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Decline of Democracy in America

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Decline of Democracy in America

The founding fathers didn’t create a democracy because they thought it would work

perfectly. They didn’t give people the right to vote so that everyone would find true happiness.

They knew better than to create a utopia where everyone had their own white picket fence, went

to church on Sunday and lead lives as model citizens. They understood that toes would get

stepped on, feelings would get hurt and sacrifices would happen. The founding fathers didn’t

start a revolution to make people happy, they started a revolution because they believed in the

idea that everyone had the right to equality. They founded America on the belief that hard work

will lead to prosperity in the land of opportunity. All the ideas we associate with America:

capitalism, the free market, education, elections, these all came about because people wanted to

have power over where their life took them. Being able to make decisions in your own interest:

the founding fathers based America on that principal, and they structured the government so it

would protect those interests. Today, this is not the case. Although it may appear that America

has come a long way since the civil and women’s rights movement, increasing inequality and

discrimination in the 21st century has created a democracy that no longer represents the interests

of its constituents but its ruling elite. Despite people’s preconceptions that our society represents

a shining beacon of equality and fairness, society today faces similar issues to the same one’s we

did 50 to 100 years ago. Discrimination still represents a serious issue with regards to an

astonishing array of things and staggering economic inequality has devalued the average

American’s vote creating a government not based not on a democracy that represents a common

interest but a plutocracy that seeks to better its elite oligarchy.

Society in the 21st century has not learned from the mistakes made by previous

generations and still tramples on people’s rights while its leaders still masquerade under the

belief that they help society. If you took a poll, the general consensus would likely represent the

opinion that society has made huge leaps in equality since the early to mid-1900s and the

evidence seems to support that. Women and blacks can now vote, go to movies, drink water, and

get educated the same as everyone else. It would seem that equality has reached its maximum

potential today. However, when you look more closely at the facts, equality does not come to

mind. People of all walks of life experience discrimination daily. It might appear as if we cleared

the hump of women’s and racial rights a long time ago but they experience discrimination even

today. On average women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make in an equal position

(Cuokos, 1). This figure becomes even worse for women of color. This figure represents a

universal truth and not the only way that women face discrimination in the workplace.

Companies with conservative Christian leaders like Hobby Lobby have claimed the right of

freedom of religion in order to avoid providing certain contraceptives to their female employees,

and this discrimination has been endorsed by the Supreme Court. Gays have also been hit hard

by discrimination. They experience opposition from many sources but Christian groups more

than any other attack them. One school group in California attempted to get the state to fund their

anti-gay practices, also hiding behind their freedom of religion to skirt the law. (Stern, 1). To top

it off, racial tensions are still high and very much an issue today. There has been multiple

shootings that both seem to be very racially motivated. First Travon Martin in Florida and more

recently Michael Brown in Fergusson, Missouri were brutally shot, both by white men (Bouie,

1). The evidence makes it clear that we don’t live in the gem of equality and fairness everyone

makes it out to be. Discrimination is still very much alive and active in our lives and constitutes a

The government does not look out for all of its constituents’ interests and numerous

demographics live at a significant disadvantage in society while others live in the lap of luxury.

Today, the government does not function the way the founding fathers intended. As a democracy

it should work to aid and support all of its citizens, but instead many people’s interests get left by

the wayside. The middle class lives at a constant disadvantage. The middle class experiences

significant oppression from the ultra-rich in this country, especially those who run the

corporations that employ the middle class. The backbone of America’s economy faces many

problems. Each day they face the serious problem of the stagnant minimum wage. For many

years workers have had to deal with a minimum wage that never goes up while inflation and the

cost of living continuously increase. The amount of wealth these workers generate constantly

declines every year while the rich continue to make more and more money (Kornbluth). The

American lower class also experiences many dificulties. They struggle daily in order to find

healthy food to feed their families. While upper class Americans have had marked improvement

in their diets, the poorest struggle to find nutritious choices available to them. The knowledge or

lack thereof of healthy doesn’t represent the root of the problem. It stems from the act that poor

families don’t have access to nutritious food or simply cannot afford it (McMillan, 1). This has

occurred because efforts to improve America’s diet have directly benefited the upper class, the

ones who can make such changes profitable for the food corporations, meanwhile, the lower

class is has no viable source of nutrition. This is a clear example of how the rich make decisions

to benefit themselves without regards as to the negative effects it has on the disadvantaged.

The massive gap in wealth that exists between the ultra-rich and the middle class has

allowed the top 1 percent to dictate government policy and create a defacto plutocracy ruled by

an elite oligarchy of the ultra-rich. For many years now, the top percent has been getting richer

and richer and richer while the middle class has been consistently loosing wealth (Kornbluth).

This has put them at the mercy of the big CEO’s and Wall Street bankers who control their jobs

and money. For a while, the rich had the economy at their beck and call, but the country still

belonged to the popular vote. Since the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United, they control a

lot more than just money. Since corporations are now “people” and money gives you free

speech, the rich can now give unlimited amounts of money in support of their favorite political

candidate (Citizens United v Federal Election Commission). The one percent now effectively

control all of our political decisions because politicians fear that if they cross the corporations

they’ll lose funding. Since the rich have a controlling interest in America’s wealth, they decide

who gets elected, which bills get passed and what happens to their money. The effective value of

the common man’s vote is now nil, because he doesn’t elect a man, he elects a mouthpiece for

the corporations. Democracy founds itself on the principle that every man has an equal say in

how they govern themselves. Since the citizens of America no longer have a voice in

government, it is safe to say that democracy in America resembles the shadows seen by those in

Plato’s Cave: merely an illusion created by the rich to give us a sense of control.

Cuokos, Pamela. “Myth Busting the Pay Gap.” Blog. (Work in Progress). N.p., 7 June 2104. Web. 29

Kornbluth, Jacob. Inequality for All. 72 Productions, 2013. Film.

Lithwick, Dahlia. “Checking In on the Town of Greece.” Slate 27 Aug. 2014. Slate. Web. 28 Sept.

Mcmillan, Tracie. “Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study

Stern, Mark Joseph. “Christian Groups Beg Public Universities to Subsidize Their Anti-Gay

Discrimination.” Slate 11 Sept. 2014. Slate. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. United States Supreme Court. 21 Jan. 2010.

SCOTUS Blog. N.p., 21 Jan. 2010. Web. 27 Sept. 2014.

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