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

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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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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