Democracy Essay

Complete and true democracy is almost impossible to achieve, and has been the primary goal of many nations, beginning from ancient civilizations of Greece and Roman Empire, all the way to the government of the United States today. There are a few essential characteristics which must be present in a political system for it to be even considered democratic. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention. Another necessary characteristic which legitimates government is that every vote must count equally: one vote for every person. For this equality to occur, all people must be subject to the same laws, have equal civil rights, and be allowed to freely express their ideas. Minority rights are also crucial in a legitimate democracy. No matter how unpopular their views, all people should enjoy the freedoms of speech, press and assembly. Public policy should be made publicly, not secretly, and regularly scheduled elections should be held. All of these elements and government processes are a regular part of the American government. Yet, even with all the above elements present in the governmental operations of our country, numerous aspects of the governmental process undermine its legitimacy, and bring to question if United States government is really a true democracy. Considering the achievement of complete democracy is most likely impossible, the political system of American government is democratic, but its democratic legitimacy is clearly limited in many respects. One of the first notable aspects of the United States government which brings the democratic legitimacy into question is the ever-occurring bias between classes of people that participate in the electoral voting. Class is determined by income and education, and differing levels of these two factors can help explain why class bias occurs. For example, because educated people tend to understand politics more, they are more likely to vote. In fact, political studies done at Princeton in 1995 clearly showed that 76 percent of all voters had college degrees. The same studies have been done in the next three years and showed the percentage steadily holding at 76 percent, except in 1997, when it dropped down by two percent (Avirett 11). This four to one ration of college educated voters versus non-college educated voters shows a clear inequality and bias in the American voting system. This also brings about the aspect of income. People with high income and education have more

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