritage. Although very ill-democratic at first, the US has continued to democratize and liberalize by affording greater representation and freedom to more groups of people.
Unfortunately, the tendency to cater to special interests, among other issues, has helped fuel dysfunction at all levels of government in the US as well as Europe. A large part of the problem is economic regression, which is starving an increasing number of individuals of the incomes and opportunities they need to secure their freedoms and wellbeing with financial might. Just as American’s revolutionaries empowered individuals through the Constitution to express their views and defend themselves, the generations of today need to be empowered with financial security and opportunity to secure their life, liberty, and happiness. This is why the West needs new Civil Rights Movement focused on financial freedoms.
Elsewhere, democratic movements within the Middle East have been stalled by the unwillingness of authoritarian governments to relinquish power, their willingness to use modern war machines against their Peoples, and terrorists who seek power for their own ideological goals. Africa has faced failing and ill-democratic governments for decades. South America is, of course, caught in an ideology struggle between socialism and capitalism perpetuated by corrupt leaders who want to use government to exploit the continent for themselves. Pockets of communities in Asia are achieving propensity, but that limited prosperity for a limited few simply eases pressure to secure prosperity and representation for all. In looking at the failures of modern governance, it is easily to declare failure.
Civilization is, however, a living thing, so it changes and grows with the organisms that form it. Democracy is a process, a constant struggle to represent the governed and address their interests in a balanced way. As failed attempts at governance are cast off by populations and successful attempts are adopted, democratic governance can thrive. Like all governments, democracies can, and do, fail. While failure can happen at any time, success is measured in years and generations. Success is defined by the ability of government to represent the People and address their interests. Consequently, modern government starts to succeed when it strives to become a far more representative and responsive government.
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