The challenges of democracy in the United States center on promotion of democracy in all the government systems and departments. This is because Americans have built a long history of democracy since its independence. A good example is the opposition to women suffrage are the challengers of democracy. Authoritarianism in governance is a threat to democracy in the United States because it undermines the democratic principles. Another challenge of democracy concerns the myths that have been held for a long time by dictators that democracy has some element of indiscipline that hinders development. America is in crisis because of the decline of civil values that form the basis for democracy in the country. Civic values are significant pillars of democracy in America and they are threatened by dictatorship. The advocates of civic values would win since it is the majority of Americans who want democracy to prevail in the country to prevent the country from going back to the dark days. (Arthur 2004 )
The constitution is a very important document in the governance of America. It is actually within the constitution that democratic principles are framed and protected from abuse by autocratic leaders. Dictatorship has no place in the American society because of the good constitution that has shaped the law of the land. (Edwards et al 2008)
In the constitution I like the Bill of Rights most. This part of the constitution provides the rights and freedoms that are enjoyed by all the citizens of the country. Each and every citizen has a right to live and do other very important things that are all protected in the constitution.
I like least about the part of presidency. The constitution of America provides for a lot of power on the institution and this is not well if democracy has to be maintained. Excessive powers bestowed to the president make him the most powerful person in the world. This is not good for democracy as it makes the office to be most coveted and can bring back the country back to autocracy. Keeping in mind that power is addictive as some people have argued, presidency can make a leader to stick to power and this would be undermining the principles of democracy. (Arthur 2004 ) I would advocate for change in the institution of presidency to make the president more of a leader than a ruler.
In the civic rights of America I value most the freedom of speech which allows individuals to freely express what they feel and think about their country. This provides a good opportunity for the citizens to criticize the government if they feel that the leadership is failing. This is an indicator of true democracy. People having freedom to express themselves is a symbol of democracy being put in practice. In the bill of rights we do not enjoy the freedom from unlawful custody and punishment. At times the law enforcers can be corrupt and can arrest suspects and lock them unlawfully even if they know their rights. Better systems should be put in place to ensure that the law enforcers do not abuse this right. I would advocate for this freedom to save people from abusive law enforcers who take advantage of their positions to harass innocent citizens. (Rahat 2007 )
The Electoral College has a number of consequences that do not go well with the spirit of democracy and national unity. This system only focuses on the populous states which have been described to be electoral rich. This undermines democracy since all citizens despite their states have a right to elect their leaders in a fair system. This system of voting discriminates against some states that are considered not to be populous.
This system is sufficient to elect a popular president like the just concluded elections in which for the first time Americans have chosen to be led by the African American president. This shows that indeed this system of electing the president is sufficient and effective since the current president won by the majority of the people who voted.
Political participation affects elections because of the fact it has power to change the outcome of elections. For instance political participation by religious groups can make a presidential candidate win or loose an election. Political participation should be encouraged since the more the number of people who participate the more the country strengthens its democracy. It is through political participation that the citizens get to know the challenges facing leadership in the country. It is very difficult to understand issues of governance without participating in the politics which lead to governance through elections. (Rahat 2007 )
In the civil service I would make changes in terms of appointments so that this group of people is allowed to participate in political decisions in the country. Civil servants are denied the right to participate in politics because they are government appointees.
Political participation is a good thing and should be encouraged because it promotes democracy as many people are involved in the elections instead of a few wealthy individuals.
The legislative process in America is not complicated as such. I think it is too simplified. But I cannot say that it is too easy to enact a law because a bill has to go through all the stages before becoming a law. I think in many countries this process is still the same. And that America as a sovereign state has not had a problem with making laws. The most important thing in the law making process is the will of those who are involved for instance the author, the senators and the governor. If they decide to ruin the country with bad laws, it is actually in their will. The congress as one of the institutions of governance in the United States has a weakness in its structure that makes members only focus on winning alone and not the issues that are affecting the country. Another weakness is that congress does not oversee effectively on the activities of the executive as another institution in governance of the federal states. Congress does not have a significant say in the public agenda. The fact that congress has independence is strength in itself as it cannot be manipulated by the executive. I think the weaknesses supersede the strengths of this institution of governance.
