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Democracy In America


Most nations aspire to seem democratic. Democracy means that the country’s leadership is not based on force but the result of an election in which all citizens who meet certain basic criteria are given a chance to pick who will be in charge for a stated period of time. The country that most often attempts to promote this ideal in the rest of the world is the United States of America. This essay looks at a few flaws in this process.

The eligibility factor

Citizens who are able to vote may not necessarily be capable of making good decisions. They may be extremely biased against people of particular cultures or ethnicities or they may have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as benefits themselves. On the other hand, there are citizens who can no longer vote because of criminal records they acquired under circumstances they could not avoid. Their input is missing from this process. Those who are under the age of 18 are also not able to ass their input to this flawed system.

The Illusion of Choice

In most elections there are clear front runners. These candidates may not be very good but they are the only ones with any chance of actually entering office. If as a citizen you decide to vote for someone who is not a front runner, your vote is effectively wasted. This is a very bad prospect in cases where a candidate with very little chance of winning has the best policies. He or she may be exactly what a very informed minority want but not have the charisma to capture the bulk of voters. This was the case with Al Gore (although some would argue that he really did win that election). As long as only two of the options can possibly win, anyone who disagrees with both of them has no choice at all.

The True Leaders

The two options are often backed by the same very wealthy people. These groups can buy politicians early on in their careers and then call in favors when they rise high enough on the ladder to success. This can change the laws that get enacted and many other things.

While America retains some aspects of democracy it is still not clear if this gives any moral high-ground from which to judge nations that are run differently. This is a matter of opinion.