You might find it interesting to do a search for democrcay on this page and read the posts related to it. You'll find lots of defintions and point, some mine.
My 'beef' with democracy is that its wrong in principle. Unlimited democracy is simply rule by force of the strongest mob (ie the most numbers). A dictatorship by majorities if you will. I see no 'good' in that.
But your point, that in America (and most of the democractic world) democracy means a tenuous link between you and those in power, is true.
If America was consistent in its application of the constitution and bill of rights then nearly every activity by todays government would be barred. It never was truly consistent and the cracks just keep getting wider.