Welcome to the Democracy Project at George Mason University!
This project is an exciting opportunity for our entire campus
community to reflect on the democratic principles, institutions,
and practices that have shaped our own nation and that of
other nations around the world.
People often comment that democracy is "the best form
of government," but why? What does the term democracy
really mean? We all know our rights, but what responsibilities
do we have as members of a "self-governing republic"?
What does it take to make democracy work as it should, and
are we all doing our part?
Contrary to popular belief, the terms "democracy"
and "republic" do not refer to two different forms
of government. They are simply Greek and Latin words for a
form of government through which the people govern themselves.
Taken literally "democracy" means rule by the people,
while "republic" means public thing. In American
society today, we tend to be very individualistic yet both
terms for self-government entail mutual participation
and decision-making the people shall rule, by attending
to their shared public life.
We live in a representative democracy, so voting is very
important. That is how we exercise our popular sovereignty.
In order for the people to be sovereign, we need to choose
our own elected officials and hold them accountable to the
will of the people.
In its strongest sense, however, democracy entails a lot
more than simply voting on Election Day. It also requires
us to take an active role in helping to solve public
problems, which requires us to think seriously and critically
about what goes on in our communities and the world around
us. So the question for each of us becomes: What principles
do I believe in and what am I doing to take responsibility
for the way things are on my campus, in my community, my country,
and our shared world?
Because of the nature of our community at Mason, we've opted
to call ourselves the Democracy Project unmodified (rather
than the American Democracy Project) in order to broaden our
focus and recognize both our large international student population
and the diversity of American students at Mason. We hope that
everyone on our campus will take an active role in making
democracy stronger and better.
Please join me in continuing the exciting work that Mason's
Democracy Project has begun over the course of the last few
years. If you want to get involved, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Associate Professor of Political Theory
ADP Campus Coordinator