Democracyin the United States
Theterm democracy is derived from the Greek language meaning “rule ofthe people.” It was derived as a retaliation towards rulers whoabused power. The modern definition of democracy entails a type ofadministration, where the constitution guarantees elementarypolitical and personal rights. The constitution also guarantees afree and fair election backed up by independent courts of law. Themain components of democracy include:
Freedom of press, speech, mass media, and opinion
Guarantees the fundamental human rights
Separation of powers between the state institutions, i.e. government, parliament, and courts of law
Thereare two main types of democracy, i.e. direct and representative. Thispaper will look to establish the distinguishing factors between thetwo types of democracy. Also, the merits and demerits of both typeswill be discussed. These advantages and limitations will assist tooutline why implementing direct democracy is rather difficult in theUnited States. Trusting the elected persons is a major issueinvolving representative democracy. In other words, democracy dependssolely on honesty and trust. Once the citizens lose faith in itselected members, it becomes even harder to observe democracy. Manycountries across the globe practice a democratic type of government.However, not all of them manage to govern by the recommendations ofdemocracy. As a result, different institutions of the state and theresidents are involved in wrangles. In that regard, this paper willalso try to reveal an elected leader who is not doing what the peoplewanted. It is common for leaders promise something while seekingvotes, but then does not follow up with their assurances.
Inthis type, citizens make the policies and law without going throughrepresentatives and legislatures. Residents are given an unusualamount of participation in the process of legislation, allowing themmaximum political self-determination. A good example of directdemocracy is practiced in Switzerland. The country has a long historyof direct democracy, where the citizens can participate in coming upwith federal laws. They are also allowed to suggest changes in thebudget and legislation through referendums. Another classic exampleis drawn from the New England Town Meeting. In this case, people wereallowed to debate and vote on town policies. However, the current lowattendance levels have hampered the process.
Directdemocracy typically promotes transparency. The advancement andimprovement of the society lie solely on the people. They areaccorded greater responsibility to suggest fair policies to beimplemented. It provides citizens the chance to get access toessential info for them to plainly and broadly comprehend matterswithin the government and its regulations, stimulating transparency.The residents are also allowed to debate political issuesinformatively due to their participation.
Anothermerit entails the promotion of a well-cooperative community. Sincepublics have the authority to express their views that theadministration needs to articulate, a feeling of harmoniouscontribution among politicians is encouraged. It also leads to civicparticipation and a great society, where knowledgeable verdicts aremade not only by the administration but by the community as well.Other advantages include reduction in corruption, better politicalinvolvement, and provision of direct responsibility (Longley, 2015).
Thedecision making process is quite complicated. Harmonizing thepeoples’ desires is a rather hard task. Since the system allows abroad range of public involvement, some citizens are less-equipped tosuggest meaningful ideologies. Others will argue just for the sake,hence hindering the entire process. Due to the extensiveness of theprocess, a country’s progress can be slowed down. Reaching aconsensus is made harder by people who do not read the proposedregulations. Since the practice involves both educated anduneducated, agreeing on particular aspects may be quite challenging.The process also creates some room for corruption and manipulation.With the intricacy of some matters, parties may flood the streets toconduct promotional activities to influence the people the way theyshould vote. In most cases, this type of democracy does not guaranteechange, especially for minority groups. The cost implications relatedto this kind are also high. In general, the direct democracy seemsimpractical.
Drawingfrom the above limitations, the United States will find it hard toimplement the system due to the complexities involved. The U.Scomprises of different kinds of people who differ in race, ethnicbackgrounds, educational levels, and wealth. The population is alsoquite large. Attaining a consensus is therefore close to impossible.The citizens may also be too busy to comprehend the necessarychanges. All the limitations addressed above, i.e. complex decisionmaking, room for manipulation, lack of representation for minoritygroups, and high costs make it difficult for the U.S. to have adirect democracy.
Itis also known as indirect democracy. In this system, qualifiedcitizens vote for representatives to pass laws on their behalf. It isregarded as the only practical form of democracy in mass societies.The system allows a small number of individuals to make decisions onbehalf of a larger population. A good example is the United States.The president and members of Congress make decisions representing thecitizens. The citizens also elect state and local officials torepresent them (NYLN, 2015).
Thesystem is sufficiently balanced with the citizens allowed to vote fortheir preferred candidates. In that respect, the decision makingprocess is not hectic since only a small number of representativesare involved. The executive body can be very efficient. Since thecountry`s Constitution guides the leaders, implementation of policiesis also much easier. Citizen representation plays an immense role inchoosing the leaders. It has a propensity of attracting highparticipation from the residents.
Onecore limitation is unfavorable representation. Sometimes, themajority vote does not exemplify a favorable choice. In other words,an individual elected to represent a given population may be havingdifferent views. An elected leader ends up serving his/herpreferences instead of the citizens`. Electing a heterogeneous leadermay also be quite complex since not everyone will be in agreement.Deception is another issue with this system. A candidate may promiseto address some issues while campaigning but then changes once theyget into office. Minorities are also not well represented in such asystem. Inefficiency and corruption are some other limitationsassociated with this system.
Fromthe above constraints, citizens hardly trust their leaders. Theyrarely feel represented. As evidenced by opinion polls, an electedmember’s popularity tends to decline when he/she is in power. It,therefore, becomes hard for citizens to trust elected leaders to acton their behalf. If good campaigners could make better presidents,then success would have been inevitable. A good case can be drawnfrom the state of New Mexico. While seeking for election, thecitizens were promised better economic outcomes i.e. jobopportunities. However, currently, the state is the worst-run in thecountry. The debt per capita are high, unemployment and poverty ratesare also still high. The social and economic outcomes are quite poor(Thomas C., 2015).
Longley, R. (2015, September 10). What is Direct Democracy? Retrieved from What is Direct Democracy?: http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepoliticalsystem/a/Direct-Democracy.htm
NYLN. (2015, July 31). 5 Fundamental Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy. Retrieved from 5 Fundamental Pros and Cons of Representative Democracy: http://nyln.org/5-fundamental-pros-and-cons-of-representative-democracy
Thomas C., M. B. (2015, December 4). The best- and worst-run states in America. Retrieved from The best- and worst-run states in America: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/12/04/24-7-wall-st-best-and-worst/76770088/