So, the question asks are elections good for democracies? When I analyze this question, I immediately think about the word democracy and the type of democracy that is implemented within the U.S. The website “whatisdemocracy.net” describes democracy as the government by the people. The website also explains how people should be able to have their say in one way or another in everything that affects their lives. Which Is why democracy is either direct (by every member of a community having the possibility to enter personally, without mediators, his position on a particular issue into the decision making process) or by a representative democracy (elected members of legislative bodies). In the U.S., representative democracy Is the type of democracy that is implemented. What this means is that we as citizens of the U.S. have the right to vote in every election, and the liberty to vote for any candidate who participates. On paper this process of democracy seems painless and more efficient for the average American. But is the voice of the people really being represented by the individuals we elect in office? This is the question that ties in to the main question on whether elections are right for democracy.
Knowing what we know now about democracy, and specifically representative democracy, we can easily see that part of being in a representative democracy depends on some sort of election. When talking about elections we also have to define this word in depth in order to shape the correlation with representative democracy. According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, elections are defined as the right, power, or privilege of making a choice. Going back to representative democracy, the people or the majority of people, will utilize elections by making a choice on who to choose as their candidate for public office. This candidate will then go on to represent the people who are assigned to his or her constituency or community. This candidate is also expected to be the voice of the people who elected them in office. So why is there a problem? Why do we have concerns about elections being good for democracies? Well the problem leads to another rhetorical question, Are the people’s interest really being represented by the candidates we elect to represent us? As we began to break down the answer, I will add that my personal opinion to this question is, no. If I can say no to this question, I can probably say no to the main
question on elections being good for democracy.
With my personal answer being revealed. I can say that my reasons have some thoughts and reasoning behind my answer. The first thing is that the election process is categorize in two ways: the popular vote and the Electoral College. The two categories are very different in context. The Electoral College is a method of indirect popular election of the President of the United States (bensguide.gpo.gov). There is also the popular vote which is accumulated by the number of citizens who voted for a particular candidate. Now the popular vote’s influence is suppressed by the Electoral College which is the main decider of elections, especially presidential elections (people.howstuffworks.com). Now here’s a scenario for you, It’s election time and you are a voter who is about to cast his ballot and instead of your vote counting towards your choice of candidate, it is use to elect someone who you never seen before to cast your vote for you, if he or she decides to do so. Usually, electors are people who are politically active in their party (people.howstuffworks.com). This includes political activists, party leaders, elected officials of the state and even people who have personal or political ties to the presidential candidates (people.howstuffworks.com). Also the electors are chosen by each state’s party at state conventions. So basically the Electoral College takes the number of popular votes each state has per candidate and gives electoral votes based on the winner of each popular vote. But sometimes it gets complicated. Some electors abstain from voting, while others vote differently than they pledged to vote (people.howstuffworks.com). Today, a candidate must receive 270 of the 538 votes to win the election.
So what exactly is the problem? The problem is that the people’s votes our in the hands of the electorate and not the citizen themselves. The candidate who wins the popular vote doesn’t always win the election (people.howstuffworks.com). In better news, recent state laws have now mandated that their states have to give electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, not just the state vote. These states are California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia (which is considered a state in the Electoral
In terms of the correlation between representative democracies versus the election process in the U.S., I will say that we are not really as representative of a democracy as people think we are. According to 1215.org the United States is a mixture of the two systems of government (Republican under Common Law, and democratic under statutory law). The People enjoy their God-given natural rights in the Republic. In a democracy, the Citizens enjoy only government granted privileges (also known as civil rights). From the article we can get a sense of where are representative democracy derives from, the democratic republic. Also I understand that a representative democracy gives people the freedom to live their lives as they please, while having the right to disagree with the decision. All of this makes it okay to continue to practice of “our” version of what democracy means. But the reality is a democracy needs to have more sovereign involvement from the people, in which our democracy currently doesn’t. What you get instead is a bunch of public opinion and not a lot of policy actions from the masses. Nowadays factory workers along with mountain enthusiasts use opinion columns to express themselves. Why this happens so much, I have no idea. But on the opposite side of the spectrum the people that our state electors elect from our votes only get a fraction of their policy agenda completed each year. WOW! So much for a democracy.
So in essence, elections really do mess up the context of what a democracy is supposed to look like. It’s supposed to include more power amongst the masses, instead the power is more pseudo because opinion has been considered power.