Democracy. It’s the foundation of our society, yet it isn’t discussed in great depth. We live in a society that says we are in a democracy, and while it is, sometimes we don’t realize how democracy has progressively changed in structure. The purpose of democracy was to give power to the people; to give American citizens a voice in order to really have a government for the people. But democracy has gotten more and more fragile. Here are some examples of how that is true.
1. Voting Rights
This is one of the lesser-known factors of how democracy is fragile, but it still stands. Legally, you have to be at least 18 years-old to vote. While this is true, every state is also paired with their own voting rules and laws. Since 2010, it has become increasingly harder to vote. Again, nothing you can’t wiggle around and work with, but harder still. These new policies have caused the rejection of over 600,000 applicants. Some of the new laws require that you have the exact name written on all your government-issued identification. Many African American and Hispanic citizens have ID’s that have different names on them due to miscommunication, shortening of names (especially for Hispanic individuals), and other reasons. It is a long and strenuous process to change all your legal documents to the same name. Another issue surrounding voting is scheduling the day to vote in the middle of the week. People may go directly after work to vote during the last few hours before the polls close. Something that is an American right has become increasingly more difficult for many Americans.
Gerrymandering refers to the process by which workers for state legislators draw lines to separate voting districts (per state). The districts are supposed to be divided evenly so that they hold the same population of voters. While the idea was good, the execution is poor. The districts are changed every ten years. Depending on whether the state legislators are more Democratic or Republican, they are subject to bias. This means that while the populations in each district are the same, they are drawn in a way that includes more voters of a particular party, making them receive more votes.
3. The Media
The reason the media is on this list is quite simple. The media is responsible for misinforming viewers of subjective news. It is dangerous to only listen to one side of the story, and so, it is dangerous to listen to only one or one kind of news outlet. There is going to be bias, which means people are more likely to subscribe to ideologies that they do not fully agree with. This hurts democracy because when someone is fighting for an issue that is wrong or possibly harmful, they are doing it under poor judgement. This could help the misinformation spread, which causes a chain reaction of a group or mass of people supporting something false.
Activists and protests in themselves are not the issue, but the way the government responds to these events is the true issue. Free speech is a First Amendment right, but people are constantly being harmed, harassed, and sometimes arrested for displaying their rights. Not only are protesting and advocating protected rights, they also need to be done. It is important to speak one’s mind and unite when there is a problem. But, in recent years, the government has made that more difficult.
Although all these things are true, and democracy is fragile, that also doesn’t mean that you should be bracing yourself for democracy’s doom. As Winston Churchill once said, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." While democracy is not bulletproof, it remains to be the best type of government. It isn’t perfect, but it gives power to the people, which gives us all a purpose, and perhaps a duty, to share our opinions and try to make America a country for all.