I always tended to think of it as being "their" kind of society, that's to say that, unlike in totalitarian societies on earth, the majority of the population isn't behind it because of state propaganda or brainwashing, but because they like it that way. That's not to say the dissident movement isn't genuine, only to suggest that they're perhaps atypical for their race - like a Ferengi who isn't interested in profit. I prefer to think of Cardassians as a people who, unfathomably to humans, live in a dictatorial system out of choice, that they're comfortable with it; and they truly do prefer general order, however it's ensured, over personal freedoms. It makes things more intriguing. For much the same reason I never liked Rom becoming Nagus either. I loved the whole Ferengi female liberation theme and Moogie was a hoot!, but she was in actual fact being thoroughly Ferengi - she wanted a slice of the cake. I liked the idea of there being some planet where the pursuit of profit really is the highest moral good. There should be incompatible value systems! Of course all the different races are there to reflect on aspects of us, but on the level of the story in and of itself, a mere mirror isn't all they should be. You can make a point about the repression of totalitarian governments, or the evils of exaggerated greed, by contrasting these with Federation/human culture, without having all the "good and true" Cardassians/Ferengi secretly aspiring to be just like us.