Civil Society in a Representative Democracy

Madison McElhinney
Sep 11, 2016 · 3 min read

Now more than ever it is important to realize the importance of the role civil society plays in a representative democracy. My intended focus of study is International Affairs with a focus on politics, and when I tell people this their first question to me a majority of the time is “why would you want to be a politician”? The unfortunate truth of the matter is that the general society does not think highly on elected political actors. At the same time though I believe that people forget they have a voice and how to use it in a way that allows them to be heard in a way understand. In a representative democracy the role of civil society is so crucial to the democracy, but people do not use their voice in a way that helps or benefits them.

The America fought for a representative democracy so that society as a whole would be given a voice, because people were tired of living under a monarchy. People trusted their elected officials to represent their interests, rather they were in the minority or the majority. Over two hundred years ago America in its most vulnerable stage put its trust in their democracy, and now two hundred years later there are some people who are ready to be rid of its representative democracy. Last September the New York Times published an article called Across the Globe, a Growing Disillusion with Democracy, the article mentioned how when given the question how important having a democracy is, “Among those born since the 1980s, less than 30 percent did” (Foa and Mounk). They proceeded to ask the same question to a group of people who were born prior to World War II, they answered that “on a scale of one to ten, 72 percent assigned living in a democracy a ten, the highest possible value”(Foa and Mounk).

In the two cases previously mentioned did not specify if the individuals surveyed were part of the minority or of the majority communities. Its focus was on the difference between generations, with that respect we have to wonder if it even matters what community we are part of. People should simply use let their voice be heard.

When we are young we are given praise when we do something good and reprimanded when we do something wrong. As a result we grow up to be pillars of a community, each and every one of us. The same goes for our elected political actors. When they act in the interest of their community they should be given reassurance that they did the right thing, and should they fall off the path intended they should be reminded that they were elected to act in the interest of the community they represent. At the same time we as a civil society cannot simply sit back and complain about something when we do nothing to fix it. If there is one thing I will always say is “tell me what I am doing wrong so that I may fix it”. If people do not they are doing something wrong they cannot fix it, therefore it is our job as a society to stand up and speak out.

“We don’t really have a representative democracy if we don’t have participation of most of our people.” — Pat Mansard

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