Anyone who lives in a democracy has probably heard Winston Churchill's assessment of it. In 1947, he told the House of Commons, "(D)emocracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

As it turns out, that Churchillian aphorism was uttered first by someone else, still unknown. However, it has stood the test of time. Now, we will see whether people still believe it. This is the year democracies around the world are being put to the test.

The Associated Press notes that more than 50 nations will hold elections this year. Half of the world's population lives in them. "The year looks to test even the most robust democracies and to strengthen the hand of leaders with authoritarian leanings," the A.P. reports.

The election that has the world most nervous is scheduled for November 5 in the United States. Ex-president Donald Trump will try to take the office back from incumbent Joe Biden. Biden beat Trump in 2020, but Trump complains Biden was stolen from him. Millions of Americans still believe in him.

Trump has not been bashful about what he'll do if he wins. He intends to be a totalitarian and use the tools of government to punish his critics and enemies. He plans to pardon himself for 91 federal crimes with which he's been charged and pardon his supporters who've been convicted and jailed for participating in the 2021 insurrection.

However, Trump isn't waiting. He has already created a reign of terror in the United States by using his own social media site to fire invective at judges, jurists, court staff, prosecutors, and witnesses in his trials. Trump's armed and militant supporters follow up by sending his "persecutors" death threats.

Although he is now a citizen with no official powers, Trump controls the U.S. Congress. He uses his millions of supportive voters to threaten members of Congress with election defeat if they defy him.

As a result, President Biden has made the survival of democracy the central pillar of his message this year. However, mere survival is not enough in America or many other nations. Democracy must be fixed. It is trouble because citizens are unhappy with it.

Two months ago, the prestigious Pew Research Center polled 24 countries. It found that government reform was among the top three issues in most of them. Greater government transparency, term limits for elected officials, and adjustments in the balance of power were the three most frequently mentioned changes people wanted.

Pew asked respondents to rank 17 issues about government. Corruption and the influence of special interests were in the top half. Other reforms ranged from eliminating the House of Commons in the U.K. to fixing Japan's amakudari system and achieving a less biased press in places like Hungary, Australia, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.

Respondents in several countries wanted constitutional reforms. Some citizens called for changing their entire political systems to keep democracy.

But the power of special interests was one of the most common themes. Mexico, the U.S., and Australia rated this among their top three interests, and most countries put it in the top half of the 17 issues.

In the United States, where I live, the problem is evident. The nation's highest court ruled several years ago that corporations have the same rights as individuals, and their campaign contributions are a form of free speech. The judges ruled naively that money gives special interests better access to elected officials but doesn't affect their votes. The result is legalized bribery of public officials.

The United States prides itself on government "of, by, and for the people." But more often, the federal government is of, by, and for moneyed interests. One of the most blatant examples has been the power of major oil and gas companies to keep the U.S. Congress from doing anything directly about global climate change since 1992, when Congress ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Global Climate Change.

More than six in 10 Americans told Pew that their communities are already being affected by climate change, but majorities say corporations, large businesses, and state and national officials are doing too little about it.

Last fall, only 36 percent of respondents in a U.S. poll said the American Dream was still alive. The country's big wealth gap is a reason, the pollster said. Only 19 percent said they believe their children's generation would be better off than their own.

The lesson I draw from this is that people would be more interested in preserving democracy if they were happy with it. Leaders must do a much better job proving that democracies and democratic governments serve their people. If they don't, we'll see more deplorable totalitarians like Donald Trump enter international politics with false promises that they'll make things great again.