A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.
Between the NSA, the IRS, the AP, and the US Embassy, it is looking like a tough time for Democracy. Unfortunately any current scandal is simply an extension of a government refocused towards a propensity to redact the freedoms people before us fought to give our children. At this point can Syria turn out any better than Afghanistan? Than Iraq? For the last 80+ years, slowly, steadily, we have been building a government that can solve all our problems; we cannot act surprised that it tries to.
For those that know history, it is hard to not see what is happening as the slow silent exhale of the last breath of democracy.
The America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a ‘warm body’ democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens… which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it… which for the majority translates as ‘Bread and Circuses.’
‘Bread and Circuses’ is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure.