Democratic ideals is an expression used to refer to personal qualities or standards of government behavior that are felt to be essential for the continuation of a democratic policy. Advocates for causes across the political spectrum use this expression in attempting to engage in persuasion, particularly by contrasting some situation which has been allowed to continue for pragmatic or social reasons, but which those advocating an opportunity, and that equality is a democratic ideal. Other times, advocates of one political outlook or another will use the expression to energize support among their constituencies, despite knowing that their political opponents use precisely the same phrase to do precisely the same thing.
While democracy was rare before modern times, democratic ideals were originally conceived by ancient philosophers and were implemented in early examples of democracies such as Athens. In the 20th century, T. H. Marshall proposed what he believed to be central democratic ideals in his seminal essay on citizenship, citing three different kinds of rights: civil rights that are the basic building blocks of individual freedom; political rights, which include the rights of citizens to participate in order to exercise political power; and finally social rights, which include the right to basic economic welfare and security. Frequently the importance of human rights is listed as a central democratic ideal, as well as instilling in military and civilian governmental personnel the attitudes and methods which will prevent their actions from infringing on those rights. The United States Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States is a prime example of the democratic ideal of human rights and liberties being implemented in the foundation of a country's governance. These individual freedoms include freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial. Voter enfranchisement and political participation are two key democratic ideals that ensure the engagement of citizens in the political sphere. Who has the right to suffrage has changed over the centuries and universal suffrage is necessary for a nation to be considered a democracy and not a dictatorship.
Other uses of the term
In historical texts, the phrase is often used to denote aspirations or norms of behavior, separate from a functioning democracy, including egalitarianism, self-government, self-determination and freedom of conscience.
- Zvesper, John (April 2004). "Republicans Must Emphasize Their Democratic Ideals". Ashbrook. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
- "DENTON COUNTY DEMOCRATS". Archived from the original on May 7, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
- Jones, A. H. M. “The Athenian Democracy and Its Critics.” The Cambridge Historical Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, 1953, pp. 1–26. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3021105. Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.
- 1. Oser J, Hooghe M. Democratic ideals and levels of political participation: The role of political and social conceptualisations of democracy. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations. 2018;20(3):711-730. doi:10.1177/1369148118768140
- Maginnis, Robert L. (September 12, 1999). "The Foundations Of Human Rights". Thought You Should Know. Missing or empty
- Colin L. Powell (May 17, 2004). "New Report Shows U.S. Work for Human Rights, Powell Says". Archived from the original on November 19, 2004. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
- Cummings, Briana (May 2004). "A Tame Revolution? Explaining Soldiers' Restraint Toward Civilians in the American War of Independence". Harvard Graduate School of Education. Archived from the original on July 9, 2004. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
- Amar, Akhil Reed. “The Bill of Rights as a Constitution.” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 100, no. 5, 1991, pp. 1131–1210. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/796690. Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.
- Burger, Warren E. “America's Bill of Rights at 200 Years.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 3, 1991, pp. 453–457. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27550765. Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.
- Warren, Mark E. “What Can Democratic Participation Mean Today?” Political Theory, vol. 30, no. 5, 2002, pp. 677–701. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3072498. Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.