The idea of democracy as it emerged gradually out of the Enlightenment, and drawing on ancient forms in Greece and Rome, is that the people govern themselves. People serve as the main determinants of the rules, laws, and legislation under which they live. They even set the rules concerning what people are allowed to do to themselves and each other using government: such is the point of a constitution.
In a representative democracy, we elect leaders who represent our interests in the halls of government. Crucially, the main point is not the election or even the right of masses of people to vote. Those are means to an end. The end is self-government, government by and for the people, which came to be seen in republican theory as a crucial feature of freedom itself.
Many totalitarian societies have figured out over time how to appear to be democratic without actually being so. When I was growing up, we used to laugh about how the Soviet people had a vote. What possibly could that mean or why would it matter in the slightest if the vote only ends up changing the face and name of the marionette on the balcony reading prepared propaganda?
We as Americans sneered at such a fake democracy. It exists in name only over there, whereas here we have the real thing!
Or so we thought. Every American must absolutely learn the lesson of these last 31 months.
They locked us in their homes, closed our churches and schools and businesses, restricted travel, segregated whole cities based on whether a person had taken a medicine like some kind of dystopian movement, wrecked the entire economy, and separated families by force.
Not one person in this entire country voted for a single one of these things to happen. It was never on the ballot. And for the most part, the elected leaders in this country were not the main actors in this. They gave approval to be sure but mainly because most of them are deeply ignorant, easily led, and deeply scared.
The main actors were people who were never elected. They were appointed bureaucrats. Most of them cannot be fired. They have permanent jobs with high income and benefits. They have vast power, more power it seems than the politicians and certainly more power than you. Indeed they have awesome power over you. And over everything, to the point that they can say whether you can go to church or not or whether your children can play with friends.
Not even the courts can act fast enough to control them and stop them from exercising total power over our lives.