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Ranciere claims within his chapter, Does Democracy Mean Something?, that there exists a democratic paradox as such: “democracy as a form of government is threatened by democracy as a form of social and political life and so the former must repress the later. Democratic life leads to a political excess that works only to undermine a central government, authority, and good policy. This excess of democratic activity is a result of the “democratic dreamers”, overvaluing their personal demands and interests rather than accepting the discipline and sacrifice required in a government expressing common interests.

Democratic dreamers are the part of the population who believe government should express democracy by representing the concept of “government of the people by the people.” This mentality in fact promotes democratic social life rather than a democratic government. If each and every individual’s personal political interests were expected to be met, all authority and notions a collective interest would be constantly challenged, throwing a government and society into political chaos.

Understanding Ranciere’s commentary on the nature of democracy as both a form of government and social life made me increasingly curious as to how this applies to the current democratic governments of the world, including my own. It appears, according to Ranciere, that the US government only operates successfully as a democracy by suppressing the freedom and chaos of democratic social life. US citizens seem to believe, however falsely, that they live in a democratic country. Excess political action certainly exists, from online political platforms and proposals to groups that exist despite extreme negative feedback such as the westborough Baptist church. Yet our government continues to operate successfully, and therefore, may not be acknowledging the political nature of its citizens to the extent they expect to be acknowledged. In this case, if we live by a democratic government, which successfully suppresses democratic life and avoids the political chaos it would engender, are many of us perhaps, as political citizens, living in an illusion of our own democratic power?