The Strength of U.S. Democracy

In this blog, I write about the major issues facing the U.S. such as debt, inflation, slow economic growth, U.S. strength relative to the rest of the world, poverty, racial issues, etc.  I also write about important international issues such as global warming, democracy vs. autocracy, the rise of China, etc.  A quick scroll through the recent weekly blog posts will refer to many of these topics.

In recent years many people have questioned the strength of U.S. democracy, suggesting that democracy is in decline or that our democratic principles are weakening.  I believe this to be a false assessment.  In a free and open society like ours, things will inevitably happen which are shocking to society.  Opinions will be expressed by some that are widely denounced by others.  But for me, having a cacophony of ideas and actions in constant public churn is the very nature of a free and open society.  Consider:

  • The fundamental strength of our democracy is the decentralized nature of our basic governmental structure. We are a republic, a collection of states, each with many rights and responsibilities of their own, as guaranteed by the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The states control many public functions within their borders such as education, responsibility for roads, law enforcement, election procedures, etc.  States will inevitably do things differently from each other, subject only to the requirements of national law and the U.S. Constitution.
  • The national Congress consists of representatives from each of the fifty states, chosen at the state level. The President is selected through an electoral college that allots each state a specific number of votes depending primarily on population.
  • The sanctity of the ballot box is of fundamental importance to public trust. Elections are regulated by the states and conducted at the county level.  Procedures for voter identification, mail-in and absentee voting are determined at the state level.  There are 3143 counties in the U.S.  Election fraud could only happen at the county level.  This makes it unlikely to happen and highly dispersed if it ever does.  Such local control of election procedures is a huge protector of the integrity of U.S. democracy.
  • In the 2020 presidential election, there were a number of pandemic-related voting irregularities.  For example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline for mail-in voting beyond election day, contrary to Pennsylvania state law.  Milwaukie WI election officials used drop boxes contrary to Wisconsin state law.  The U.S. Supreme Court has just recently heard arguments for the case of Moore vs Harper that should lead to a resolution of the issue of election authority within each state.
  • President Donald Trump’s denialism about the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election has presented a stress test for our democratic system that is being weathered very well, in my opinion. His campaign filed over 60 lawsuits to overturn the election results.   None of them were successful.  The January 6, 2021 break-in at the U.S. Capitol was disgraceful but had no effect on the election outcome.  Trump-supported election deniers in the 2022 midterm elections did very poorly overall and cost the Republicans control of the Senate for the upcoming session of Congress.  I believe that Trump was a successful President but now has become a great liability to the Republican Party.

Conclusion.  We have a thriving democratic system that is greatly admired around the world.  Its strength is based on its underlying decentralized nature, with the states in charge of many governmental functions and elections conducted at the individual county level.  Donald Trump has presented a stress test, but our democratic system has survived intact, and the appeal of Donald Trump has now been greatly diminished.

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