Essay on Fate of Democracy

Published: 2021/11/11
Number of words: 695

In the article What Future for Democracy by Helena Catt, the concept of democracy is evaluated in regards to what type of evolution is in store for it in the modern age. Catt first defines the necessary traits in a particular group in order for democracy to be functional and long-lasting. There are several important characteristics, including size and composition of the group as well as the complexity of the issues needing to be dealt with, but perhaps the most convoluted is the unity of the group. Catt claims that “underpinning the growth of democratic bodies is the need for people to feel that they are part of a community and want to take part in decision making for the group rather than attending to their individual needs. ” (Catt, 2020, p 139). This is a vital component of Catt’s theory on the future of democracy. The collective group must be aware of the role if they are in a participatory democracy and recognize that their decisions impact not only themselves but the group as a whole.

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Catt continues with the idea of government subsidization, allocating more power to the local and regional governments as the age of technology allows for the easier education and involvement of the public in the government. She brings up the many issues associated with balancing localization with efficiency and cooperation, using the construction of Northern Ireland’s system of assembly that accounts for governing at the internal, associated, and global levels. She analyzes the role of technology in a participatory democracy, such as the potential for widespread participation, and the likely drawbacks of this method. She explains the opponents of direct democracy bring up the argument that “many who vote on the issue do not understand it and that a complex issue must be compressed into a question for the vote” (Catt, 2020, p 144). This point is further complicated by the fact that elected officials may not have the necessary information to make educated decisions on complex issues any more than normal citizens. This raises the question of who is best suited to directly influence the decision making process- citizens who are most impacted by the issue, elected officials who have been briefly educated about the complexities, or experts who may not be chosen specifically by the populace?

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The solution to this question, as with many issues facing the future of democracy, is heavily dependent on the population of the governed body and the country itself. If there is a smaller, more cohesive body, participatory democracy is a more realistic option. If a country has rather dramatic social or ideological divides, the use of elected representatives may be the most appropriate response to ensure that decisions can be reached and executed with the necessary speed. In either case, having an educated citizenry is tantamount to success, particularly as modern issues are being increasingly complex. Catt seems hopeful that democracy will continue to spread its influence as it adapts to the modern age, and it is difficult to predict exactly whether this is a trend that is likely to continue, but an interesting point to note has to do with the current political climate. As elections and political decisions have become increasingly polarizing, at least in America, citizens are becoming less cohesive and incapable of separating themselves from their political choices. An article from the Furman Center claims that a vote for a particular candidate says more about the voter than it does the candidate (Greer, 2017), and this holds true to today. While the institution of democracy is still holding firm, it is an interesting development to keep in mind as we evaluate for the future. Should things continue to develop on their current course, we may have to fundamentally change the idea of democracy to maintain use of it in a divided nation.


Catt, H. (2020). What Future for Democracy, Turbulent Times (pp.47-54). Cognella, Inc.

Greer, C. (2017, March). A Nation Divided Still: How a Vote for Trump Says More about the Voter than the Candidate Himself. NYU Furman Center.

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