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Democracy is undoubtedly considered to be the perfect political structure in many countries around the world. In general, democracy is seen as a system of government where the majority of people determine who leads them. In this system, people choose to wield authority on their own or indirectly by their elected officials (Pharr and Putman 12). Although democracy has a long tradition, which is visible in almost the entire history of humanity, contemporary democracy is primarily synonymous with the United States of America. The United States is considered not only as the shining beacon of democracy, but also as the model democratic country to be emulated by other upcoming democracies (Katz 44). As a matter of fact, some countries have created constitutions that are largely similar to that of the United States. Other countries have even adopted the presidential system of government that mirrors that of the United States. Despite its rising popularity as the most preferred system of governance across the globe, democracy has been discredited for suppressing concerns and complains towards political system, especially among the minority groupings.
The dominance of democracy as the most ideal system of government is starting to be challenged. Some of its key elements such as freedom and rationality are being questioned by individuals who argue that these elements are not absolute as proponents of democracy assume (Mann and Ornstein 30). Those challenging the place of democracy in the society and its influence in shaping the political, social, and economic realities of individuals further argue that its dominant tradition, which is voting, is no longer sufficient in enabling a society to achieve its aspirations. There is a growing percentage of population in the United States that believes that their votes do not make a difference and that their views and beliefs are not represented by the political candidates and their parties (Ballinger 68). They believe that democracy is under threat in the modern world as evidenced by its increasing failures in recent times. This paper will argue that indeed voting fails to give voice to the complaints citizens have about how the United States is being run.
The notion that voting as a key component of democracy is the best way for citizens to voice their complaints about how the United States is being run is overrated. The belief that it is through voting that the society gets rid of bad leaders and replaces them with good ones has proved to be untrue on more occasions, than not. In fact, it has simply demonstrated that it is a cycle exploited by individuals to achieve their selfish objectives, rather than to serve the public interests (Wolfinger and Rosenstone 42). The sole goal of individuals to get into power through voting is often less to do with serving the public, but instead motivated by the aim of making money for themselves and to enjoy the accompanying privileges (Lavrakas and Traugott 86). Classical political leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers of democracy like George Washington demonstrated in many ways that their political ambitions were driven by the desire to benefit the whole country. However, the contemporary political leaders often do not demonstrate these tendencies thus putting democracy under threat (Pharr and Putman 27).
The elected leaders of the past were seen to put the interest of the voters ahead of their interests. Once elected in office, they made it their own agenda to fight for the public. They used to protest and even strike as a way of making sure that citizens_x0092_ interests are met (Skocpol and Fiorina 54). The protests were genuine as they served a particular goal such as protesting against racism among other causes. However, contemporary political leaders engage less in such actions, and when they do, it is a way of seeking political mileage or to push for the agenda of their political parties (Mann and Ornstein 52). Most political leaders engage in strikes and protests as a way of gaining publicity and not to fight for the rights of a common man. This is evidenced by the outcomes of the protests. Most protests end up turning violent and disruptive; markets and shops remain closed, traffic is disrupted and the end of it all no outcome that benefits common people is achieved (Keyssar 37).
Voting in democratic societies is further proving not to be the best way to have complains about the political system heard. Ideally, elections should offer equal chance for all candidates to win, however, in reality this is not the case (Inglehart 25). United States offers a perfect example of this reality. In the past two decades, the American national political arena has been dominated by two major families: Bush and Clinton families. In case of Bush family, a father and a son have served as presidents within a two decade period, as well as another son serving as a senator. In case of Clinton family, a husband and a wife have served as president and Secretary of State, respectively. Up to very recently, the Bush family has dominated the Republican Party politics, while the Clinton family has been dominating the Democratic Party politics. These examples serve to show that voting in recent years has been used to advance dynastic agenda, rather than to serve the good of all citizens. The masses have been exploited emotionally to believe that they ought to vote individuals from specific families. This very idea of voting individuals from same family while there is unlimited option of choosing from broad sections of society is a threat to democracy (Mann and Ornstein 76).
