America has a democracy problem


Creative Commons image by Josh Johnson

A woman wearing an American flag. American democracy is a point of pride for many Americans.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan wanted us to believe that America is “the shining city on the hill.” America is supposed to be the champion of democracy, and a leader for the rest of the world to follow. This idea that America is this unstoppable force that can crush anything in its path is simply not true. The systems that were put in place either by the Founding Fathers, or by Congress in the years after have become outdated and have been used to abuse the system that we put in place, and could become a threat to our democracy.

The first thing we need to talk about is the Electoral College, which is how we pick our President. In short, how the Electoral College works is every state gets a certain amount of electoral votes, which is a combination of their two senators and how many Representatives they have. An example would be that Minnesota has 10 electoral votes, and a state like Wyoming has 3. This all adds up to be 538 electoral votes, and to win the White House a candidate needs 270 votes. 

The one main problem with this system is that it doesn’t always match up with what a majority of Americans want. The electoral college has failed to match up with the popular vote twice in the 21st century, once in 2000, and again 2016. This failure to give the American people what they asked for is why we should get rid of the electoral college entirely in favor of just a straight popular vote. 

This will ensure that everyone’s vote will count equally, and that America’s voice will be heard, without fear of the electoral college going against the will of the people. Going straight to a popular vote will help bring more people out to vote, as they won’t have to worry about their vote not meaning anything since their state would normally lean another way on the electoral map.

Senior Olivia Hovland added, “I feel like a popular vote defines our democracy.” 

Not everyone agrees with just the straight popular vote however, senior Joe Krenz explained, “I don’t think there’s another better way that we can try and solve it with just a two party system.”

This doubt leads to another major problem in our democracy, which is our two party system, as most people don’t really feel truly represented by either candidate, but don’t want their vote to go to waste on a third party. 

Another way to go about our electoral college issue and tackle the two-party system at the same time is to have ranked choice voting. Ranked choice voting would get rid of the winner take all system we have right now, and force to have candidates win a majority of votes, not just a plurality.

I definitely think that large corporations they definitely contribute in some way whether it’s funding different political campaigns are just shaping out especially within the media.”

— Olivia Hovland

How it would work is you would get a list of candidates and you would rank them by your preference. Then when all the votes get counted up, if no candidate gets 50% of the votes, the candidate with the least votes would get taken out and the people who voted for him or her, their vote would go to whoever there number 2 candidate was. This process repeats until one candidate gets over 50% of the votes, and that would reflect the will of the people possibly even better than just a simple popular vote, because it would allow for more 3rd party candidates to join in and have a real fighting chance.

One final and major problem with how our democracy is run is how the Senate is operated and structured. The way that each state gets 2 senators no matter the population has drastically thrown off the power balance in the chamber. 

By 2040, according to a University of Virginia analysis of census projections, half the population will live in eight states. About 70 percent of people will live in 16 states — which means that 30 percent of the population will control 68 percent of the Senate,” Vox reported.

That 30 percent of the population mostly comes from rural areas, that tend to lean more conservative in their view, therefore giving Democrats a geographical disadvantage when trying to win a majority in the Senate, and this can affect a ton of things, like corporate lobbying groups.

“I definitely think that large corporations they definitely contribute in some way whether it’s funding different political campaigns are just shaping out especially within the media,” Hovland said.

A large contributor has been the Koch brothers, who have donated large sums of money to political campaigns and tried to support a California bill that would’ve blocked a previous Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. 

Lobbyists like these have been a major roadblock in Congress trying to get anything done, and from helping Americans, just so they can get some more cash in their wallets.

America’s democracy is outdated and in need of some desperate change. The issues brought up here is just the tip of the iceberg to having a perfect union, but it’s definitely the right start. The insurrection this month demonstrated how fragile our democracy is, and how it is definitely not an unstoppable force, and we need to be very careful with that. People tried that same marketing strategy with a certain boat, and remember how that turned out?