The most important role of the president in America is that he is the head of state. This is because by being the head of government, he is indeed the symbol of peace and unity for all Americans. This is because the president is brought to power in free fair and democratic elections in which the citizens decide that he should be the leader. The least role of the president concerns the party leadership whereby he is the chief of the party and advocates for the interests of the party members who are supportive of his policies. He therefore helps them to get appointments into public offices.
The least power of the president concerns the appointment of judges in the legislature. This is a very significant weakness that denies the judiciary the independence it deserves.
One role I would like to be added on the institution of presidency concerns chief advocacy of civic rights. With this role the president should be involved in presiding over appointment of chief custodians of civic rights in the country. With this role the president would contribute towards social equality and would help to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
The role I would like to be removed is the chief of executive. This is because; this role makes the president look more of a king when actually he should be the leader of the executive and not the dictator or boss of the executive.
On powers if I were to add one power then it would be the power of the president to acknowledge and recognize the poorest people in the country. With this power the president through adequate advisory resources can identify the poorest in the country and work towards uplifting them to higher levels. For instance one or people can be identified in every representative region. The power of the presidency concerning commander in chief should be removed. This can be a greater effort towards making the army an independent institution charged with the responsibility of defending the country. Commander in chief is among the powers that have resulted in abuse of presidential office because of the feeling of impunity bearing in mind of the enormous resources in terms of the armed forces and the police.
Concerning bureaucracy I think there should be less influence on the Americans. This is because there are enough systems already in place to ensure that the correct thing is done at the right time. The available bureaucracy ensures that the citizens are protected enough from suspect businesses and products. This is why products and services have to undergo certain bureaucratic processes before finally being allowed to flow into the consumer market. Indeed it is bureaucracy that ensures that quality standards are observed in all aspects of products that are destined to be used by all citizens in the country. (Rahat 2007 )
The main disadvantage that can be mentioned concerning too much bureaucracy is the issues of delayed services and decision making process. This is very crucial especially in emergency cases where by no matter the circumstances the processes have to be observed. This can prove to be disastrous especially for people who need urgent attention yet they have to be subjected to the slow bureaucratic processes the can be time consuming and thus leading to delayed services.
It is not a fair thing for the presidency to be bestowed with the power to make judicial appointments. This is because when the president appoints the chief judges and the judges of the Supreme Court, they have to demonstrate their loyalty to him no matter what. I have never seen a judicial system questioning presidency. This is simply because they fear losing their office at the presidents will. The judiciary is a very important institution that should be given powers and independence by separating it from the institution of presidency. These powers that have been given to the presidency to some extent undermine the principles of democracy. The president can give orders to the judiciary to act in his favor and this is contrary to expectations of democracy. It is clear that it is indeed presidential powers that need to be checked to prevent the current democracy enjoyed by the Americans from reverting to dictatorship. A good example was demonstrated with the case of Guantanamo bay prison. The main advocate for this system was the institution of presidency. The decision to attack Iraq was considered to have been engineered by the institution of president because of reasons well understood by the institution. To prevent such instances or even worse still, the powers of president have to be curtailed. Long gone are the days when states were governed by rulers. With the current democracy and independence states deserve to have leaders who do not seem to have excessive powers. With the current state of democracy, the country is at risk of dictatorship with the current powers bestowed to the institution of presidency. This is actually among the challenges that threaten the very principles of democracy in the United States. (Rahat 2007 p159)
Therefore in conclusion democracy in the United States currently is at the mercy of presidency because if the institution decides to ruin the country then there is no other institution that can restore democracy. Authoritarianism in governance is a threat to democracy in the United States because it undermines the democratic principles Changes have to start from the presidency by reducing some of the powers that threaten democracy.
- Arthur Goldhammer, trans.; Olivier Zunz, ed (2004),Democracy in America.
- Edwards, G.C III, wattenberg, M.P, and Lineberry R.L (2008) Goverment in America: People, Politics, and policy (brief 9th ed) New York: Pearson Education
- Rahat, Gideon. 2007. “Candidate Selection: The Choice Before the Choice,” Journal of Democracy 18(1): 157-70.