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Loopholes in the American democratic system

George Cattan
2021 / 7 / 14

It is well known that the American political system is the first democratic system in the world. According to the American Constitution, which was introduced in 1789, the majority of the people s elected representatives hold presidential and legislative power. During the 223 years since its implementation, some of its provisions have only been amended 27 times, the last of which was in 1992, an average of one amendment every 9 years, while other democracies in the world changed their constitutions completely several times during a much shorter period, depending on the political development of these countries and the general development of human rights in the world. The American constitutional amendments did not address all of the basic articles related to the system of government, except for a-limit-ed number, the most important of which are: the 13th amendment in 1865, which abolished slavery, and the 19th amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to run for office and vote, while the rights before that were reserved for white males only.
According to human experience, there is no one hundred percent complete democracy, and most likely it will not exist in the future. Democracy is a relative issue that differs from one country to another and from time to time. Human development over the ages and the ever-changing human needs put necessary constitutional amendments on the agenda for change to meet these needs. This applies, and becomes clearer with time, in the case of the American democratic system, which suffers from loopholes that negatively affect the democratic process practiced according to a constitution that, after nearly two and a half centuries, is no longer in some respects suitable for federal democratic American rule. And if this shortcoming is currently receiving attention and diligent work for change from the American political elites, it is receiving a lack of interest´-or-a distorted understanding of the oriental elites, ranging from the denial of American democracy and its global role to the lack of knowledge of its loopholes, some of which we will discuss.
The American political tradition enshrines majority rule, with an emphasis on minority rights. But American democratic elites wonder if this is still true. The number of Democrats who say the system is sliding toward oligarchy is constantly growing. The system of in--dir--ect presidential elections by the people takes place in two stages, the first is a --dir--ect popular election and the second is the election of the president through the so-called “Electoral College”, where the laws allow this unelected body, appointed by the presidential candidate himself, to give him their votes. The Electoral College worked in a relatively acceptable manner as desired by the “Founding Fathers” of the constitution for two centuries to secure a role for the states in electing the president in addition to the general popular role, as 41 out of 46 presidents who obtained a majority in the general popular vote, also obtained a majority in the Electoral College, except for 5 presidents.
Two of the five presidents succeeded in the past twenty years, although they did not obtain a popular majority, they did obtain an Electoral College majority. George W. Bush succeeded in 2000 over his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, who received half a million more votes than Bush in the popular vote. Trump also beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 with the Electoral College vote, even though she got three million more votes than Trump in the popular vote. Trump could have defeated Biden in 2020 if he had succeeded in another state´-or-two, even though Biden received about six million more votes in the popular vote. These extra millions, which make up the majority, seem uncalculated and wasted, while the --dir--ect election of the president gives equal weight to all votes. This prompted a steadily expanding trend calling for the abolition of the Electoral College from the constitution and reliance on --dir--ect popular elections to correct this imbalance, which appoints a president who did not receive a majority of the people s votes.
In the Senate, too, there is a complete shift in representation under the pretext of defending the rights of small states with a small population. There are states with a population of less than a million and have two representatives in the Senate, just like states with a population of more than 30 million. At the time of establishment, this was relatively reasonable, as the largest state was 13 times the size of the smallest state. Today, the largest state is 70 times the size of the smallest state, so a few hundred thousand people in Wyoming, for example, have the same strength as tens of millions of people in California´-or-New York. Currently, the Senate is evenly divided between the two major parties, but its 50 Democrats represent 41.5 million more people than the 50 Republican members of the Senate. Thus, a system designed to protect the rights of small states may turn into a partisan oligarchy. The difference will increase with time if current demographic changes continue, and it is expected that by 2040, 70% of Americans will be represented by 30 Senators, and 30% of Americans by 70 Senators. Note that the Senate is of the same importance as the House of Representatives,´-or-sometimes more. Most laws need to be ratified by both houses. If they pass through the House of Representatives, they may not pass the Senate, in whose composition a party representing a shrinking minority of the electorate can block almost all major legislation.
Even if the party does not get help from its representation in the Senate, there is another way that the law provides for a minority in the Senate, which is the so-called “Filibuster”, the right guaranteed by law to every senator to give a lengthy speech when discussing the approval of proposed legislation, and thus he can prevent it from being put to a vote because no one will be allowed to stopping him from speaking, and even if he gets tired, other members of his party will continue his mission to continue obstructing the vote. The filibuster can only be stopped with a vote of 60 out of the 100 members of the Senate. Thus, a minority of the Senate, amounting to 41 members, could block hundreds of legislation that the majority in the House of Representatives´-or-the Senate wants, and this is what the Republican senators who currently make up half of the House are threatening to do. For example, there is now a bill to-limit- the interference of money in the electoral process and other reforms to expand the right of vote, “For the People Act”. It was approved in the House a week ago, and the Republican senators threatened to prevent its ratification by using the "filibuster"!
Even in the House of Representatives, where representation is supposed to be based on population, there is a way to manipulate it, so-called gerrymandering, which provides the party that dominates the state legislature to manipulate the remap of electoral districts every ten years after the census has taken place, this provides an opportunity to change the demographics of the constituencies to make it appropriate for the dominant party in the state to increase its representation in the federal Congress. Reformists say that a more democratic system may create more districts, more representation,´-or-to --convert-- the redrawing of electoral districts to neutral, independent bodies that do not represent the dominant parties.
All of these loopholes, if they continue and expand, will negatively affect the American democratic system by weakening the rule of the majority in favor of the rule of the minority, especially if we add a very important factor in the American elections where the laws enable the electoral money provided by the big companies to play a key role in the success of the candidates they support which will adopt the issuance of Laws that reduce taxes paid by companies´-or-allow them to invest in any field, even if it is harmful to the environment and has negative effects on the lives of residents. Thus, money provides for the election of representatives of the people, and if it were not for the large companies money, they would not have enough votes to win. The current laws do not allow millions to be given to the candidate --dir--ectly, but they do not prevent advertising for him in the media, which costs millions, on the pretext that this is the right of large corporations within the freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution.
These loopholes are well known and receive attention from a large majority of voters and hundreds of civil society organizations. In a comprehensive Gallup poll, it was found that 61% of Americans support abolishing the Electoral College, while 35% support it. One of the main arguments for opposing the change that requires amendments to the US Constitution is that there is a broad conservative trend that believes that the constitutional heritage left by the "Founding Fathers” must be preserved unchanged, as a text that is almost a sacred taboo for some, although time has passed and no longer keeps pace with the development of American society. Some of its articles have become an obstacle to democracy, which is essentially the rule of the majority. In addition to the extreme difficulty of making an amendment, a minority of one-third plus one in Congress and one-fourth plus one of the state representatives can prevent any amendment to the Constitution. For the amendment to take place, it needs two-thirds of the votes of both houses of Congress, and then the approval of three-quarters of the legislative authorities of the states.
The movement for change is expanding steadily, and its success, in my opinion, is almost guaranteed because the constitution and American democratic laws give definite rights to freedom of opinion and expression by all available means. After all, change is coming, but how long will it take for it to be achieved? This is what is left to time to be cleared.
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