The passage given below is followed by four alternate summaries. Choose the option that best captures the essence of the passage.
Petitioning is an expeditious democratic tradition, used frequently in prior centuries, by which citizens can bring issues directly to governments. As expressions of collective voice, they support procedural democracy by shaping agendas. They can also recruit citizens to causes, give voice to the voteless, and apply the discipline of rhetorical argument that clarifies a point of view. By contrast, elections are limited in several respects: they involve only a few candidates, and thus fall far short of a representative democracy. Further, voters’ choices are not specific to particular policies or laws, and elections are episodic, whereas the voice of the people needs to be heard and integrated constantly into democratic government.
The given passage discusses the role of petitioning in democratic governance; it highlights how petitioning can shape political agendas, recruit citizens to causes, give voice to the voteless, and apply the discipline of rhetorical argument to clarify points of view. The passage also compares petitioning to elections, stating that petitioning supplements the electoral process and enables ongoing engagement with the government. The author does not make a judgment about the relative superiority of petitioning or elections, but rather focuses on the specific ways in which petitioning can contribute to democratic functioning. Option C accurately summarizes the points discussed above.
Option A is incorrect because the passage does not state that petitioning is "an ideal form of representative democracy." It only mentions that petitioning can give voice to the voteless and apply the discipline of rhetorical argument, but it does not make a broader claim about the superiority of petitioning over other forms of democracy.
Option B is incorrect because the passage does not suggest that citizens are becoming less inclined to petitioning. In fact, the passage does not address the prevalence of petitioning in contemporary times at all.
Option D is incorrect because the passage does not state that petitioning is more representative of the collective voice than elections. It only mentions that petitioning can give voice to the voteless, but it does not make a comparison to elections in this regard. The passage also does not suggest that the functioning of democratic government would necessarily improve if we relied more on petitioning instead of holding periodic elections; it simply states that petitioning has been important to democratic functioning in the past, and that it supplements the electoral process by enabling ongoing engagement with the government.