Jay McCarthy over at makeoutcity.com notes a couple of interesting pieces that highlight the mystical regard in which some hold democracy. He links to James Wilson who writes about the power of the Constitution:
The Constitution is powerless against the claims and wants of the people, especially if those wants are moral and religious in nature yet cloaked in secular, "public good" language. No Constitution can protect the people from a charming demagogue that the people themselves support.
If the ethics and the faith of the vast majority of the people favor liberty and decentralization, they will get it and enjoy it regardless of what a Constitution says. But if they want to control other people in other places through the National State, they will get that also, regardless of the paper restraints on the government. And if the people are indifferent, the government will recognize that as well. [...]
I'd rather fight for liberty rather than for a Constitution, just as I'd rather give my life to God than to the State.
The Constitution is a procedure, a means to an end and not an end unto itself. We'd do well to remember that.
NPQ [New Perspective Quarterly]: Mustn’t a state be democratic to develop?
FUKUYAMA: Well, before you have democracy you have to have government. Period. You have to have a functioning state that can, first of all, provide security and the economic basics. It can be authoritarian and still develop. Most of East Asia has done well under authoritarian governance. It is only over the longer term as the society grows more prosperous and there are greater social demands for participation that not having democracy becomes problematic from a development standpoint.
The cutoff is usually about $6,000 per capita. At that point a country has usually transformed itself from an agricultural, raw-materials-exporting country to a largely urban, industrialized one.
As I've argued before, voting is not a right. Democracy is useful, but only as a tool to protect our essential rights, such as speech, thought, religion, assembly, self-defense, and so forth. Voting, like the Constitution that defines and protects it, is morally neutral -- we can only judge it based on the results it delivers.