In a small tribe, where pretty much everyone knows everyone else (and their ancestors) one could elect one person to rule over all; he is in a simple sense, first amongst equals, for all the members of the tribe.
Plato discusses Democracy in a Polis. Already there he deplores it as a fall from Aristocracy.
In some sense I agree with him, why would I not want to be ruled by the best?
Is part of his argument against democracy, is the scale of the city?
President Obama, is surely first amongst his cabal, but not amongst surely all his citizens; despite the appearance of this, by the modern public relations industry.
Can Democracy scale to the size of medium sized country, say like France; can it scale ever to a sub-continent sized country, such as the states?
If they are not democracies, then what are they? Is calling them representative democracies a fig-leaf, are they in fact something else?