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While the hope is that every citizen would put in equal input and effort into voicing their political opinions, this is an unrealistic idea. There are many ways for citizens to express their wishes including voting, “writing letters to public officials, attending, protests, making political contributions, joining organizations, working for a political party,” yet only a few of the majority exercise these actions (Scholzman et al. 17). Because of this, the type of person that is politically active and their opinion matters more now in society than the volume of people that are politically active.
Some people are more aggressive in their political endeavors and advocate harder for their particular interests and issues than others that are more contempt to play a more passive role in politics. The “federal Constitution forms a happy combination” in respect to representation and delegation of the government; “the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular interests to the State legislatures,” and allows for both, majority and minority, factions the ability to prevail over the other (Federalist Paper No.
10). In the case of America today, the minute wealthy elite have prevailed for an extended period of time, thus, directly disregarding and disobeying the fundamental principle of political equality.
From the lack of public participation, the voices that are expressed in political affairs are not representative of the society as a whole. Voter turnout has begun to diminish within previous years with around half of Americans voting in the presidential elections, and less than that actively participating in campaigning and being an activist.
This seems to be a direct cause of economic inequality, for “study after study has demonstrated that individuals with high socio-economic status — that is, those who have high levels of education, income, and occupational status — are much more likely to be politically active” (Scholzman et al. 23). They are more active in all areas of political activity including campaigning, making campaign contributions, voting, and even protesting. A survey recorded in 1990 that compared political activity between two income groups, families making under $15,000 and families making above $75,000. It was shown that “nearly nine out of 10 families with incomes over $75,000 reported voting in presidential elections while only half of those families with incomes under $15,000 reported voting” (Scholzman et al. 23). This shows the increasing gap in economic inequality in America, and economic inequality can further be divided from family income to gender, race, ethnicity, education, and age. Studies have shown that being well-educated, Anglo-White, male, or middle-aged leads to an increase in a person’s political activity.
While income plays an overwhelming role in a person’s ability to make a considerable campaign contribution, an underlying effect of income, education, plays a more active role in explaining levels of participation. Since education derives from a person’s income, the wealthy tend to be more educated. Studies show that “men have, on average, higher levels of education than women do,” and “because they are more likely than women to be in the work force and, if employed, more likely to hold jobs that permit the acquisition of civic skills and exposure to requests for political participation, men have an advantage when it comes to work-based participatory factors,” which include political participation (Scholzman et al. 27). While the discrepancy of political activity between genders is education related, the discrepancy between ethnicity is derived from socio-economic differences. Anglo-Whites are much more likely to participate in politics than African- Americans or Latinos and since “these are groups with distinctive political preferences and participatory agendas… it makes a difference with respect to equal protection of interests if participatory messages to policymakers underrepresent input from African-Americans and Latinos” (Scholzman et al. 29). In order to ensure a more equal political voice and participation from citizens, all opinions must be expressed and communicated to the public officials. If a person’s interests are not conveyed then the government can not perform its duty in protecting the interests of all its citizens and political inequality arises.
The level of political inequality has risen considerably high in recent years and is shown in direct correlation with differences in socio-economic classes. As economic is distributed among higher income levels of society, the wealthy gain dominance in political influence. Their ability to gain tools and means of persuasion in campaigning and campaign spending surpass those on the lower income levels of society. Opinions and preferences of the majority and belong to groups that are at a disadvantage are underexpressed and most often covered up by the political influence of the rich. The organized representation of the economic needs of those who are less fortunate in terms of income than others are suffering. From this, only a drastic redistribution of wealth to decrease economic inequality can be used in order to stimulate lower socio-economic classes to increase political activity and their political voice.
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