5 Ways Democracy is Still Limited In America

5 Ways Democracy is Still Limited In America

America is not the greatest democracy in the world and here are some of the causes
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In 1869, the 15th amendment was passed and ratified by congress which guaranteed all men the right to vote regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude. Women would go another 51 years, 145 years in total since the country's conception, until they were granted their suffrage. It wouldn't be for another 4 years that this continent's original inhabitants and victims of the biggest genocidal event got their citizenship and by proxy their right to vote. The restriction of those who were not economically well off was reduced when the poll tax was removed in 1964. Vietnam had changed the face of America and with it, young men began to question how they could be drafted into a war that they never approved of in the first place. This injustice would be rendered settled with the passing of the 26th Amendment which changed the voting age from 21 to 18. With all this stated it becomes evident that the democracy that has raised this country to great success has been evolving across the decade. To let it stagnate now would be a folly and a disservice to our country. As it stands today our country still has much to overcome when it comes to becoming a state by the people for the people and of the people.Poor

1. Poor Voter Turnout

"You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you." Due to the stigma that comes with the word communist it may be unwise to quote Leon Trotsky, however, his quote does bring to light the necessity for civil discourse. It may surprise you that the US only has on average a 48-64% total voter turnout rate. If we are supposed to be the greatest democracy on earth how come our citizens are staying home come election day. Perhaps it’s a lack of interest in politics altogether or this unwritten rule that talking about politics is rude and confrontational. Perhaps if the political discussion was brought back into the living room America would have a much more informed population.

2. Belonging to a Party

When comes down to it if you want any say over who will actually make it to November and run you need to affiliate yourself with a party. Both the Republican party and Democratic party use closed voting restrictions in many of their primary elections. In other words, if you don’t register with a party you can’t vote in the primary election. As it stands today about 44% of registered voters are independent in America. This is an enormous population of silenced voters who are constrained by the power of the system. If Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head chairwoman of the Democratic national party, had it her way all primaries would be closed to all non-Democrats. Even for those who do want to register with a party in order to vote for a particular candidate must do so months ahead of time. As was the case in the Democratic New York primary, many voters had not even heard of all the candidates until their time to register had passed.

3. Voting Day is on a Tuesday

Where the poll tax prevented the poor from having a voice in politics having the national voting day set for the Tuesday following the first Monday in November is disenfranchising the blue collared worker. Where some can give their boss a heads up that they might be a few minutes late, others do not have that option. President Obama has actually taken to the suggestion of a national voters day holiday in which everyone would by law have the day off from work in order to get out to the polling booths.

4. Superdelegates (Democratic Party)

The tweet above from former Vermont Governor Howard Dean sums up how superdelegates operate. Despite what the numbers might come out to after election day, the democratic party has high ranking party officials that can turn the nomination in any direction regardless of how their state voted.

5. Winner Take All States (Republican Party)

Hypothetically in the Republican primary if a state with a Winner Take All delegate distribution came out to 51% for candidate A and 49% for candidate B Candidate A would walk home with 100% of the delegates. This in its essences revokes the consideration of the other 49% of the voters who came out and cast their vote. There are 18 states that operate this way within the Republican primary. This controversy parallels that of the legitimacy of the electoral college in the open election. Such criticisms go back to the popular vote vs the electoral college in the Bush vs Gore race.

Cover Image Credit: The Nation

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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The Free Market Vs Government Argument Is A Myth to Hide the Flaws In Our Current System

The Free Market doesn't exist without government.

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I recently finished up a course regarding the working class and poverty in America.

The "free market" myth was a focal point as it was part of the core in terms of flaws within financial capitalism. We read "Saving Capitalism" by Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor where he lays out the corruption built into each building block of American capitalism, and how it's currently failing us.

Now get ready, because it's long but so important that the general public recognizes:

Before I continue, I should note that Reich is not anti-capitalism. He roots for it as the best system but explains what has happened over the decades to explain how we got to the point we are at, and referencing periods in the past where the system was working for the majority.

The main point here is that the corruption built into what was once a prospering system for the majority is now really only serving to benefit a different minority: the top 1%.

Reich breaks capitalism down into five pillars: property, monopoly, contract, bankruptcy, and enforcement.

