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When people think about the United States, the things that come to there is that it’s the land where opportunities can happen, the land of the free, and rights. Does the country really have unlimited rights and freedom to do whatever you want? Is the country really a democracy? Democracy has its drawbacks. In a democracy the people have the power, and they can elect representatives. This country there are divided views. Times are changing in the country and some of the rights of that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are being gradually taken away.
Today the United States is still a divided nation. The Federalist article, “Sorry, Liberals, But America Is Not A Democracy, And It’s Better That Way”, by Clifford Humphrey, talks about the problems in this so called “democratic” government. Humphrey mentions the phrase “We the people” and says how the people disagree more and more about the meaning of that means. He says that the disagreement is due to the fundamental differences between democracy and republic. “Our Founders did not believe that the people have a right to enact whatever laws the majority necessarily want, but, rather, that the people have the right to enact whatever laws the people as a whole think are just”, says Humphrey. The government has been the opposite of the founding fathers believed. There are many laws that many people disagree on. According to Humphrey, the founding fathers favored republic as the form of government than democracy.
The Hill article, “The United States is not a democracy – and it wasn’t meant to be one”, by Timothy Snowball talks how the country is not a democracy. According to Snowball, some advocates of democracy have talked about getting rid of things like the electoral college, blocking the “unpopular” supreme court justices, and rather than retaining equal representation, they want the representation in the U.S. Senate to be state populations. This is a problem because each state gets represented in the Senate, and the electoral college ensures that candidates elected to the presidency do not only have the support of populated big cities, but also throughout the whole country. Snowball said the government of the United States was never intended to be fully democratic. Snowball stated that the supreme court is the least democratic institution. The judges serve for life and are elected by presidents. Snowball mentioned a quote by Abraham Lincoln from his speech in 1856 “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles.” Snowball ended the article by saying that the people rule through institutions because it was created to protect the citizens from the tyranny of the majority.
In a democracy the people are supposed to have the power, but there are laws that are limiting our rights. The Atlantic article, “America Is Not a Democracy: How the United States lost the faith of its citizens—and what it can do to win them back”, by Yascha Mounk explains about how “the levers of power are not controlled by the people”. The average American doesn’t really have a huge impact on public policy. Mounk mentioned that “public policy does not reflect the preferences of the majority of Americans”. If it did, the country would look more different than today. Mounk listed how it would in the article, marijuana would be legal everywhere, campaign contributions would be more securely regulated, paid parental leave would be law, public colleges would be free, the minimum wage would be higher, gun controls would have more restrictions, and abortion would be easier to get in the early stages of pregnancy or illegal. Mounk cited that “the United States was founded as a republic, not a democracy”. Like the previous articles mentioned that this country was never intended to be a pure democracy.
One of the issues that there is in the United States is the ill-informed citizens. In an article, “The Ignorant Voter”, by Jared Meyer, he interviews Ilya Somin about the voters that are politically uninformed and what that means for public policies and democracy. According to Somin “about 34 percent of Americans can even name the three branches of government: executive legislative, and judicial”. Many people don’t know about what goes on in government. Some do not know the basic information about politics. Somin compares pollution and political ignorance. He uses the example of one car makes a small difference but having more cars can cause a massive problem to the environment. The ill-informed citizens, or voters, is the pollution to political process. To have an effective democracy, the citizens have to be informed about politics and public policies. Some citizens make decisions about issues that they do not know because they are not educated enough, or the government does not provide all of the information they need.
The United States form of government was never meant to be a democracy. The founding fathers wanted it to be a republic because they had a fear that it would lead to monarchy or tyranny. One might argue that the United States is a democracy, but it is not. People who are for democracy argue about getting rid like the electoral college, or the representation in the Senate. Some want to also get rid of American institutions. As Snowball said, these institutions were created for reason. The people rule through them so that it could protect the citizens from the tyranny of the majority. In my opinion, to have a strong democracy, I believe that the citizens need to know the basics of government and need to be informed on public policies so that can make the decisions.
- Meyer, Jared. “The Ignorant Voter.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 June 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/jaredmeyer/2016/06/27/american-voters-are-ignorant-but-not-stupid/#9c761197ff17.
- Mounk, Yascha. “America Is Not a Democracy.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 31 Jan. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/03/america-is-not-a-democracy/550931/.
- Humphrey, Clifford. “Sorry, Liberals, But America Is Not A Democracy, And It’s Better That Way.” The Federalist, 7 Feb. 2018, https://thefederalist.com/2018/02/07/sorry-liberals-america-not-democracy-better-way/.
- Snowball, Timothy. “The United States Is Not a Democracy – and It Wasn’t Meant to Be One.” The Hill, 30 Oct. 2018, Https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/413142-the-united-states-is-not-a-democracy-and-it-wasnt-meant-to-be-one.
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