On declaration of independence, theUnited States as a country was made up of thirteen different states as opposedto the over 50 there is today.
Nevertheless, the unique nature of the new statepresented a challenge regarding political representation and the approach ofgoing about the election of leaders at the federal level. To take care of thisunique nature of the country’s political structure, the founding fathersdeveloped a special form of administrative structure that integrated twosystems of governments that still exist to this day. The structure enshrined inthe country’s constitution created a single federal government and severalstate governments. This system of government is commonly referred to as theconstitutional Federal Republic or a representative democracy, which is afederation of several numbers of states with a representative democracy. Thismeans that the United States is not a direct democracy despite the country’sstrong democratic tradition which is famous throughout the world (Keyssar, 2009).
There are some aspects of America’srepresentative democracy that explains why it cannot be considered a fulldemocracy in its real sense. Being a nation created by the union of differentstates each with special cultural values and political interests, one of themain challenges the founding fathers were faced with after independence was onthe issue of political representation at the federal level. The foundingfathers figured out that a simple popular in the election of the country’s presidentwas not going to be the best option in ensuring that all the states making upthe union had a say in determining the country’s president. An electoral systemnamed Electoral College was created by the founding fathers to ensure all thestates within the union had a say in determining the country’s federalpresident and vice president. Electoral College was made up of representativesdirectly elected by Americans from the different states within the union. Eachstate was allocated to contribute a certain number representatives or electorsdepending on various factors within each of the states including the size ofthe population and geographical surface area. The different states were howevergiven a jurisprudence to determine the geographical boundaries of variousadministrative units from where the eligible American citizens within the statedirectly elected the electors who would then go on to vote in the electoralcollege for the president of the United States.
Gerrymandering,the process by which states draw and redraw their local electoral districts isanother reason the United States cannot be seen as a real democracy. Thispractice which has been around for the past two hundred years is one of themost important factors impeding democracy in America today because it enablesalteration of boundaries for partisan gains. Both of America’s two majorpolitical parties have taken advantage of this provision to manipulate electionof elected representatives in their favor in their stronghold states and effectivelyeliminating the chances of competitive elections at the state level andsubsequently federal level. As a result, elections in many states are always aforegone conclusion because Gerrymandering has turned states into either apredominantly blue or red states.
The average margins of victory for the Houseof Representatives elections in 2016 were 37 percent while the number ofnon-seriously competitive congressional races totaled to 42 of the 50 states.This statistic, which has majorly been contributed by Gerrymandering, does notreflect how the situation in ideal democracies is supposed to look (Chen etal., p. 256).The process of electing thepresident is another reason why the United States cannot be considered as areal democracy. In an ideal democracy, a president or a leader of a country isdemocratically elected through a popular vote whereby all eligible citizens ofthe country are allowed to choose their preferred presidential candidate. Thecandidate who gains majority of the votes from the citizens is declared thewinner.
The United States of America’s system of electing the president is arepresentative democracy in that the winner is not directly elected by thecitizens but rather the Electoral College electors who are themselves directlyelected by the citizens. Although the popular presidential votes are heldconcurrently with the Electoral College vote every four years, the choice ofthe Electoral College is the determining vote on who is declared the winnerregardless of the outcome of the popular vote. Although the outcome of thepopular vote and the electoral college vote have been the same in the majorityof the American elections over the years, several cases have happened where onecandidate wins the popular vote while the other wins the electoral collegevote. In all of these cases, the choice of the few representatives hastriumphed the choice of the majority of the American population. The mostrecent example of this scenario America happened in last year’s electionswhereby the Republican Party candidate Donald Trump was declared the winnerdespite losing the popular vote to the Democratic Party candidate HillaryClinton by a margin of more than two million votes. This system where theoutcome of the popular vote is overlooked at the expense of the voted off a fewrepresentatives is against democratic values. Therefore, America cannot be saidto be a real democracy (Maskin & Amartya, p. 62).
Another reason why America cannotbe considered a real democracy is that of the rampant non-democratic practicesby different stakeholders of the American political system particularly thepresidential candidates themselves. Presidential or any election are consideredprocesses rather than a one-day event. The process of election involves severalevents that take place over several months or years all of which have toobserve the values of democracy. Experience over the years has however shownthat non-democratic practices in electoral processes mainly in raising fundsfor campaigns have become normalized by candidates from both of America’s twolargest parties. Wallstreet companies and various lobby groups from the privatesector such as the large pharmaceutical companies hold huge sway on thecountry’s political landscape even more than the public. The dependence of thepresidential candidates on donations from these players in exchange forcommitments compromises the integrity of the candidates in serving the interestof the general population once they got to the office.
Candidates find italmost impossible to run successful campaigns without donations from this hugecorporation meaning the few individuals in charge of the cooperation hold abigger influence in the outcomes of presidential elections more than themajority of Americans. This again is against the values and essence ofdemocracy (Brunell, p. 683).