Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

OPINION: American Democracy Is Dead!

Created: 05 March, 2018
Updated: 18 November, 2022
4 min read

Americans have to admit that our democracy -- the great experiment -- is dead. Our government does not look or function as our Founding Fathers intended. In fact, it has failed in the fundamental purpose it was founded for -- to respond to the will of the people.

As a nation, we have found ways to subvert the will of the people by reversing how the voting process works. The use of gerrymandering has allowed those that run for office to select who will vote for them.

Partisan gerrymandering has not only created bizarrely shaped congressional districts, but also allows political parties to govern from the minority.

According to the Harvard Political Review, "[G]errymandering allows the majority party in any given state to redraw legislative district boundaries so that they are always able to control the most seats, even if they win fewer votes."

This simple fact reveals that democracy is not the sacred jewel of America.

Gerrymandering reveals one of the ugliest realities of America: racism. Racial gerrymandering is not only accepted, but a common practice in designing congressional districts.

Racial gerrymandering involves the dilution of minority voting power by spreading voters of color across predominately white districts, thus drowning out their issues and demands. Or concentrating those votes in a single district and creating more districts that nullify their influence.

Citizens opposed to this have won arguments that gerrymandering is wrong and anti-democratic in state courts. So far it has made little difference.

In Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania the federal courts have ruled that politics and intentional discrimination is unacceptable when drawing electoral lines and ordered new districts in place for the 2018 elections.

The Supreme Court has upheld the Pennsylvania decision to redraw voting districts. But that makes no difference in other states where gerrymandering decisions have been stopped cold by the Supreme Court.

Respect for democracy has failed to change the minds of those in power.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican Party has threatened to impeach a State Supreme Court justice and State Sen. Joe Scarnati has outright refused to comply with the decision. The act of an elected representative defying the courts can only mean that our democracy is dead.

Democracy, as practiced by Americans, was supposed to mean the will of the people is the source  of political power. But we have seen the will of the people subverted by mechanisms that change their decisions.

Our current president is a product of that mechanism. President Trump lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes. But Trump won the Electoral College and the presidency.

One man, one vote is dead. Our democracy has so deteriorated that we no longer decide who is president. We have turned that over to state electors who cast votes for the president, thus subverting the will of the people.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 68 that the "immediate election of the President should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station." Hamilton did not believe in the decision of the people themselves.

Hamilton went on to write that "a small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations."

The reality is that those people are simply party loyalists. Regardless of the will of the people of any given state, the electors are expected to vote along party lines and can refuse to vote for the popular vote winner.

Elected officials openly pursue campaign contributions and the strings that are so obviously tied to that money. In fact, the ability to survive within the confines of the party is dictated by the amount of money a representative can produce for the party.

Committee assignments in Congress often go to the person who raises the most money for the party. Members are charged "dues" for good committee assignments, and more if they seek to reach committee chairmanships.

According to Brookings.com, chairmanship of the House’s most-coveted committees such as the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Rules, and Ways and Means, known as the "A" list, means generating money for the party.

Republicans seeking these positions are expected to hand over as much as $1.2 million in party dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Other less-coveted positions like the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are on the "B" list, and cost a Republican House member about $875,000.

Democracy is dead -- killed by cash.

Regardless of the issue, the American people are a second thought, if they are thought of at all, when it comes to governing. How else can issues like DACA or the Dreamers continue to fail to get action in Congress?

Poll after poll show that Americans support a DACA bill by as much as 79 percent. Some polls even have that number as high as 90 percent. But democracy is dead so answering the will of the people is not a priority.

Recently school gun violence took another 17 lives in Florida. Americans want common sense gun laws by an overwhelming margin. Politicians don't want ot hear it. According to Pew Research, voters who support stricter gun laws are less likely to be contacted by an elected representative. Ninety percent of gun owners support universal background checks. So what? Democracy is dead.