As democracy steadily spreads and flourishes across the globe, It might lead one to analyze just what a democracy really is; and living in the United States of America, arguably the worlds most functional and thorough democracy, It becomes one's duty to understand the mechanics of democracy in order to preserve its integrity. .
Many Americans are under the assumption that Democracy is a fairly new idea when in fact it is an ancient idea that has been formed, contemplated, and refined for over twenty five hundred years (Dahl, 3). Since its formation in small scattered civilizations, through its manifestations in ancient Greece and Rome, all the way to the current faces of democratic society around the world today, the system has been refining its boundaries and the premises on which it was built. In its essence, a democracy is a society of the people that is ruled by the people. The citizens of a democratic state or country exercise a control over their own lives, laws, and destinies. In Robert Dahl's book "On Democracy", he outlines his view of what the fundamental principals of a democracy are. .
A democracy provides for the effective participation of all its citizens (Dahl, 38). This is, perhaps, the most fundamental idea. It implies that every citizen, each with their own personal ideas, concerns, and perspectives can have a voice in setting the rules that they must abide by. This theme of, in a sense, being one of the rulers (participating in government) instead one of the ruled (as in a dictatorship) is the central concept that is supported and upheld by the other principals of democracy. In ancient Greece, where the term democracy was coined, all of the members of the city-state would gather in a central arena to discuss the topics of interest at the time and everyone had the opportunity to contribute, as they saw fit, to the dialog that would eventually determine an aspect of their life.