Changes in legislation, and mainly interactions between big corporations, Wall Street banks and government have been in their favor, giving them the upper hand while simultaneously damaging average Americans and their bargaining power.

Within each of the pillars, he makes it a point to reiterate that the "free market" versus "free government" argument is a cover-up. It serves to mislead and blind because the politicians and big corporations debating this don't want the general public to understand that this is irrelevant; if they knew more, they would start to unravel the corruption, where it stems from, and how it intermingles. It makes it easier on these influential and powerful parties to spew this argument out to keep the real systematic problems out of sight.

Without government, the market wouldn't exist. It takes two.

Examples of changes within each of the five pillars represent the modern corruption:

Let's start with property. As technology has advanced and property now includes 'intellectual property,' requests for patents have increased. Reich highlights that there are even patents on the process of making certain drugs, which allow pharmaceutical companies to increase the price of their medications so high, that it's not even realistically available to most of the public who would need it.

In terms of monopolies, the intersection between economic and political power have created an uneven playing field that keep entrants and discoverers out of the market, lowering the number of entrepreneurial endeavors that could potentially come about if it weren't for these relationships.

Reich brings up the fact that natural processes are now monopolized as well. Monsanto farms, for example, is responsible for an enormous percentage of soybeans in the US will not allow others to know their "trade secrets"; they own a patent on biotechnology and their genetically modified seeds.

Consequently, consumers don't know what pesticides are being used, and it forces farmers to destroy thousands of dollars worth of seeds after each season because keeping any would be illegal under the rules that go along with the patent.

Contracts the 4th building block of American capitalism and as Reich puts it, they're capitalism's lifeblood. They exemplify another way the market is fixed by big corporations and government agencies because in many cases, the terms of contract agreements allow big corps an easy way out that is legal.

For example, Apple's terms and conditions are about 30 pages. Clicking "I agree" essentially means handing over your privacy rights, so no matter what may happen to your information, technically you agreed, so they're in the clear. They make it seem as though you really had a choice--as if every other smart device has if not the same, very similar terms.

Changes within contracts include employees at large corporations now having to sign non-compete clauses which limit their potential future job opportunities by prohibiting them from working at "rival companies." This further limits underprivileged Americans who don't have a degree by further limiting they're already narrow spectrum of potential jobs--an example of what keeps the poor, poor.

Bankruptcy was originally designed so that average Americans could start over, but now legislation has changed what types of things, and who can actually file for bankruptcy so that it's not available to those who would benefit from it most. Instead, many large corporations file for bankruptcy at the expense of workers and union members (workers costs are usually the first expense cut) while CEO salaries continue to rise.

Finally, enforcement isn't what it used to be, and funding for agencies that are responsible for enforcing policies. The IRS has been hollowed out significantly. This means reduced chances that unpaid taxes will be caught, and that the wealthy doing this will be audited. Legal fines are also insignificant for big business.

For example, Halliburton admitted to destroying evidence related to an oil spill disaster that made headlines, and their multi-billion dollar company was charged a mere $200,000. Fines have become just a part of conducting business for them.

You may be thinking "How is this happening?" and how big corporations get away with a mere slap on the wrist so often, while average Americans continue to struggle. Part of the answer lies in the fact that corporations often offer government officials positions once they're terms are up.

What does this do? Further ensures their financial, political and legal confidence. Remember the Monsanto example? Well, many of their past employees now have top positions at the FDA and agriculture department.

Campaign donations are another big factor. Big business and Wall Street banks donate millions to both sides, so no matter who "wins," they're agendas still have a good chance of being fulfilled. Don't even get me started on the millions spent in lobbying either.

All of this is going, and the top 1% continue to get richer, while many of their own average employees are struggling. Big business and banks paying their workers so low essentially means the rest of us are subsidizing large corporations for their refusal to pay their own workers a living wage.

There was a time when capitalism worked for the majority, with a large middle class living a comfortable life. In order to get back to that and have an economy that's sustainable in the long run, Reich says a reorganization is needed that will include changed laws on political contributions/job offers, bargaining power for the middle class, and perhaps most importantly... a denial of the "free market" vs "free government argument.

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