The term democracy has been changed and perverted beyond recognition. Democracy was meant to be an ideal form of government in which citizens were considered equal and opportunities for growth were not limited for just a chosen few. Democracy functions as a result of public opinion and it is this aspect of public opinion that makes democracy truly liberal. The founding fathers of America such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington desired that the federal government should play as small a role as possible and that individual freedom was above and beyond government control.
Democracy is not just a form of government but also a way of life for a very large section of the world’s population. Democracy was developed as a form of government in ancient Greece and was based on a set of values, principles and ideals. Democracy was meant to be an institution for the people’s welfare and not for the welfare of the state or those who run the state. These values and ideas have changed over the centuries and what we have today is democracy in its multifaceted forms. Today we have Liberal Democracy, People’s Democracy, Basic Democracy, Guided Democracy and also Christian or Islamic Democracy.
The people in a liberal democracy are the true sovereigns. It is the people who determine who forms the government or who becomes the chief executive of a nation state. But in a large population all cannot form the executive and make decisions and hence this responsibility is delegated to elected representatives. In a liberal democracy these elected representatives are truly answerable to the people. It is this sovereignty of the people that makes a liberal democracy unique. When elected representatives begin to misuse the sovereignty of the people for their personal gain then that is no longer a liberal democracy.
The government was supposed to be small while individual enterprise was allowed to grow and prosper. This was the message that the framers of the constitution gave to the people of America and all those who were to form the government in times to follow. This is liberal democracy as it was meant to be and desired by the founding fathers. The federal government was not to intervene in all social and economic issues.