Opinions & Editorials

Democracy is dying

By John Smithmeyer, Guest Writer

America’s democracy is under attack and has been since the 2016 election in which Russia interfered. 

Since then, the attack on liberal democracy in America has only been exacerbated, and Jan. 6 put that on display for the rest of the world to see. Earlier this year, citizens interfered with their own free and fair election. With the division in this house, collapse is imminent. 

Rest assured, America is divided and its government is being bombarded by both sides of the political spectrum for certain reforms. Progressives and conservatives alike are fed up with the U. S. government in its current state, and this growing divide only further exemplifies the fragility of our government and society.

However, it’s not all bad; there is some common ground to be found. The vast majority of Americans are not happy with things as they are right now. Herein lies the common ground —  both sides want to see the government change in some pretty drastic ways. Yet, the common ground only extends to the point that change is wanted and no further. These are just the growing pains of an evolving system. 

Our government initially sought to be an evolving system that allowed for the changing of laws and the occasional constitutional amendment. Even term limits on the presidency allow for evolution and adaptation, but only to a certain extent. This certain extent does not seem to be tolerable anymore. 

With constant advancements in biological and information technology, the government needs to have a plastic power like never before. Laws and regulations need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the internet and the interconnectedness it brings about. However, this seems unachievable with the current setup of the American government. 

As we all know, it takes months or even years for the Senate and House to pass a bill into law — not to mention the amendments that get added to the bill, thereby slowing down the process or even stopping it in its tracks. So how would it be possible for the current system to adapt to the problems of today? Simply put, it can’t.

Something substantial needs to change within the landscape of modern America’s liberal democracy. A few things that come to mind: abolishing lobby groups, putting term limits on the Supreme Court, abolishing the two-party system and putting limits on free speech. My point is this: the current system is clogged up and bogged down by inefficiency. I believe one huge part of the inefficiency of the American government is owed to the sheer size of the country. 

The Ancient Greeks spoke on democracy and had many mixed feelings about it, but one aspect they spoke of that seems to be overlooked is that democracy works best on small scales. 

America is one of the largest scales at which democracy has been attempted. For the first 400 years or so, democracy worked OK, assuming you are a White, cisgender male. But now, America’s democracy is being assaulted by its own citizens. America’s large size makes it hard for politicians to actually serve their constituency in a way that would address most of the constituency’s concerns. 

We all know quite a few things need to undergo radical change in America, but I believe one often-overlooked factor is the size of America, or at least the ways in which the American land is divided and the power each state has. 

I see the remedy as the federal government giving more power to state governments and allowing them to have more say in the laws and regulations within each state. Additionally, some power and control over state legislation needs to be stripped from the federal government. 

The problems of Idaho are not the same as the problems in Ohio, so why should the different problems have the same solution? Even if there are some overlapping issues in Arizona and Maine, that doesn’t mean both states should go about solving them in the same ways. Each region in America has its own social and political climate, and this should be recognized by the federal government and citizens alike. 

I do not think downsizing is the “end-all, be-all” for the issues the government faces today, but it might be an evolutionary step toward a less divided America.

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