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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!