How Democratic is the USA?

 

The United States of America is a Federal Presidential Constitutional Republic which consists of fifty states. Nowadays, how democratic the United States is, remains a highly controversial topic. America’s form President Abraham Lincoln once said that “Democracy is the rule of the people, by the people, for the people.” The word of suggests that people choose the government. The use of the word by means that any man or woman can be elected. Lastly, the word for, simply states that the government is there to serve all the people. Therefore, it will be argued that the United States is indirectly democratic. It is indirectly democratic due to the fact that there is universal suffrage, a representative democracy, and, electoral college votes. However, the presidents govern for their own supporters and, the people are restricted on how many times they can elect a president.

In the United States, universal suffrage plays a main role in American politics allowing all people to vote. The fifteenth amendment of the US constitution states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (Wikipedia) Therefore, this gives everyone an equal opportunity for their voices to be heard and have their own public opinion. This is democratic because the people vote directly on their own behalf and everyone has the right to vote.

On the other hand, the US consists of a representative democracy. It is a system of government where the citizens vote on a representative to vote on laws for them. The legislative branch is bicameral. It is made up of the Senate and the house of representatives. It is divided into two chambers because power tends to corrupt. The house of representatives and the Senate are elected by the people. The Senate consists of two senators from each state in the US which serve for six years and can either be re- elected or replaced. Currently, the Senate is made up of 51 Republican senators and 49 Democrats. This demonstrates the fact that the Republicans are in control of the Senate and have a greater say in accepting, rejecting or amending bills because Trump is a Republican himself. Therefore, this suggests that the representative democracy is an indirect form of democracy because although a citizen does not directly vote on laws, they elect a representative to vote on their behalf. They choose their representative, making this partially democratic. According to the economist intelligence index, the United States is 21st in the ranking and falls under the flawed democracy category. This means that it is not fully democratic. (The Economist)

Did you know that a US citizen does not vote directly for its President? The presidential elections are done through indirect voting of the people. The President is elected by the electoral college which is made up of 538 people. These electors then vote for the President. In order to become President, you only need 270 votes. This means that a candidate may get the most votes but still wouldn’t win the election. For example, in the US elections of 2016, Trump the republican had 62,984,828 popular votes and Clinton the democrat had 65,853,514. (The Independent) Yet, Trump won because he had 304 electoral votes where is Clinton only had 227. This depicts the fact that although she had more popular votes than him, more people voted for Clinton Trump still won because of the electoral college votes. While the people have a direct vote for President, the vote does not elect the candidate. Instead, the Electoral College elects the President. On the contrary, the vice-president is appointed by the President and not the people. This is not democratic because the people don’t get to have a say.

However, Noam Chomsky argues that America is not a democracy instead it is a plutocracy. He said that “there is government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.” Lincoln and Chomsky have conflicting ideas on the democracy of America because one believes that its the rule by all people whereas, Chomsky believes that its the rule by the rich. He believes that the republicans and the democrats are the same. It is a one-party democracy, the party of business also known as the Bourgeois democracy. Therefore, business men enter politics to ensure that the government is promoting the interests of the business class. This means that it is not a pure democracy because money plays a big role. For example, America’s current President Trump is a billionaire. During his campaign, he presented himself as the man of the people. He himself claimed that Washington was ruled by the rich and that he was going to change that. Trump played the patriotic card by saying that he will “Make America Great Again.” (Trump) Therefore, it’s the rule of the rich because now the power is in his hands, in the hands of the rich where they deceive people so that they are easier to control. They give them as little as possible like giving the “people food and entertainment and they will not question the fundamentals of the political regime.” Up to now, all Presidents have been millionaires. It has been stated that,  although it is not stated in the constitution, “Wealth has always been a major qualifying factor for the presidency. It gives you access to the other rich people who fund campaigns, the status to seek high office, the extra time necessary for an all-consuming quest, and freedom from the everyday concerns that keep most people occupied. Thus has it always been, thus ever will it be.” (ThoughtCo)

The people are restricted on how many times they can re-elect a President. In the United States, the President can only serve two terms if he/she is reappointed. Also, the President has to be over the age of 35. This is undemocratic because people lose their power to be able to vote for whomever they want to because they aren’t allowed to vote for someone for the third time who they liked having in power.  

   The United States of America is indirectly democratic. It is a republic system with democratic elements. People have the right to vote, there is universal suffrage. Also, they get to choose a representative to represent them during political decisions therefore, they don’t take the decisions themselves but they appoint someone to represent them. The President is also indirectly elected by the people therefore, it does not make the vote purely democratic. Nevertheless, the President’s rule for their own interests and in order to become a President you have to be rich in order to fund your campaign. Therefore, not everyone has the privilege of becoming one due to these economic barriers. The word democracy does not appear anywhere in the constitution. Unfortunately, the US has become a flawed democracy these past years.

Works Cited

“Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution.

Harriet Agerholm @HarrietAgerholm. “America Is Not a ‘Full’ Democracy, Report Finds.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 6 Feb. 2018, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-democracy-rated-donald-trump-not-fully-democratic-us-president-report-the-economist-a8195121.html.

Murse, Tom, and Nieman Foundation. “Do You Have to Be Rich to Be President of the United States?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, http://www.thoughtco.com/do-presidents-have-to-be-rich-3367614.

“Reality Check: Is US System a ‘Disaster for Democracy’? – BBC News.” BBC, BBC, 15 Nov. 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2016-37990653.

“United States Presidential Election, 2016.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016.

 

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