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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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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My First Political Debate Experience Only Revealed The Messed-Up Reality Of American Partisan Pandering

More sinister than fake news, more timeless than Trump and Kavanaugh, the deceit and radicalization of modern politics is poisoning America.

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Given my age (almost 16 and a half!) and my nonpartisan perspective on most issues, it's rare that I attend any politically motivated function (much less in person). Unfortunately, my first taste of official political discourse only encapsulated everything I dislike about American politics.

Upon learning that my high school was hosting a debate between two candidates for the district's representative position, I was immediately intrigued. Admittedly, I had my expectations set high. I had jotted down "House Rep. Debate" on my calendar a week in advance and marked off the days the event neared. I would finally get to learn firsthand about the issues affecting my community and about the people with plans to fix them.

To a certain extent I got what I had hoped for, but certainly not in the environment I had anticipated.

When the student moderators introduced the candidates, Democrat Angelika Kausche and Republican Kelly Stewart, to the stage, it was already abundantly clear how ideologically distinct the two opponents would be.

The first question, which asked each candidate to describe how their views aligned with their party's platform, revealed just how cut-and-dry the candidates were at representing their respective factions. On the left, an unwavering conservative with a keen avoidance of overspending and socialist policies. On the right, an equally grounded liberal with a passion for tackling humanitarian injustices and enforcing moral correctness.

This circumstance certainly isn't unprecedented, but the rest of the night only proved how their narrow-minded partisan loyalty served as barriers to productive discourse.

Right off the bat, Kausche avoided the clearly stated question by taking the time to thank the John's Creek Community Association for hosting the event.

Stewart, however, dove right into her response, which turned out to be a fine-tuned diatribe about Georgia's budgetary deficit and Kausche's supposed lack of budgetary experience and the budgetary concerns and the budget. Finally, Stewart concluded that perhaps the most important thing to consider is, you guessed it, the budget. She even printed out budget sheets for attendees, which I found extraordinarily useful as a handy notepad.

My head perked up when I heard a question regarding Georgia's healthcare policies. Admittedly, I know less than I should about the subject and was curious to know what each candidate thought.

Shockingly, Republican Kelly Stewart opposed the expansion of Medicaid while Democrat Angelika Kausche vehemently supported it. I start to wonder what the point of having candidates' names on the ballot is when their political stances just as much could be conveyed with the letters "D" and "R" to the tee.

Neither candidate veered from their party platform for the rest of the night, with only a few moments of forced agreement (always around the fact that an issue exists, never about how to solve it). On a few occasions, a candidate would utter an especially radical idea (i.e. Obamacare is at blame for the opioid crisis. Medicaid should be for all people. Teachers should be armed.) and was almost always met with either overwhelming applause or a sea of groans.

The room's reaction was so powerful in either candidate's favor that I was genuinely confused who was the more favored of the two.

To be abundantly clear, I wholeheartedly support voter efficacy and staying informed, and I understand that debates inform voters of their representative's ideals. I also don't mean to criticize Kausche or Stewart or even the policies they endorse. I only question the point of debate when it's anchored in stiff, unrelenting party platforms. This is symptomatic of the larger trend at work in American politics: the exploitation of party differences by politicians to entice a demographic of their constituents.

If you're wondering what that means or demand evidence, just take President Trump. Back in 2016, his presidential campaign threatened to run as independent when he felt he wasn't getting enough support from the GOP. Now, he champions radicalized views of the right and has emboldened members of the far-right (along with alt-right neo-Nazis and racists) with his entirely anti-PC attitude.

Similarly, it's rare to find a democratic politician that deviates from the extensive list of liberal ideas that are expected of them. Consider Trump's opponent Hilary Clinton, who originally made it clear in 2014 that she was against nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Isn't it suspicious that in 2015, without explaining why her stance changed, her presidential campaign later advocated for this right, thus garnering support from the LGBT community?

There's so much more wrong with the state of American politics than your opposed party controlling political office.

The effect of the American people allowing this pandering and doublespeak is political inaction among policymakers, who can preach a set of ideals independent of their actual intentions.

The other result is voter apathy among constituents, who therefore feel their vote holds little weight.

With such deceitful rhetorical tactics dominating the political sphere, it's easy to believe that we've all been given a voice. But when that voice only ever tells us what we want to hear, it's important that we stop to question whether we're really being heard.

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