Democracy requires civil engagement for government to function properly as a democratic government. Even if government officials and civil institutions are not impediments to representation, the failure of people to participate in the governance of their own society undermines their democracy, thus a lack of civil engagement equates to an ill-democratic government. When public officials, civil institutions, and special interests impede the ability of the people to be represented by their own government, a nation becomes ill-democratic.
As such, the ability to vote is not enough to make a nation a democracy, especially when role of elected officials is restricted by unelected officials or the qualifications to run for public office are far too restrictive for the population to be represented. The 2009 Green Revolution in Iran serves as an example that must weigh heavily on the minds of Iran’s leadership as they await the fallout of their highly-selective 2016 election, hoping results do not enflame civil discontent. Although there are numerous other examples of ill-democratic elections in ill-democratic countries, even democracies like the US suffer from similar issues.
In the United States, the 2016 Presidential race has elevated Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump as the frontrunners of their respective parties. Where Hillary Clinton is the clear favorite of the Democratic Party establishment, which has helped promote her above other candidates while guaranteeing her nomination with so-called Super Delegates should she fail to win the popular vote, Donald Trump is so hated by the Republican Party establishment that they are doing everything they can to impede his rise as political powerhouse. Although Trump has his obvious faults, the political establishment is undercutting democracy by refusing to respect the People’s choice.
It is perfectly acceptable, as well as necessary and proper in a democracy, for members of political parties to disagree with each other. What is not acceptable is any attempt to undermine elections, because the affluent do not like the guy who the People want. Thoroughly ill-democratic, this abuse of influence is simply an example of special interests engineering government, so it serves their interests at the expense of the majority. Although the ability to carry out the duties of a public office is a legitimate reason to restrict who can run for a particular office, attempts to “select” leaders for the People to serve one’s own interests defeats the very purpose of democracy.
When Jeb Bush announced the end of his candidacy, many of his donors, who poured millions into his campaign, basically said they were too defeated to immediately support another candidate. In many respects, they are failing to recognize the fact that elections are not their choice. Instead of pouring millions upon millions of dollars to help elect someone they like, it would be far more beneficial for these donors and democracy if they spent their money supporting the missions of political organizations like the Washington Outsider. In doing so, they would help ensure public officials and the People have the insights, “intellectual architecture,” and innovative policy choices needed to adequately address the numerous issues threatening our society.
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