Democracy and elections can sometimes be ‘messy’

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Metro Services

Metro Services

We are only four weeks away from this year’s presidential election. The focus is directly on the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton… a choice that is a nightmare for many members of both parties. Still, we live in a two-party democracy and voters must play the hand that is dealt.
The two candidates during their campaigns have traded harsh accusations and condemnations. Their beliefs about government’s role in the lives of citizens are far apart, and they don’t like each other.
This election is exceptional in that so many Americans think both candidates have serious flaws. Clinton is described as untrustworthy, and her opponents say that her election will mean another four (or eight) years of Obama policies … policies they view as leading the nation down the wrong path.
Trump is described by his opponents as a narcissist and bully, and lacking in basic understandings of how our government functions as a world power. The thought of him in control of the vast authority of the nation’s chief executive worries many people, and is unimaginable for his most vocal opponents.
All presidential elections are important, but this one is unlike anything seen before. It is an election that seems almost impossible to decipher. For many, a vote for one candidate is more a vote against the other instead of a show of true support. Yet, it is not a reason to stay home and not vote.
Yes, many are unhappy with the way things have gone in our country. For millions, the recovery of our capitalistic system has failed to generate the job opportunities or wage gains that have been enjoyed by past generations. Yes, unemployment is at 5 percent, but too many of the new jobs have been at low wages with scant benefits. They haven’t been sufficient to give people hope of attaining the American dream.
The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” continues to widen. Eight years ago, Congress bailed out banks and the financial empire in our country. They have baled out big business, but has done little to help the average American.
The election of a new president will not fix things in our country. Change must begin at home in every district by electing men and women to Congress who want to see their hometown people prosper. Too many congressmen and senators prosper at the hands of lobbyists, therefore, they forget about the people back home who elected them and instead vote the way the lobbyists and big money directs them too.
The November election will be the first one since Russia invaded Ukraine, since the Islamic State took control of huge swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, and since last-ditch negotiations began to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The next Congress could well be asked to take fateful votes on war-and-peace issues that will dramatically affect every American.
Other topics that will be up for debate include immigration. Should we provide benefits to illegal immigrants? Should we provide them free health care? This year’s election allows voters to express support for the kind of sensible, bipartisan immigration overhaul that passed the Senate but has stalled in the House.
Americans should be upset with the nature of politics today. Congress, in particular, has repeatedly failed at basic governance and ignored clear public sentiment.
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest.” This quotation, a comment by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons in 1947 (the actual author of the statement is unknown), is certainly important for those of us in the United States to remember during this time. Democracy is “messy.”
It is also new from the perspective of history. Democracy in the United States began less than three centuries ago. Not until 1913 were United States senators elected by popular vote. Women suffrage dates to 1920. Our democracy remains a work in progress.
Essential to the continuation of democracy is some method to limit the power of its leaders and a respect for those limitations. The United States Constitution adopted in 1791, limited presidential and congressional powers in various ways. A presidential election every four years was called for and this year is the 58th time we have had a presidential election.
Whether we enjoy them or not, we need elections, political parties and political campaigns to focus and promote our viewpoints in a non-violent way. This helps preserve the many freedoms which make this a great country.
The world has more than 7 billion people; only 315 million have the privilege of living in the United States. Many people in other countries would love to live in the United States with its “messy democracy.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox