Democracy, Inclusion, and Prosperity

It is a truism that people everywhere want to live in a safe, prosperous country where they enjoy freedom of thought and action, and can exercise the right to choose their government. But the world faces a disarming question in 2017 and the years ahead: how can we be sure that political freedom and economic prosperity go together?

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CHICAGO – It is a truism that people everywhere want to live in a safe, prosperous country where they enjoy freedom of thought and action, and can exercise the democratic right to choose their government. But the world faces a disarming question in 2017 and the years ahead: how can we be sure that political freedom and economic prosperity go together?

The American political scientist Francis Fukuyama has argued that liberal democracies, with their political freedom and economic success, have three important pillars: a strong government, the rule of law, and democratic accountability. I would add a fourth: free markets.

Strong government does not mean simply military power, or an efficient intelligence apparatus. Instead, it should mean effective, fair administration – in other words, “good governance.”

The rule of law means that a government will be constrained by what Indians would term dharma – by a widely understood code of moral behavior, enforced by religious, cultural, or judicial authority.