Where did democracy come from?

Where did democracy come from?

Hello My Flames

Have you ever wondered about democracy? I do. Especially these days as we deal with a brutal two-party system in this country.

The word democracy comes from two Greek words. Demos, people and kratos, rule or power. Therefore, the word means rule by the people, or power of the people.

In five hundred seven BC, yep, before the common era,  Athenian Cleisthenes introduced a system of political ideas that he called demokratia, or rule by the people. This idea was the first known democracy in the world and Cleisthenes is referred to as the father of Athenian democracy.

In ancient Greece, where there were many city-states with different forms of government, such as monarchies or elitist groups, Athens—and its surrounding territory of Attica— was the first polis or city to adopt democracy, based on Cleisthenes leadership. Democracy, resting upon the principles of majority rule and individual rights, is government in which power and civic responsibility are exercised by all citizens, directly, or through their elected representatives.

This meant that all citizens are equally eligible in the creation, development and proposal of laws. It is a principle of freedom meant to improve the citizen’s lives and their cities.

Now, on to the democratic party in our government.

The election of 1828 is commonly regarded as a turning point in the political history of the United States. Andrew Jackson was the first president born in poverty and he had an inherent prejudice against those who flaunted wealth and position above others who were not so fortunate.

He had no well-defined program of action when he entered the presidency but there was a rising tide of democratic beliefs and, as the power of the older political organizations waned, there was a rise of new political leaders skilled in appealing to voters. Originally a conservative, Jackson seemed to find that democracy was more aligned with his own personal values.

When he was elected in 1829, there was a definite shift in the political picture. Though Jackson was in poor health during his time in office, he and Martin Van Buren, Jackson’s first secretary of state, became the key founders of the democratic party. Van Buren also was slated to become the probable successor of Jackson as president, which he did, getting elected in 1837.

Jackson turned the political status quo on its ear, but even so, his presidency was scarred by a federal finance and banking issues and even worse, he was part of the Trail of Tears and the Indian Removal Act of 1830. 

Nevertheless, Jackson  left office more popular than when he entered it. This widespread approval had a profound effect on the character of US politics for more than fifty years and was  a vindication of the new democracy. Though the wisdom of democratic thinking would still be questioned from time to time, Jackson had established a pattern that future candidates for the presidency attempted to imitate. Being born into humble circumstances, experience on the frontier, being close to the people and a devotion to democracy seemed valuable assets for any candidate.

When elected as president,  Jackson was the candidate of a splinter group rather than of a party. When he retired from the presidency, he left a vigorous and well-organized Democratic Party as a legacy.

So, there is your history lesson for today. But wait there’s more! And I find these mind-blowing democratic principles amazing to read again. Reeeaaaally read them again. How could anyone NOT be democratic?

Life 

The right to live without fear of injury or being killed by others

Liberty

The right to think and to act without interference from the government

Pursuit of Happiness 

The right to pursue happiness AS LONG AS the rights of others are NOT violated.

Checks and Balances 

The powers of the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) should be balanced.

Civilian Control of the Military 

The people control the military to preserve democracy. 

Diversity 

Embracing difference of culture, style, language, heritage, or religion to ensure that needs of all individuals are represented in government. 

Equality 

Everyone has the same treatment no matter race, sex, religion, or economic position. 

Federalism 

Local, state, and federal governments share power as outlined by the Constitution.

Freedom of Religion 

The right to practice any or no religion without persecution by the government.

Individual Rights

Each individual has the fundamental right to life, liberty, economic freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Justice

Based on the concept of fairness, we expect wrongs to be corrected and no group or persons should be favored

Patriotism

American citizens have national pride and loyalty (not obedience).

Popular Sovereignty 

The power of the government comes from the people

Public/Common Good 

Working together to benefit everyone in the community

Representative Government 

People have the right to elect others to represent them in government

 

Rule of Law

Both the people and the government must obey the law

Separation of Powers 

The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government should be separate institutions so no one branch has all the power.

Truth 

Our government and its citizens should not lie; all information should be valid and honest.

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