Of course the question of how democratic the modern West really is can be debated; nonetheless, Williamson’s reflections are provocative:
The principle myth regarding democracy today is the democratic conviction that democracy is not only the best form of government, it is also the sole decent and humane one. People who think this way apparently believe also that all of the millions of people in the world who lived before the coming of the First Republic endured lives that were scarcely human, despite considerable evidence to the contrary. In fact, as I argue in After Tocqueville, there is no single best form of government, but only that form of government which is best suited to a particular time and place.
At the least, Williamson makes a good case against those who would treat democracy as a utopian religion.