Democracy in America Today

Axia College of University of Phoenix


Final Project: Democracy in America

Over time, American Democracy has been transformed from its original foundation’s form. With all its adaptations, it still seems to be a well structured democratic form that supports our nation. The structure of our democracy has both strengths and weaknesses. In this essay, I will provide a review of the state of our democracy in America today. This essay will include my own viewpoint on the weaknesses and strengths of our governmental structure and include a number of subjects that are part of our constitutional rights, civil liberties, civic values, the role of our President and bureaucratic agencies in our government today.

There have been many changes within America’s democracy that have allowed us to arrive at our current state. Some of these changes have actually harmed our democratic process and our citizens. Some have helped us to achieve greater things within our democracy. Some changes have weakened our structure and our ability to take care of ourselves. Some changes have been benign, exerting little overall effect on our democratic processes. We face many obstacles and problems in our society today, but we do not always recognize the threat that these pose to our government and security.

The one thread that all American’s have in common in their position on democracy is that our democracy’s health affects every man, woman and child in our country and affects all those who live here. Everyone has their own perspective on the issue of democracy. One such view is that “Democracy is the means to select any policy maker and government, in which the policy would then represent the citizens’ preferences” (Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2008, p.14). To me, democracy is the pinnacle of justice, peace and freedom for all people. The most basic freedom accorded to every U.S. citizen is the right to free speech. This is not a universal freedom in other countries and is not to be taken lightly. We also enjoy several other unique freedoms. These are the right to vote, the right to adhering to any religion or to believe and follow no religion, and the right to act as long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others. (Edwards, et al. 2008).

I do feel that our government is quite corrupt. It seems that the trend is towards government worsening our society and this is not likely to change soon. The very right to say this is inherent in our democracy. Criticism of the government includes review of the manner in which governmental officials conduct business. Political instability, the misuse of power and moral decay are all factors that increase the wealth and power of those in places of privilege, allowing them to increase their power further by political access and appointment. (Edwards, et al. 2008). This ability leads only to further corruption. The members of our society that have been marginalized economically are not having their needs met in the current political climate. This lower class has emerged in a way that is limiting their basic rights. The decay in the moral fiber of our society has led government to pass laws that control aspects of our behavior which common sense should rule, such as school prayer and smoking in public places. This process infringes on rights since some members of society act irresponsibly.

Everyone has their individual view of how democracy should function. In my own view, positive changes need to be affected in governmental process for equality and opportunity to be accorded to every American citizen.

The beliefs and values that all members of our society share are our American Civic Values. The most basic belief is freedom and justice for all people. Our democratic society uses a number of programs, laws and regulation to strengthen our civic values. Individuals use volunteerism and sound ethical practices to strengthen them. When we teach our children good civic values, we are teaching them to respect one another, to share and to take responsibility for each other in a positive, supportive way. These things engender a strong civil and political culture that better serves us all.

For example, when community members help one another and stand up for what is right, refusing to tolerate bigotry, drug trafficking and other harmful practices, we engender respect for one another and have healthier communities. The penalties for allowing ourselves to stray from our civic values are imposed through the enforcement of laws and regulations. Anti-discrimination laws uphold the basic right of freedom for all. These laws enforce the rights of individuals to pursue their livelihoods and to live where they please, regardless of their race, ethnic or cultural background, gender or their sexual or religious preferences.

Our world has changed in both technological and economic ways that threaten the intentions and accomplishments of our founding fathers. The Constitution is at risk of being overrun in our current political climate. The gap between the rich and poor in American society had been narrowed during the last 50 years of the last century. It has been widened during the past decade and threatens our social stability. Many people like to say that America is a place of equality and opportunity. In my opinion, it is still a place of disparity and inequality. The most basic element of our democratic process that should be its greatest strength has become our greatest weakness. This is a great issue among those in our society who cannot find access to services or opportunity and is swept under the rug by those members of our society who have been able to find a way to succeed inside the system.

