Sample Classic English Literature Argumentative Essay on The United States today is a less democratic society than Ancient Athens

Thesis statement

Democracy is regarded as one of the most important part of good governance and economic development. For democracy to prevail in any nation, the political, administrative actions and substantive policy must correspond with the expressed wishes of a majority of citizens. Today, United States of America portrays itself as a less democratic society as compared to the ancient Athens during Pericles’s time.


The term “democracy” was coined by the Greeks to mean “rule by the people”. In essence, the term “democracy” refers to a government by the people, exercised either directly or elected representatives and ruled by the majority (Sinclair 1). A nation is regarded to be democratic if the acts of the government are in direct correspondence to the wishes of a large percentage of the citizens. This term was formulated as a solution of alleviating people from the continuous abuse of power by the leaders. Democracy ought to be demonstrated by the government through three of its branches namely; the judicial, legislative, and executive arms of the government. Democracy can also be demonstrated through the act of citizenship where the citizens are freely allowed to express themselves and their opinions to matters that affect the entire nation. Today’s democracy in United States is a positive progression of the ancient Athens democracy. Even though the American democracy was greatly influenced by the Athenian democracy, the current state of democracy is dissimilar to the ancient Athenian democracy.

Democracy in the United States Today

The Ancient Greek also regarded as the founders of democracy demonstrated the apect of democracy in a plethora of ways. For starters, the Athenians people ruled themselves directly through votes in a popular assembly. This meant that the citizens of Athens could freely express their democratic rights as they were allowed to participate in the voting process.  It was the primary duty and responsibility of every Athenian citizen to participate in the political affairs of the Athens. Any person who would evade his or her responsibility of being an Athenian citizen would be labeled as an “idiote”. Thus, each and every citizen was expected to first prioritize the national affairs even before their own private life issues. According to Thucydides (Osborne 32),

“An Athenian citizen does not neglect the state because he takes care of his household, and even those of us who are engaged in business have a very fair idea of politics. We alone regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as harmless, but as a useless character”.

Approximately 6,000 18 and above year old Athenian citizens could be accommodated in the Athenian general assembly. In this assembly, the citizens would hold debates on some of the vital issues affecting the nation before casting their votes (Osborne 29).  These citizens were also given the key responsibility of being able to create and amend laws affecting the entire nation.

The Athenian electoral system greatly differs with the current American’s electoral system where a person is elected through the electoral votes. This is clearly depicted by the most recent held elections where even though the elected president won through the Electoral College, he did not get the most popular vote. The Electoral College is defined as a process consisting of selected 538 electors. In order for a candidate to be eventually referred to as presidential elect, he or she must have attained at least 270 votes from the electors. On the other hand, the popular vote constitutes the entire votes casted by the citizens of the United States. This clearly depicts that only 538 citizens within the United States are able to greatly influence the outcome of the election results. This totally contradicts the Athens demonstration of democracy where at least 6,000 Athenians could make sound judgment by voting for their most suitable leader. The selectors in the Electoral College are usually selected after passing certain merits. This displays a picture of inequality as majority of the citizens’ voices and opinions never get to be heard even after casting down their votes on the ballot boxes. To add to this, the Athenian citizens elected their leaders through lottery with the intent of preventing any influence from outside interferences.

In Athens, the 6000 citizens who would normally meet at the general assembly were also given the powers to formulate new rules and regulations that would meet the needs of the people. The citizens, most of who were of male gender, were allowed to propose and debate on new laws. Since most of these laws would affect the citizens of Athens, the debates were held to ensure that there was clarity and valid reasons as to why the laws are necessary for the Athenian citizens. Before the proposed laws were finally accepted as laws, each of the 6,000 citizens in the general assembly had to cast a vote (Sinclair 20). Casting a vote was either done by ballot or by writing certain inscriptions. During that particular age and time, citizens demonstrated their democratic rights by being able to propose accept and make laws that they thought would be convenient for their lives.

On the contrary, the citizens of the United States are not obliged to take part in making of the laws. Even though these laws are bound to affect the American citizens, the legal department is the only ones who are allowed to propose and change the laws. Thus, today’s American democracy limits the power of the citizens in making their own choices with regards to making of new laws or even in amending the old laws. The responsibility of making new laws is thus left to a few people, most of who do not fully represent the citizens of America. Additionally, a vast majority of the Athenian citizens had full information of their country’s welfare. This is because of the fact that there had been free communication between the leaders and the citizens. Unlike in Athens, the citizens of America are less aware of their country’s welfare inclusive of why America was in Iraq or Afghanistan. The average American citizens would know little concerning their country’s involvement in another nation due to limited communication between the government and the citizens.

In addition, not every citizen of Athens was required to pay taxes. Direct taxes which were levied from time to time was restricted to citizens belonging to a specific social class (Sinclair 21). This is unlike in America where every citizen, regardless of wealth or poverty status, is obliged to pay taxes. Thus, democracy in Athens demonstrated the act of reducing poverty and enhancing economic growth and development.

Even though Athens portrays a picture of being more democratic than United States, there are certain factors that are quite undemocratic. For instance, the Athenian democracy was exclusive due to the fact that the male citizens were the only ones who were given the right to vote and participate in the general assembly. Women, children and slaves were never allowed to participate in making electoral decisions. Discrimination was also a persistent issue that was practiced among the Athens citizens who would treat the non-citizens unfairly. The non-citizens of Athens included; the slaves, the women and children (Sinclair 36). On the other hand, the men were given citizenship immediately after their birth. However, in America, every person in spite of gender, religion or class differences is considered to be equal to any other American citizen.


In conclusion, the United States of America is less democratic as compared to the Ancient Athens due to the main factor of citizens being prohibited into participating in national matters such as law making.

Works Cited

Osborne, Robin. Athens and Athenian Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Sinclair, R K. Democracy and Participation in Athens. Cambridge, GBR: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Internet resource.