The Direction of Democracy

With the recent election won by President Trump, a person who had little to no political background really questioned the direction in which democracy is going. I believe that President trump did not win the popular vote in this election because of his lack of participation in politics. This shocking outcome of the presidential race showed that if someone who is unqualified to be president can win the presidency then where does this leave democracy in our society today.

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In the article written by the New York times it talks about how the country needs democracy and that even though the presidency of Trump seeks to get rid of these democratic “norms” the article argues on why they should fight to keep it alive and how just one election doesn’t determine the fate of the future. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt state that in order for democracy to function well it needs to be “reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual toleration, according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual toleration exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do. The second norm is forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power. Forbearance is the act of not exercising a legal right. In politics, it means not deploying one’s institutional prerogatives to the hilt, even if it’s legal to do so.” What they meant by this is that by following these rules while in power stops the political shift of when one party is the majority in office over the other. In order to keep democracy and allow them to have a say the guidelines need to be applied to all parties. This is shown today by President Trump trying to push for a unified republic in house and senate which hasn’t been achieved in decades. These kind of moves are what they mean by following these guidelines by even though having the power to unify the senate and house and to have majority in the supreme court use the residence to have a balance of both parties to ensure fairness. With these moves being made by President Trump this is what alarms democrats into why the issue of democracy is so serious now more than ever.

This issue is what Paul Starr calls “The Democratic Emergency” in this article at first emphasizes the use of forbearance or Trumps power and demanding behavior in the beginning of his presidency. From the debates shown on live television you could see how Trump not only demanded attention but also talked down to his competitors this is to what law professor Eric A. Posner, suggests “tyrannophobia is a recurring panic in America.” He also states that how the power trump uses are tyrant like and how he can “send a tweet and fire someone from a political position”. This shows the seriousness of Trumps action while in office especially those actions to suppress democracy today. This has to do with Trump using his power to send executive orders which trump has done in the efforts to override a branch of government to get his opinion of what’s best for the country forward. In the years of 2017-2018 combined Trump has already signed 88 Executive orders per (Executive Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.federalregister.gov/presidential-documents/executive-orders.)

This shows Trumps lack of care for the fairness of other political parties that go against him on these situations this shows Trump trying to push his own personal agenda on the country in an aggressive tyrant like way which is pushing the way of democracy away from having very little say and power in government. For this reasoning is why Paul Starr calls the current state of Democracy an “Emergency”. Paul states this emergency would become critical in the sense that “is that Trump would use a national emergency as a pretext for entrenching his own power, suspending civil liberties and elections. The U.S. Constitution, unlike some others, provides no clear guidance or limits on emergency powers, and as Judge Jed Rakoff argues in a recent article (“Don’t Count on the Courts”) in the New York Review of Books, the Supreme Court has a long history of according “near-total deference to the executive,” particularly when the government claims national security is at stake. In times of emergency, as in war, the law may well fall silent.

But even setting that aside the possibility of a sudden seizure of power, the Constitution is not likely to provide adequate protection. It lacks the provisions that might stop “a would-be autocrat bent on the slow dismantling of democracy,” Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq, two constitutional law professors, write in their contribution to the Sunstein volume. The Founders expected the separation of powers would enable Congress to act as a check on the president, but they didn’t anticipate polarized parties. Congressional Republicans have been all in on Trump, and so Congress hasn’t been a check on the president, and it is unlikely to become one unless Democrats win control of at least one house.” (The Democratic Emergency. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://prospect.org/article/democratic-emergency.) This in my opinion was the most important thing said in the whole article that how in the state of emergency The grounds of the constitution and separation of powers become vulnerable to the president as we have seen in the past through other ways dictators and tyrants gain power over a country. This why ironically he uses the state of democracy as an emergency because through the same way of the country entering a state of emergency is how Trump could gain power over democracy. So his message is to make the state of democracy an emergency to insure its survival in the future.

Is democracy dying or in decline which many seem to believe how does this process start to happen because it is something that happens overtime not just one bad election. Nancy Bermeo, a politics professor at Princeton and Harvard,” began her talk with a jarring reminder: Democracies don’t merely collapse, as that “implies a process devoid of will.” Democracies die because of deliberate decisions made by human beings. Usually, it’s because the people in power take democratic institutions for granted. They become disconnected from the citizenry. They develop interests separate and apart from the voters. They push policies that benefit themselves and harm the broader population. Do that long enough, Bermeo says, and you’ll cultivate an angry, divided society that pulls apart at the seams.” (Illing, S. (2017, October 13). 20 of America’s top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They’re scared. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2017/10/13/16431502/america-democracy-decline-liberalism). This was one of the most important point pushed across in the article. It really showed how today people live by political party which is meant to do the opposite where the sole purpose of having these parties in play is to make sure that everyone gets a fair say and to make everyone have equal representation while allowing a separation of powers in order to keep one branch from having too much power. That was how congress wanted it to be but with the recent trends of people voting just for party and segregating one another by party association sort of brings back to stance one with slavery and unequal rights and people not being represented. This is the matter that I believe these political articles are trying to push they are trying to save the nation from falling back into its pre-constitutional ways. That is why we must not let democracy die and help gain the balance back by any means necessary even if that means trump has to be impeached. We have the right to defend our democracy and that’s the message that is being sent.

America is not a democracy in the sense of it losing the faith of its citizens but must have hope on how to get them back in order to restore democracy to America. This article showed in a sense of working toward the future and back towards the goals of democracy in America. This was achieved by studies done by scientist study of “people’s preferences in our supposedly democratic system was explored in a 2014 study by the political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern. Four broad theories have long sought to answer a fundamental question about our government: Who rules? One theory, the one we teach our children in civics classes, holds that the views of average people are decisive. Another theory suggests that mass-based interest groups such as the AARP have the power. A third theory predicts that business groups such as the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and the National Beer Wholesalers Association carry the day. A fourth theory holds that policy reflects the views of the economic elite.” This allowed them to target the youth and be able to tell what their values are and find out why more people are going away from democracy. This was shown in an example “It’s a suspicion stoked by the fact that, across a range of issues, public policy does not reflect the preferences of the majority of Americans. If it did, the country would look radically different: Marijuana would be legal and campaign contributions more tightly regulated; paid parental leave would be the law of the land and public colleges free; the minimum wage would be higher and gun control much stricter; abortions would be more accessible in the early stages of pregnancy and illegal in the third trimester.”

References:

(Levitsky, S., & Ziblatt, D. (2018, January 27). How Wobbly Is Our Democracy? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/27/opinion/sunday/democracy-polarization.html.)

(Mounk, Y. (2018, January 31). America Is Not a Democracy. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/03/america-is-not-a-democracy/550931/). This shows most people are in agreement with similar values that democratic issues and policies that they want to push forward. I believe that by targeting and educating the youth on the values of democracy will help them understand and push forward the efforts to continue to keep democracy alive in America.

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