The election season for this year is over. This month our community members reflect on the state of the political system in this country, whether the citizens’ choices are getting reflected in the policies, and what change they would like to see, if any.
Sonali Dandekar Tambe
While election results may not always mean that voters are in favor of one party’s agenda, recent election results suggest that elections can still serve as a check on the political system and government’s actions.
The Trump presidency and the insurrection on the Capitol on Jan 6 were serious threats to our democracy. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has adopted extremist positions on issues such as abortion. The 2022 midterm results will require the Republican Party to reevaluate those extreme stances in favor of ones more palatable to voters. In the midterms, Democrats had bigger gains in states where abortion rights were under threat. Similarly, election denying candidates and candidates backed by Trump had a difficult time. The larger turnout of young voters and women for midterms further prove that voters can influence the direction in which the country is heading.
We have been a polarized country for the last 2 to 3 decades and it seems that will be the case for quite some time. There is a faction on either side that has strong core values on governing the country, which are completely opposite of each other and if they stick to those core values, the other side is always going to feel left out. However, and most importantly, there is a growing faction in the middle that is determining the direction of the country to some extent and keeping it balanced between those two, in spite of this polarization and to me that is the silver lining.
Irrespective of polarized viewpoints, I think the citizen’s choices are reflected in the government and overall which direction the country should go. Progress with democracy is slower, but it’s worth it, because it’s a collective choice!
Yes democracy is geared in the right direction but we need stronger voices to bring radical reform in immigration laws, bringing diversity to the forefront and emphasizing issues which are women centric. The changes we seek need to be pushed at the grass roots to be able to become visible at the state and federal level.
I think the political system is working, democracy is playing out the way as it should. Republicans and democrats should realize what really is important to the voters.
The political system is working even though far from perfect. Having said that, the system has a lot of loopholes and gray areas which sometimes get exploited. The citizens’ choices are getting reflected but the public themselves are being misled to think on what should be their top priorities. The choices given to them are sometimes politically driven and may not be the right direction. Changes needed to support democracy are: more transparency, media should broadcast only authenticated news, fact-checked reports /statistics. The election process should be fair and trustworthy for all citizens.
Politicians cater to oligarchs and organized interest groups in setting public policy and the voice of the average citizen is left unheard. Ordinary voters have little to no independent influence or representation and wealthy elites drive lobbying for policy changes, leading to systemic polarization and growing dysfunction in our democracy.
In recent years, we are seeing a compromised democracy that does not reflect the will of the people and the choice of the citizens. With rampant efforts to suppress the voter’s voice at ballot boxes across the country, restrictions to voting, mass purging of voter rolls, systematic disenfranchisement, and gerrymandering has actively aimed to block citizen participation in the democratic process.
The way to restore fairness to our democratic system and ensure a level playing field – is competitive elections driven by term limits. Congressional term limits can break up an incumbent monopoly and replace it with competition. Term limits give voters more choice at the ballot box, can make Congress more representative and will protect our democracy by removing the influence of lobbyists enjoying cozy relationships with incumbents.
For the last decade or so, government decisions have been made by folks on one side of the aisle or other with very little collaboration. From legislation to appointment of judges to even healthcare recommendations. This lack of collaboration leads to further partisanship. Now that the house and Senate are in different hands, it remains to be seen how the two branches work together. I am not optimistic about that. As a progressive, I don’t think we are headed in the right direction starting from internal issues like addressing disparities in access to education and opportunities- to addressing global issues like climate change.