(LibertySociety.com) – As a constitutional republic, the United States operates as a representative democracy with all the benefits and potential risks that often beset a country primarily governed by its citizenry.
The people elect officials to create policy and enact laws on their behalf in a representative democracy. In a direct democracy, citizens vote on every system, policy and law. Larger countries tend to turn to representative democracy due to the impracticality of having a massive population vote on every government aspect.
Common characteristics of American democracy include:
- A system of checks and balances created through the division of governance into the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
- Recognition of the fundamental dignity of each citizen and their inherent right to liberty and happiness.
- Acceptance of the necessity of compromise as a buffer against tyranny by majority obstructionism by a minority.
- Respect for the equality of all citizens regardless of race, gender, religion, or social position.
Four Issues Threatening America’s Constitutional Republic
American democracy faces four main challenges as it continues moving into the 21st Century.
- Income inequality: Integral to the American Story is the belief that it is a place of opportunity where anyone can rise from poverty and ascend to wealth, where an honest day’s work provides a living wage. Unfortunately, socioeconomic disparity rules the day with the rich getting more affluent and the middle class rapidly moving towards extinction.
- Voter turnout: Thomas Jefferson famously noted you get “the government you deserve” through elections. The same idea holds when citizens fail to vote. Only about 55% of voting-age citizens turned out for the 2016 presidential election, the lowest since 1996.
- Government investment: Investment in public services such as non-military research, education, and infrastructure is key to the survival of any democracy. Not only does it secure America’s place in an increasingly competitive global economy, but it also provides jobs.
- Political gridlock: The final contributor to the decline of America’s constitutional republic is the deterioration of compromise. At one time, gridlock resulted from disputes between the country’s two parties. And while that remains true in recent years, internal conflict within each party threatens governance as well.
Fortunately, none of those problems are insurmountable. But it will take an effort by every American. Getting out the vote is a great way to begin.
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