4 interesting ways US citizens can partake in democracy!

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One way the US citizens can take part in a democracy is by voting. There are countless opportunities for local citizens to vote at a local state and federal level. At a local election, people can vote for their dog catchers, sheriff, or school board. At the state level, they can vote for their governor, at a federal level, you can vote for members of congress, the senate and president.  The number of elections that are held in the US suggests that it is very democratic, and provides many chances for people to get involved. 

However, there are significant issues with regards to voting such as low turnout rates, particularly among ethnic minority groups as well as some voters being prevented from voting due to previous convictions. The USA has extremely high levels of people not participating in elections, for example, only 67% of voters took part in  the 2020 U.S presidential elections.

In previous elections, this has fallen below 60%. The US presidential election in 2020 ethnic turnout rates read as white americans 71%, black americans 58%,  Asian americans 63% and latino 54%. Therefore this shows the significant voting differences between ethnic groups, and how different races have different voting, therefore, America is not democratic as we first thought.

There are thousands of positions within a democratic America that people can put themself forward as a candidate. At local level they can put themself up for local sheriff, mayor and school board. At state level someone can put themself forward for governor, for example Arnold Swarcheger was governor of california, and at federal level, someone can put in to be congressman, congress woman and president. In analysis, because of the many positions that people can stand for, this demonstrates the significant extent of the US democracy, which is balanced by contradiction. 

However, the cost of standing for election and running a campaign is large. The total cost in 2016 to stand and run a campaign was just one $6 billion. To get someone elected to congress, the average spend in 2020 was $27 million, the more you spend, the more likely you are to win. For example, 90% of candidates who have spent the most cash have actually won the election. In analysis, having a well financed campaign gives you a much greater chance of winning. Therefore, it’s great that so many opportunities exist in American democracy, however, the opportunities seem to be only open to the very wealthy of America.

Another way that American citizens can influence decision making is through statewide ballots. These are sometimes called propositions. 33 of 50 American states have used statewide ballots to legalise Marujana. For example, in Michigan, adults 21 and over are allowed to smoke marujana, grow up to 12 plants, have 10 ounces in their house and even set up their own business and sell it. The majority of people voted to eliminate tax on feminine hygiene products, more commonly known as the pink tax. These examples show the significant extent of US democracy.

Citizens at a state and national level have many, many opportunities to influence decision making in the usa. The fact that individuals have the right to hold statewide ballots on a variety of issues that they think are important and need resolved, shows the significance of US democracy. It is clearly an extremely democratic nation. 

However, again there are major issues with US democracy. Many voters do not register which means they don’t have a voice, also there are turnout issues between ethnic groups which indicates that some groups such as white Americans have higher participation levels than others that access, so democracy is still often impacted by ethnic minorities and colours of skin. 

Another way that Americans can take part is by protesting. Americans have the right to protest because it is enshrined in the US constitution ‘ the right to protest’ . Street protests are a way that Americans have been making their voices heard, for the last few years, throughout various different groups. One of the most successful protest groups is black lives matter, which has been around since 2013, trying to tackle racism, especially in the criminal justice system. As a result of these protests, many US states have now banned choke holds to restrain suspects, and the BLM hashtag was used over 50 million times in the first week.

In analysis, all of this shows that protesting in the usa can influence decision making, and it allows Americans to democratically express their anger, and how it has affected them, to try and see change and improvement. 

However, some BLM protests have turned out to be very violent, and groups such as antifa have used BLM to attack police and protesters against BLM.

The violence that takes place on many of these protests deter citizens from partaking in these protests, and exercising their democratic and constitutional rights. Many people actually believe that the violent protests are actually hindering the cause, instead of helping it. 

In evaluation, it can be argued with great certainty that the US is one of the world’s leading democracies with many opportunities for citizens to take part in a variety of democratic ways. They can vote for their local dog catcher, all the way through to the world’s leading politician, the US president. 

They can vote on statewide ballots, for example 33 out of 50 states have legalised smoking cannabis legally. This highlights the extent of American democracy. They can also stand for election and even protest about issues. BLM was successful in reducing black male deaths in custody by 20% and chokeholds have been banned.

For more on US democracy, click here!- https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/lesson-plans/Government_and_You_handouts.pdf

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