Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Democracy Bundle

Experts tell you to avoid negotiating over a bundled deal; instead break down the bundle and deal for each individual component. I couldn't help but think of this advice while watching "Meet The Press", where the topic was again focused on spreading democracy. What struck me is that democracy isn't a monolith as many seem to suggest, but it's really a bundle of many components. In the US, it's a bundle that typically consists of freedom (a framework which lets individuals act as they choose), representative democracy (a system for individual control over the government), capitalism (a right of private property) and the rule of law (a system of understood consequence management).

The Democracy bundle has always been built up component by component. The American founders had visions of an end state, but they negotiated over components and made tradeoffs when they put the Constitution together. And they relied greatly on some components that had been established prior to American independence.

Instituting the Democracy bundle has and will always be a messy affair, requiring tradeoffs and a long maturation process. We like to talk about Democracy as an end result, but a lot less time is spent discussing the necessary steps, component by component, to actually reach the end state. Implicit in such a discussion would be a realistic understanding of the cost, benefit and timeline.

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