Democracy, in the full sense of the word, will
always be no more that an ideal. In this sense, you too are merely approaching democracy.
But you have one great advantage: you have been approaching democracy uninterruptedly for
more than 200 years, and your journey toward the horizon has never been disrupted by a
totalitarian system. Vaclav Havel, President, Czech Republic, 21 Feb 1990
A casual observation seems to indicate that democracy is
thriving in America. Despite this, several of the aforementioned elements are undermining
the stability of our governmental system and preventing democracy from reaching its
potential fullness. Lack of citizen participation and radical individualism are two such
problems. Individualism is a feeling of autonomy, self-sufficiency, and detachment from
others. Ayn Rand expresses this sentiment: "I came here to say that I do not
recognize anyones right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor
to any achievement of mind
I came here to say that I am a man who does not exist for
others" (Hudson 69). Individualism, viewed by many Americans as a heroic quality, is
a positive quality, but too much of it can be destructive in a democratic environment.
Many times individualism leads to selfishness, which is incompatible with democracy, a
government "of the people." People must work together in such a government to
accomplish mutual goals and better the collective state of society (Tocqueville 192-194).