Though the phrase "government by the people" was included in the Constitution in 1787 it took many years, numerous stuggles and a few amendments to ring true.
It still doesn't ring clear, unfortunately.
Citizens of the United States have many rights, but we have responsibilities as well, and some overlap. For example, we have the right to vote, but we also have the responsibility to vote.
Yes, if you choose to stay home and you fail to vote you are part of the problem. You keep us from having "government by the people," and it might just be my little old opinion, but I think it's one of the major problems we experience as a nation. Imagine how our national, state, and local elections would be impacted if every citizen chose to be responsible and exercised their right to vote.
In the beginning "government by the people" didn't ring true because large segments of the population were left off voting rolls and out of the process.
For the first sixty years or so our nation only allowed white males who owned property the vote. This meant only a very small percentage of the population had a voice in the government.