Count the votes and pray: Is American democracy in danger?
Following the election of President Donald Trump, the legitimacy of American democracy has come into question. And with good reason.
Mounds of “alternative facts,” restrictions of the press and numerous executive orders have engendered criticism of a seemingly picture-perfect institution.
The Electoral College has leaned in favor of a populist-nationalist movement, causing the United States to finally catch a glimpse of democracy in action.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, democracy refers to “a method of group decision making characterized by a kind of equality among the participants.”
This general principle can be exercised when citizens participate freely in open, elections, hold representatives accountable and freely assemble and associate with one another.
Specifically, a white, middle-class dairy farmer in Michigan has the same weight in electing government officials as an impoverished mother of three living in upstate New York.
While campaign funding and super PACs have proven to widely influence public appeal, the principle still remains the same—one person, one vote.
While some may argue that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton ought to have won, as she claimed 2.9 million more votes than her Republican rival, many forget that the intent of the Electoral College was to ensure the legitimacy of the electorate and to safeguard an informed representation of the American people as having the final say in the presidency.
According to the Heritage Foundation, this allows the electoral system to “[avoid] the ‘tyranny of the majority’ inherent to pure democratic systems, while still allowing a ‘sense of the people’ to be reflected in the new American government.”
In this case, citizens vote not for who they think ought to be president but for who they think their designated elector should be.
Democratic institutions such as these will continue to survive and serve the people, even if some wear and tear does persist along the way.
According to Ryan Avent of The Economist, “liberal political institutions seem to be quite resilient over long stretches of time. Liberal democracy tends to emerge and persist in places with a strong civil society.”
In other words, as long as unions, volunteer organizations, social reform groups and the like continue to create action and demand attention from the state, democracy will be fine.
Citizenship demands that people take action for themselves and care for their neighbor instead of relying upon government programs to cover those duties for them.
Even Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization for democracy around the world, rates the United States as having a completely free democracy with the highest of ratings in political and civil freedoms as of 2016.
The Trump presidency has by no means ruined the foundations of the Union, and citizens will continue to thrive, even in spite of our figurehead.
Rebekah Tuchscherer is a freshman political science and journalism major from Milbank, S.D.