A new type of inequality has crept over us in the recent past. It is the way in which government shows bias to one group of citizens over another. These economic disparities strengthen the cause of those who have against those who do not have. They relate specifically to the disparate distribution of resources, education and income potential. Those members of our society who have been marginalized have much less political voice and therefore can expect to continue to receive less in the way of equal treatment and equal access to services and education. Reviewing the Constitution and American Democracy in light of what I have learned in this course, I find that the Bill of Rights is the foundation of all our rights as American citizens. The Bill of Rights protects us from congress passing any law which would abridge our rights to practice our own religion, our freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government. I believe that protection of civil liberties is essential and has to be carefully guarded in our society. The government takes away more rights, often surreptitiously. Freedoms are challenged in ways that have little to do with the intention stated by the government when they enact new laws, such as the Patriot Act, which allows monitoring of private citizens internet use. Spying of U.S. citizens has also become acceptable under current law. Why would that be acceptable? This constitutes unreasonable search and should never have been made law to start with. The level of privacy invasion in today’s U.S. society is somewhat shocking. It is implicit in settings where a large number of people would be at risk, such as in airport travel screenings.

There are a wide variety of ways in which it is up to all of us to strengthen our communities by upholding civic values in our lives. All of the rights that we stifle will continue to affect American citizens in their daily lives. It is up to us as citizens to take responsibility for our rights. We have no right not to know what is being done in our name. This country was founded on first on freedom and it is time to regain civil liberty and equal rights.

The founding fathers framed our United States Constitution so that we would have an established, stable form of government that would function at the will of the people. They designed our government as three branches that were to equally share power in balance with one another. These are the Legislative Branch (Congress), the Executive Branch (Presidential) and the Judicial Branch (The Courts). The stability afforded by the interplay of these three branches is the strength of our government as a whole.

A formal system of checks and balances was established to control each of the three branches. This limits their power so that one branch cannot dominate the government. This system is essential to the proper working of our democracy. The Electoral College was designed to eliminate corruption in our system. It instead serves unethical government officials. The electoral system does protect Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The electoral system is meant to allow a group of officials to make the final decision on the election of the U.S. President. The Electoral College system has an extensive background and is well grounded in our current government. I do not, however, believe that it truly serves the American people to give them representation by vote. It gives government officials the right to elect who they see fit instead of taking the straight one man one vote to elect our President. This is one of the basic precepts of democracy and so, I feel, the electoral process thwarts the intention of democracy. Many people say they do not vote because their vote will not count under the electoral process. Elimination of the electoral system would likely bring an increase in voter turnout and eliminate apathy toward our system.

The U.S. Constitution is grounded in a system of power by the people for the people. We can support and help our President to succeed through being actively involved in our governmental processes. This core value of participation by the people in the interest of the people as a whole has been lost in our country. The majority is meant to rule our government, not the other way around. Minority values are to be represented in our government as well.

The Constitutional powers of our President is accorded allows them the authority to make decisions that affect our immediate national security. The role of “Commander in Chief” is the most important of all of the President’s functions. The President is limited to a reasonable authority through exercising the checks and balances that are in place in our government. The President’s main job is to protect the democratic process in our country. This is the source of our safety and stability.

A number of different bureaucratic agencies have direct effects on my daily life. Some of these are the United States Postal Service (USPS), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Each one of these agencies is designed to serve different needs of Americans and to protect the public at large.

We work around the schedules of these agencies so that we can get a motor vehicle or commercial vehicle license, purchase private or public land and to protect our business and personal interests. Some of these agencies have regulatory functions, such as the EPA and others provide us with services, such as the USPS. The requirements that they place in our path during our process is one of red tape that involves considerable performance on our part to meet standards of eligibility. Even things that do not require us to deal directly with government agencies, such as receiving many prescription medications from our health provider, require that they meet regulations and legal requirements to get into our hands.

The matter of governing ourselves is one of our greatest privileges and responsibilities. I believe that our founding fathers did an excellent job of framing a structured government that operates on the basis of morals and strong values. Some changes do need to be affected to discontinue political corruption in our country. The marginalization of many members of our society through economic disparity has yielded political access and corruption in the wealthier members. This is not the democracy that American was built upon. Only with true justice, peace and equality are we doing our best as a nation.


G. Edwards III, R. Lineberry, & M. Wattenberg. (2008). Government in America People, Politics, and Policy. Retrieved on November 9, 2009.