American politics are complex and can be overwhelming. The government has an infinite list of rules and regulations, governed by a multitude of systems comprised of various officials. The U.S. constitution was written over 200 years ago, yet our government is still working out the kinks. The United States was built on certain principles, yet as times change and people evolve, so do our rules. People are in a constant struggle between maintaining these principles and implementing new ones.
For the average voter, the government looks like a yard full of tangled weeds, too far gone to truly understand what happened or do anything about it now, but still hating how it looks. Like many Americans realize at some point, it is time to take out the sheers and get to the bottom of this mess. It is time to understand what is happening in our own backyard, and find out how to clean it up. It is time to bring light to the confusion of politics and aim to educate ourselves on how to regrow this country the right way, without interference from biased campaigns or corrupt politics.
Like any other high school graduate, I took government as a required class. I learned about the founding fathers, who were philosophers, political scientists, economists, and revolutionaries who brought about our country’s political system. I know what the government organization looks like, and for the most part how it all works. However, when it comes to making my own decisions on how to vote on a bill or who is the best person to run our country, I fall short. There is so much responsibility in the voting process, and although this is the basis for our democratic society, I believe many people take this responsibility lightly. The majority of the american population seems to be overlooking the part that we play in our own democracy. Individuals only have power in the system if they take part.
Unfortunately voting statistics are skewed creating an uneven gap in the represented population. For example, the largest percent of voters based on income in the 2012 election were those who made over $150,000 a year. Those who possess less than a high school diploma were the lowest percentage of the voting population based on education. Not only is there an issue with the way the american population is voting, but with the voters themselves. People are lacking education based on facts, while media is shoving biased information down their throats, persuading people to believe in a narrow viewed version of the U.S. government.
Fortunately, there are no lack of resources for people to learn about politics, government, policies, and voting. These sources are varied and wide reaching, they just lack the advertising power that campaigns posses. For those who wish to research facts, these options are not in-your-face, but take time to look up. An essential part of being an educated voter is doing your homework.
Regrettably the bulk of this information is passed along through second hand sources or is filtered through the media which is controlled by money and cannot avoid bias. As a valued member of society, each voter must be able to think for themselves. If society continues to allow either money driven campaigns to be our source of information or support uneducated individuals to vote, then democracy will fail.
Numerous groups are running campaigns to improve voter registration. They work tirelessly to ensure that groups are equally represented and that no minority goes unheard. While these advocates work to improve our country’s democracy, others are idly standing by, waiting for change. Non-voters are continuously given additional chances. Earlier this year, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a automatic voter registration bill, that will automatically register those who are eligible to vote using information collected at the DMV. Although having the right to vote is the blood line of our government, enacting that right carelessly will be its demise.
There are of course those who vote according to shallow logic, such as political party, those who vote how their parents vote, or vote for who ever their friends vote for. In elections, people vote for those who promise them more money for programs, or promise that they can hold onto more of their hard earned cash.They vote for the more attractive candidate, or the one who makes the most appealing promises. Voters may be influenced by deeper issues and choose someone who will protect their job, the economy, or the planet. With so many conflicting influences, candidates are often chosen based on merely one factor. Voting is obviously challenging, but it is crucial that every voter do their research, as there are often more choices than one might assume.
The Presidential elections in particular have become a large popularity contest, and people are buying it. Whoever can create the right image, backed by the most money is often the winner. In the 2012 elections, both candidates collected enormous funds. Obama raised 1072.6 million and Romney took in 992.5 million. Campaigning has become a "money race", and whoever has the upper hand, is able to reach more people and influence those uneducated voters through biased ads and media attention.This cheap (or not so cheap) appeal to the masses is an easy way to gain votes from people who do not truly understand politics or what candidates intentions are.
As a country, we need to empower our voters. Education is key, the history lesson that was my high school government class, was informative, but lacked constructive tools to help young people find their voice. It was not designed to help students develop the skills necessary to become active members of our democracy. We need a system in place to help people learn about government basics such as programs, policies, laws, and our party system. People need to learn there are major implications to many of the promises that politicians make, and then make rational decisions based on more than just their individual situation. American voters need to know the facts, and not trust opinions of others.
Today in America it is white people, rich people and those with higher education that are the majority of the actively voting population, and they are voting based on their needs. Our country desperately needs more voices, those who are willing to do the work to educate themselves on the issues and make informed decisions. It is easy to stand by with a go-with-the-flow attitude, and watch our country fall apart. It is easier to live this way, less stressful definitely, but it will cause our democratic system to fail. While The United States offers freedom to all, we need to exercise that freedom with integrity to create a true democracy.