Democracy in America – How to Make Democracy Work Better

Democracy is a system of government that allows for pooled knowledge and highlights the importance of all people, something Americans are proud to be known for. However, our nation’s current political climate has made it more difficult for Americans to find confidence in their democratic system. Many citizens are questioning whether our democracy is working and, if not, how to fix it.

Those questions are important to answer because the success of democracy depends on the people and their ability to engage in political discussion and debate. A recent poll showed that nearly half of the country believes democracy in america is not working well. However, there are a number of things we can do to make our democracy work better.

THE FIRST WAY TO MAKE DEMOCRACY WORK WELL IS TO BRING IT INTO LINE WITH THE OTHER LEGISLATURES IN THE WORLD. Unlike most democracies, ours is a Constitutional republic composed of semi-sovereign states with centrally controlled territory. The Founders purposefully set our federal government apart from true democracy and allowed the states to manage who had the right to vote in the House of Representatives. For example, they were fine with limiting voters to land-owning white men. They also set up Electoral Colleges to give small states more power in the presidential election. Today, these laws are being abused and need to be changed.

We can also change the way we conduct business in our national government by bringing back congressional prerogatives and reining in the Supreme Court’s power grabs. For instance, we could strip the Court of its jurisdiction in cases where it tries to overturn policy decisions made by Congress and the executive branch. This would help rebalance coequal branches and prevent judicial overreach.

Another way to make democracy work is to reintroduce the concept of civic engagement and participation by restoring town meetings, which allow citizens to discuss and vote on issues affecting their local communities. This will help restore a sense of trust in the political process and encourage citizens to take their role in democracy seriously. Lastly, we need to make it easier for people to run for office by lowering the barriers of entry and increasing public funding. Currently, to be elected to any office of significance, a candidate must spend a lot of money. This limits the pool of candidates and makes them beholden to those who write the checks.

When all these pieces come together, we can ensure that our democracy works as it should. To do otherwise is to invite a dangerous rise of despotism in our land. Those who do not want to see this happen should make it their business to safeguard our democracy’s foundations. By doing so, they will give future generations the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor and make the most of a great democracy. By Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, courtesy of the University of Chicago Press. This article may be archived and redistributed, in whole or in part, provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and a copyright notice is carried with the reprint and that no fee is charged for access.