Winston Churchill has had some wonderful quips attributed to him, the one I like being about democracy being a terrible way to govern, but it being the best we have found so far. It contains the seeds of the tyranny of the majority, while being walled in by other tyrannies.
Little d democracy carries with it, I think, an obligation of all of the citizens to prevent one estate from becoming too powerful, whether on its’ own or in collusion with one of the others, even if the third estate is not participating, or it is suppressed with political contrivances such as horizontal fracturing.
America has pulled this off more or less for so long because the Founding Fathers were aware of the lessons of history in framing the Constitution. They were political geniuses, informed by the principles of the French Enlightenment, the practical aspects of history, and the economics of politics inherited from our English forefathers.
Democracy is and always has been a top down process. That the wealthy would defend their own liberties, rights and pursuits of happiness is a no brainer. Capitalism has always been a meritocracy, even before democracy was around, and so the first estate of one age is always under pressure from the first estate of the next, for the first estate is not static, nor are the other two, as those falling go somewhere into the other two estates.
It is these two things that have produced in America the greatest military and economic nation that has ever existed. That is in and of itself the meritocracy of that wedding of economic and political interests. Just looking at the last ten years it is easy to see just how hard it would be to knock this thing called America over. The resilience is derived from the will of the people to make it succeed, to bear any burden, and to pay any price in blood and treasure to insure its’ continued existence.
Democracy is, as BT noted, socialist in nature, it is inherent in the concept. But it is political socialism, not economic socialism although it can be made so and has been made so to various degrees in other places and in other times.
Capitalism survives and thrives under all sorts of tyrannies, with some serious constraints on individual liberty to pursue property, the more concentrated the power of the state becomes. America is by design built to constrain those concentrations of power, which if one estate fails to pay attention to, the other two will collude to concentrate in themselves, surprising out their own self interests, not malice towards the other. The last is political hackery, of the most obvious and odious of political chicanery, since all the peas are in the one pod.
America is unique in that its’ citizens are from all over the world, and usually concentrate themselves into a small enough area to exercise some political power and defend their own property and rights from encroachment by others until they become mainstreamed by time and custom. America is always in labor giving birth to the next generation of its’ civilization, and as we move into the global village America has made for itself, it will undergo more intensive pains.
No one that likes national sovereignty likes the idea of a global civilization because that is a child of society and the structure of society is a child of the state. Sometimes somethings are indeed older than their ma.
This is just my humble opinion, but I think a lot of peoples uneasiness is being aware of this and the lack of a historical or cultural precedent to achieve such a thing. As most mothers can attest, however, love bears all things, not bares all things.