The American System of Government is Broken
“Yes, we can!” was Barack Obama’s slogan that galvanized American people and gave a rife hope for America’s recovery. The United States has been confronting an economic downturn and the election of the new president in 2008 seemed “that new leadership would put right what had gone wrong with America” (Institute par. 2). Nevertheless, with all good intentions it looks like a more appropriate statement would be “No, we can’t!.” As a matter of fact, the US are facing a governmental logjam which arises from the inherent nature of the system, a form of government which was conceived more than 200 years ago, however, that “was downright altruistic by the standards of that time in history,” as Sparky Hall puts it on BlueRidgeNow.com (par. 5). Indeed, in America policymaking is strikingly difficult and democratic traits are hardly noticeable, which all makes the American system of government broken.
As the first blatant flaw in the system can be considered the lopsided state representation in the Congress resulting from the process of gerrymandering. On the grounds of a decennial census required by the US Constitution the elective districts boundaries must be redrawn in order to reapportion the number of seats in the House of Representatives. However, the party that happens to draw the line may “[exploit] the map-making exercise by weakening the voting strength of some groups to gain partisan advantage” (Giroux par. 15). The most glaring example of map-manipulation was after the 2010 elections, “in which Republicans won the House majority and gained more than 700 state legislative seats across the nation” and conferred upon them the practice of redistricting (Giroux par. 6). According to the statistical election-modeller of the Princeton Election Consortium Samuel Wang, 26 out of the 33 seats Republicans outnumber Democrats in the House are due to gerrymandering and the total number of voters disenfranchised by Republican redistricting was around four million (Coll par. 5). Indeed, 52.7% of people in Michigan voted for Democratic lawmakers to be sent 1
to the House of Representatives, however, the Michigan House eventually had 9 Republicans and 5 Democrats in it (Wang par. 13). Even more unfairly represented is the public’s vote in Pennsylvania, where 50.7% of all voters elected a Democrat to represent the state in the House, nevertheless, the Democratic party received only 5 seats in comparison with the 13 accorded to Republicans (Wang par. 13). The same pattern can be identified in North Carolina and Wisconsin as well as “in the nation as a whole” where despite a Democratic popular vote majority Republicans could receive more seats in the House of Representatives than Democrats could. To this end, as Wang argues, America is in an “‘asymmetric’ period of Republican manipulation of electoral maps” (Coll par. 4). Moreover, Steve Coll states on The New Yorker that even without gerrymandering Republicans might have gained the majority in the House, nonetheless, “the margin would have been so narrow that Democrats would have been able to get bills passed if they could hang together and get a handful of defectors from the other side” (par. 6). Thus, the process of manipulative redistricting practice intensifies partisanship and results in a non-democratic broken system. Besides an unsymmetrical and polarized political government, further hindrance to expeditious policymaking is exacerbated by the division of powers between the legislative and the executive. In America today the president claims a “broader mandate as the only person elected by all the people” and the house of the legislature claims to have the public support since they won the most recent elections (Zakaria par. 5). The result is a struggle over “basic legitimacy” and the incapability to make fast decisions where the checks and balances may lead the executive and the legislative to a “classical standoff over benefits”...
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