Is democracy a failure?
If you look at how the North Carolina state budget has been conceived and presented, you'd have to conclude that democracy doesn't work. If democracy worked, the General Assembly would have a rational, transparent procedure for bringing together the interests of all 170 members of the legislature who would all serve the interests of their constituents who elected them to office.
But it hasn't worked quite that way. When the House and Senate passed conflicting versions of the state budget, the differences should have been resolved by a committee representing both chambers whose members would compromise on the differences in the two versions.
That's not exactly what happened. A handful of senators and representatives met behind closed doors and hashed out a compromise of sorts, but they also radically changed many provisions of law that were not, strictly speaking, part of the budget and had not been part of either chamber's budget bill. The provisions fundamentally changed state policies (including shuffling departments of state government) and even arbitrarily killed a long-planned light rail service without any public debate on the provision.
You can call these changes dictatorial or arbitrary or oligarchical or contemptuous, but you can't really call it democracy. What went on behind closed doors in Raleigh these past couple of weeks had little to do with democracy.