In ancient Greece, people used to gather at a meeting place called Assembly where the citizens of Athens on a monthly basis discussed the affairs of state. The Greek government made no decisions without first asking the Assembly. This was called democracy.
Today, between the two forms of democracy, direct and representative, representative democracy is prevalent. However, this rule by the majority is not necessarily fair unless the permitted 51 percent of the population guarantees all rights of the remaining 49 percent. A representative democracy or rather constitutional democracy is required to limit the powers of the government and safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens. In such a society, the majority theoretically assumes responsibilities simply to prove they can render a better service to the nation.
Astonishingly, in Afghanistan there is a form of representative democracy called "Loya jirga", meaning a "grand council." For centuries, leaders in Afghanistan convened this Assembly to choose new kings, adopt constitutions, and decide important political matters and disputes.
In USA polling seems to be a form of participation of the concerned people. Of course, some experts believe that polling is a reliable sampling; some say it is simply a snapshot of a volatile view. Additionally polling requires more than right questions from the right person. However, the following excerpt can mean a lot:
Recently, Vice President Dick Cheney has offered a positive assessment of the current situation in Iraq, calling the surge a "major success." On March 19, 2008, in Oman, ABC News' Martha Raddatz told him the assessment was not in agreement with recent polls: about two-thirds of Americans did not endorse the fighting in Iraq. Cheney replied, "So?"
"You don't care what the American people think?" Raddatz asked the vice president.
"You can't be blown off course by polls," said Cheney.
Now, Iraq is again burning. USA openly states that the US forces in Iraq will be deployed in Afghanistan, to implement a more effective democracy than their time immemorial "Loya jirga".