The clearest and most concise summary of the ideals upon which our nation was founded can be found in the "self-evident Truths" found in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
The Declaration of Independence does not go into the details of how "the consent of the governed" is obtained, but logic dictates that the best manner of obtaining consent is by means of free and fair elections, with the votes of a majority of the governed determining who should govern and what powers they should have. The Declaration also says, "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." The time has come for us to reorganize the form of our government to make America truly democratic. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, it is not only our right, but our duty, to do so. In the process, we will find that by focusing on our shared values, we can heal the divisions among us that have grown so bitter in recent years.
The preamble to our Constitution is a concise summary of the proper role of government: to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare,and secure the Blessings of Liberty
to ourselves and our Posterity".
The First Amendment to our Constitution protects us from persecution by the government as we exercise our fundamental freedoms. It does not protect from persecution from each other when we express our beliefs, thoughts, and opinions publicly. However, being free to express our true beliefs, thoughts, and opinions verbally or in writing is essential to the process of achieving consensus in a democracy. There is considerable room for improvement with regard to the tone and manner in which we communicate with one another when we discuss politics or matters of faith.
In his essay “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell addressed the difficulty of defining democracy:
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic, we are praising it: consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning."
For anyone with sincere intentions, defining “democracy” is a simple matter. The word was formed from a combination of the Greek words “demos”, which means “the people” and “kratos” (meaning “rule”) and/or “kratia”, which means “have power” or “authority.” A democratic government, therefore, is one in which the people rule (have power).
Working with a clear definition of democracy, judging whether a government is truly democratic is a simple matter. In a true democracy the will of a majority of the people determines public policies and what laws are passed.