A government is an institution or group of individuals governing a society, usually a nation. No government can be considered free-riding however, since it requires the consent of the governed through taxation. The ultimate ruler of a nation is its government. This form of government is usually called a Republic.
A republic has a separation of powers between the various organs of government. For instance, the executive is responsible for the formulation of policy and the enforcement of those policies. The legislature is given powers to pass laws and to regulate administrative functions. The supreme court is the final arbiter of disputes among citizens. In a representative democracy, the members of the legislature are elected for specific offices, with each representative acting as the representative of not only his/her party but also of the whole community.
Representation is an important feature of both representative democracy. Each political party uses its members to make decisions on behalf of its voters. Citizens feel they have a voice in making political power decisions through their representatives. They participate in decision making through voting. They can use their representative to make decisions concerning their community such as what religion to follow and what schools to fund.
The concept of democracy is a relatively recent development in human history. Ancient Athens was a representative democracy characterized by a constitutional polity based on a confederated town-state structure. Plato argued that a demos, which he believed was composed of a collection of small self-governing units within an overarching political system, was inherently unstable due to the fact that its members were not aware of who was making policy decisions. Thus, a demos was a mob at best and a social club of aristocratic politicians at worst. Plato hoped that by building an economical and political system in which all citizens knew their relative place in the pecking order, a demos would realize its true potential.
Aristotle argued that a demos is a group of individuals with similar interests and concerns who, because of being part of a larger community, share a common aim or goal. He believed that a demos is formed through a democracy, which involves a government composed of a demos and a representative democracy, which involves a representative government. Aristotle’s ideal government included a strong executive, a centralized national administration, and a free press. He thought that these things are essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society since a free press can hold powerful governments accountable. By contrast, a ruler in an Aristotlean political system will be selected by the demos, which may not include the demos.
A more radical version of an Aristotlean polity is represented by the syndicalism of Thomas Carlyle. His belief that a society should have common goods be the source of motivation for political action. His political treatise, called The Future of the Liberty of Man, advocated a strong executive and centralized national administration, complete with a national police force to protect the populace from tyranny. He also believed that a properly run government provides the seeds of happiness, whereas a corrupt government provides only poverty and misery. He advocated a comprehensive social welfare program to provide education, health care, and housing to all citizens.