"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful concerned individuals can precipitate change in world ... indeed, it is only thing that ever has"
"Democracy" is not rule of people. It is government by periodically vetted representatives of people.
Democracy is not tantamount to a continuous expression of popular will as it pertains to a range of issues. Functioning and fair democracy is representative and not participatory. Participatory "people power" is mob rule, not democracy.
Granted, "people power" is often required in order to establish democracy where it is unprecedented. Revolutions - velvet, rose, and orange - recently introduced democracy in Eastern Europe, for instance. People power - mass street demonstrations - toppled obnoxious dictatorships from Iran to Philippines and from Peru to Indonesia.
But once institutions of democracy are in place and more or less functional, people can and must rest. They should let their chosen delegates do job they were elected to do. And they must hold their emissaries responsible and accountable in fair and free ballots once every two or four or five years.
As heads of state in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and East Europe can attest, these vital lessons are lost on dozens of "new democracies" world over. Many of these presidents and prime ministers, though democratically elected (multiply, in some cases), have fallen prey to enraged and vigorous "people power" movements in their countries.
And these breaches of democratic tradition are not only or most egregious ones.
The West boasts of three waves of democratization that swept across world 1975. Yet, in most developing countries and nations in transition, "democracy" is an empty word. Granted, hallmarks of democracy are there: candidate lists, parties, election propaganda, and voting. But its quiddity is absent. It is being consistently hollowed out and rendered mock by election fraud, exclusionary policies, cronyism, corruption, intimidation, and collusion with Western interests, both commercial and political.
The new "democracies" are thinly-disguised and criminalized plutocracies (recall Russian oligarchs), authoritarian regimes (Central Asia and Caucasus), or Vichy-like heterarchies (Macedonia, Bosnia, and Iraq, to mention three recent examples).
The new "democracies" suffer from many of same ills that afflict their veteran role models: murky campaign finances, venal revolving doors between state administration and private enterprise, endemic corruption, self-censoring media, socially, economically, and politically excluded minorities, and so on. But while this malaise does not threaten foundations of United States and France - it does imperil stability and future of likes of Ukraine, Serbia, and Moldova, Indonesia, Mexico, and Bolivia.
Worse still, West has transformed ideal of democracy into an ideology at service of imposing a new colonial regime on its former colonies. Spearheaded by United States, white and Christian nations of West embarked with missionary zeal on a transformation, willy-nilly, of their erstwhile charges into paragons of democracy and good governance.
And not for first time. Napoleon justified his gory campaigns by claiming that they served to spread French ideals throughout a barbarous world. Kipling bemoaned "White Man's (civilizing) burden", referring specifically to Britain's role in India. Hitler believed himself to be last remaining barrier between hordes of Bolshevism and West. The Vatican concurred with him.