OK…we need a show of hands…who loves today’s Wonder of the Day? If you raised your hand, you voted “Yes!” for Wonderopolis. Thank you! We appreciate your votes.

Every time you visit Wonderopolis, your visit is like a vote of confidence in Wonderopolis. Each visitor gets counted and we use that data to learn which Wonders of the Day are the most popular.

Sometimes people vote on other types of things. If your classroom has a choice of playing kickball or volleyball at recess, you may be asked to vote for which sport you’d rather play. Whichever sport gets the most — the majority — of votes is the sport that gets played at recess. That’s democracy in action.

Of course, the voting that democracy makes possible is expressed most powerfully when we as citizens vote for the leaders who will represent us in our government. The word “democracy” itself means “rule by the people.” It comes from the Greek words demos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”).

A democracy is a form of government in which the people ultimately hold the power. Other types of governments may put power in the hands of one person, such as a king or queen, or a small group of people.

There are different types of democracies. A direct democracy allows all citizens to vote directly on issues. As you might expect, direct democracies aren’t that common. Can you imagine if every single piece of legislation that passes through Congress each year had to be put up for a popular vote of all the people in the United States?

Such a system would be unworkable, which is why there are also indirect democracies. In an indirect democracy, the people vote to elect representatives who will then make decisions on their behalf.

For example, the United States is an indirect democracy. In particular, it’s a representative democracy, known as a Republic, in which elected representatives vote on the important issues of the day after being elected by the people they represent.

Unfortunately, not all governments around the world embrace the idea of democracy. Through the efforts of the United Nations, democratic principles are being championed around the world. Why is it so important? According to the United Nations, “[d]emocracy provides an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.”

When the people have the right to vote for their representatives, they can ensure that their rights as human beings are effectively defended and supported by their government. Having a voice in government is important, and democracy gives people that voice they desire!

10 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (18 votes, avg. 3.83 out of 5)
  1. HAPPY 4TH OF JULY WONDEROPOLIS! :D Are you excited? ;)

    I think tomorrow’s wonder is that Why do your ears pop on an airplane?

    BTW, we will do a lot of fireworks and sparklers tonight. It is not for sure if we will or not because we’re supposed to have thunderstorms all day and all night. :( :( :( :( :( Please have all your wonder friends pray so it won’t thunderstorm at nightime.

    TJ :)

    • Happy 4th of July to you, TJ! We hope you have a spectacular time with your friends and family tonight, and we hope the rain stops! Be safe with those sparklers Wonder Friend!

      See you tomorrow! :)

  2. Hi, Wonderopolis! I liked today’s wonder a lot! My family won’t be doing fireworks, but I am not sure why. My parents have not let us go to any for a couple years. Today, we went to the mountain and harvested the herb, and it is a yellow flower called St. John’s wart. It is a weird name! Happy 4th of July!! Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

    • Happy 4th of July, Berkleigh! We are so glad you told us about your awesome time in the mountains! We’ve heard of St. John’s Wort before, and it sounds like you had a great time harvesting the yellow flower. What a cool experience!

      Thanks for visiting us today and sharing your comment! We love hearing about your WONDERful adventures! :)

    • Yes they are, Trista! It is important that everyone have a voice in their government. Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a democracy?
  • What does democracy mean?
  • Do you live in a country with a democratic government?

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Try It Out

Would you vote for today’s Wonder of the Day as one of your favorites? Find a friend or family member to help you explore one or more of the following activities:

  • What type of government does your country have? If you live in the United States, you already know the answer. But what about if you live in another country? Extend your learning today by learning all you can about the government of a country other than your own. You could pick out a country you’ve always wanted to visit or choose one that happens to be in the news right now for some reason. Use the Internet to learn all you can about how the government of your chosen country works. Would you rather live under that country’s form of government? Why or why not?
  • Does a democracy mean you always get your way? Talk to your parents about the results of recent elections. Did the candidates they voted for win? If not, were they disappointed? If your candidate doesn’t win, will your views be adequately represented? Why or why not? What other ways exist in a democracy to make your views known to elected representatives?
  • If you live in a democracy, such as the United States, you will be able to vote one day when you’re old enough. Until then, you might still be able to participate in other forms of democracy. Is your family a democracy? It probably isn’t all the time, as parents tend to make most of the decisions when their children are younger. However, from time to time, your parents may let the entire family vote on an issue, such as what to have for dinner or what movie to see. Do you like it when they do that? Does it make you feel like you have a say in what happens? That’s what democracy is like! What about your classroom? Is it a democracy? Probably not! Most classrooms are benevolent dictatorships (just ask your teacher what that means!), which is probably a good thing. How much learning do you think would take place if students were always voting to go outside for recess?

Still Wondering

Visit EDSITEment! to check out the Voices of Democracy project, which is designed to promote the study of great American speeches and public debates. The emphasis of the project is on the actual words of those who, throughout American history, have defined the country’s guiding principles, debated the great social and political controversies of the nation’s history, and shaped the identity and character of the American people.

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