Tuesday, October 15, 2013

American Democracy

The goal of most citizens living in the United States and of our government is to have our country considered a democratic country. Most U.S. citizens would like to see the world governed by democratically elected governments.

What is a democracy? A good definition is: "A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives." There are a few caveats, if this definition is accepted by those living in the United States.

Does the United States have a true democracy if it accepts less than 100% of the eligible voters voting? In fact, the U.S. usually gets just over half of the eligible voters voting. If the U.S. is a democracy, then those not voting are actually voting negatively. Nonvoting citizens are openly stating that they don't like the choices. Therefore, if the U.S. is to be a true democracy, more choices and probably mandatory voting laws are necessary.

What if an elected person acts illegally or gives false information to the population? Is not that person violating the trust of the people who elected him/her to hold those democratic powers? Democracy has to work on trust, the trust of the people in their representatives. Representatives, who accept money because of their position to make laws, destroy the trust the people need to have for true representatives. Accepting bribes from lobbyists also impairs the work turned out; for the results will naturally be slanted towards the positions of those providing the money.

It must be accepted that, on each level of government, a representative represents a specific group of people. A true representative might also see issues on the basis of the whole democracy (country). Still, representatives are required to represent those who elected them. The United States has representatives, known as senators, who are elected by the whole state. Senators should represent the people of their entire state, but should see beyond the state level to the national level.

This has not been the case. Individuals, such as our president, are elected at large, and should act differently. The president must assume a unique office in relation to other countries of the world. Almost every other country has a sovereign head as well as an executive head. Canada has both a prime minister and a sovereign head appointed by the Queen of England. The president of the U.S. holds both offices. The president needs to be nonpolitical in order to truly be a democratic head of state. Unfortunately, the U.S. presidents have been very political.

In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover became head of the FBI. Under his leadership, which lasted until his death in 1972, the U.S. became sort of a police state. J. Edgar Hoover collected files on Americans from all levels of society. Members of the government were the most important for him. No politician would go against Hoover or the FBI, for he had the goods on most of them. That is why he died in office.

The United States is far from being a true democracy by allowing all these deviations and corruptions to continue. The U.S. has been able to get along over the course of its history. Those times of trouble have been when very political people try to advance their particular political principles upon the country. Usually these political positions have not been for the nations good or accepted by the general population. The United States has first need to champion democracy itself before it could successfully champion democracy to the world. We are currently in such times. "We the people" must work hard to obtain democratic principles if we want a true democracy. If we don't live with democratic principles, we will continue to have all the disgraceful actions of those in power and those who feel above the law. The United States will constantly experience swings in policies if the presidency continues to change parties and thus the policies. By Chester P. Soling

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