Voting has failed to act as a tool through which people_x0092_s complaints can be heard in the United States because _x0093_all votes are not equal_x0094_ (Wolfinger and Rosenstone 19). The assumption in democracy that all votes are equal has proven to be false. This was evident very recently when despite getting majority of popular vote, Hillary Clinton failed to win presidency against Donald Trump. As such, it proved that getting majority votes is not enough to represent the voice of people. As the case on possible interference on the United States_x0092_ electoral process in 2016 presidential election is being investigated, it is serving as a further proof that indeed voting can be manipulated thereby denying the electorates the chance of having their way. The Clinton-Trump scenario presents a perfect case of why not all votes are equal; business and local and international political interests can surmount the interests of the majority of people. Despite exercising right to vote, it is possible that the outcome of the voting cannot be the actual representation of people_x0092_s wills (Inglehart 66).
Growing populism is another factor that serves to show that democracy is indeed under threat and that voting may not necessarily represent people_x0092_s interests. unlike in the past decades when voting was largely guided by ideals and ability of individuals to represent the electorates, recent years have shown voting is guided by populism (Katz 105). Therefore, votes no longer decide who is right, but rather whoever has the ability to say what citizens want to hear. Consequently, political candidates have resorted to populism as a way of winning elections (Keyssar 38). Instead of pursuing policies that are geared towards making the lives of citizens better, political candidates engage in rhetoric that appease to immediate needs of the citizens and not the long-term improvements and successes. Populist leaders focus more on emotions than common sense and reason. By appealing to the emotions of the people, they are able to get elected. When they get to office they are unable to serve the public diligently and do not hear their complaints (Lavrakas and Traugott 86).
Globalization has contributed to inability of voting to give voice to the complaints citizens have about how the United States is being run. In this technological age, it is easy for politicians to blame economic, political and social issues on external forces thus running away from responsibility (Pharr and Putman 81). A case in point was the 2008 economic crises when government blamed financial instability in Europe and other countries in the world for the crises in the United States. While it is true that the world is now more connected than ever before, it is inappropriate for political leaders not to take responsibility for the mess in the country. They should take responsibility through sound policies and measures aimed at dealing with the challenges brought about by external factors. Globalization has resulted to emergence of processes like outsourcing that have resulted to job losses (Mann and Ornstein 115). Instead of focusing on these effects, politicians ought to look for alternative ways of creating new jobs to compensate the lost jobs.
The 2008 economic crisis and decisions by the executive and judiciary arms of government have increased hatred and discontent that people have against the government. More and more citizens are considering the government as the primary cause of their problems (Mann and Ornstein 93). Citizens believe that most problems are due to poor policies and decisions by the government and this has led to dwindling support towards the government. A study commissioned in 2012 showed that public support towards the government reduced from 70 percent in 1986 to 40 percent in 2012 (Liptak and Kopicki 2012). The judiciary arm of the government has also been faulted by the citizens who consider some of its decisions as being in favor of the political class rather than being in the interest of the public (Keyssar 41). The issues such as those of immigrants have caused raging debate among members of the public; opinions are divided as to whether policies on immigration as formulated by political leaders are appropriate. There are concerns by a section of the population that some of immigration policies will have detrimental effect on their jobs, security and overall wellbeing (Skocpol and Fiorina 60).
Wolfinger and Rosenstone (59) explain that voting results to mob rule which does not necessary amount to hearing and consideration of the citizens_x0092_ complaints. Democracy means that the majority population makes decision over the minority population about who leads them. The consequence of this is that the minority are left powerless and at the mercy of the majority (Lavrakas and Traugott 91). The majority are left with no option but to accept the will of the majority and to abide by their desires on political, social and economic matters (Skocpol and Fiorina 29). In extreme cases, elected political leaders tend not to hear the complaints of those who did not vote for them. Some of these leaders even deny the minority the opportunity to participate in making key decisions about their social, economic, and political matters (Keyssar 122). The consequence of such moves include disharmony and can even lead to conflict in the society.
In conclusion, it is evidently clear from the discussion that indeed voting fails to give voice to the complaints citizens have about how the United States is being run. As has been noted, this situation is as a result of a myriad of factors, some of which negate the fundamental ideals of democracy. Selfish interests of elected leaders, globalization and interference by local and international business and political interests are some of the reasons that make voting fail to achieve its objective. These factors and several others are posing serious threat to democracy. They undermine the intention of democracy to serve the interests of the public. Instead, they create and support an environment that affects the interest of the public and actually shrink their freedom, equality and justice. Therefore, it is important to rethink the place of voting in democracy and whether it is still a valid tool that reflects the will of the people.
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