The United States of America is one of the most powerful and influential countries in the world. The entire world looks upon political decisions the USA makes. Especially Donald Trump’s presidency left people stunned. The United States moved into a new perspective. My survey, conducted in spring 2021 with 235 responses, concluded that 60% of participants believe the US political system is flawed. 32% of participants voted partially, while only a small minority of 8% thought the political is not flawed.
These findings raise the following question: “What are the flaws of the US political system? A critical look at an old democracy.”
Four important flaws of the US political system are the electoral college, voter suppression, the senate, and Gerrymandering.
During the vote for the president, a citizen’s vote goes to a statewide tally. In 48 states and D.C., the winner then gets all the electoral votes for that state. This means that if Candidate A receives 100 votes, while Candidate collects 99, all the electoral seats will go to Candidate A. Candidate B will receive zero seats. This concept results in a democratic flaw. Democracy is supposed to be built on the majority rule and the concept that every person’s vote counts. Nevertheless, in US history five presidents have won the elections without winning the popular vote. Examples are former presidents Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016.
Another flaw of the US democratic system is voter suppression. Voter suppression can take many forms and shapes. Some examples are roll purges, poll closures, long waits- and drives. While voter suppression can be found in multiple states, we will take a closer look at Texas. The 50 Texas counties that gained the most black and Hispanic residents (2.5 million more) closed 542 polls. With more residents, the number of polls should be expected to grow. Nevertheless, this is not the case! Looking at the 50 Texas counties that gained the fewest Black and Hispanic residents (13.000 more) only 34 polls were closed. With this statistic from the Guardian, the intention is clear: Making it harder for black and Hispanics to cast their vote.
The Senate also marks a flaw in the US political system. The Senate consists of two senators per state, no matter the population of the state. Subsequently, less populated states have the same representation as heavily populated states. This leads to unequal representation, which is an advantage for the republican party. Less populated states (e.g., Wyoming, Nebraska), which are in the middle of the US tend to vote republican. Heavily populated states (e.g., California), which are located on the east and west coast tend to vote democratic.
Gerrymandering also represents a flaw of the US political system. The number of representatives by the state is determined by its size. One representative represents one district. The goal of a party: Maximize the number of representatives from their party to have more power in the state but also in congress by drawing new district lines. Gerrymandering is undemocratic because it causes unfair representation. An illustration from the Washington Post showcases this convincingly. While “perfect representation” is the democratic way, Gerrymandering can also cause the two cases of “Compact, but unfair” and “neither compact nor fair”. State lines are drawn in such a way, that there is no fair representation of voters in the states. In a democracy, politicians shouldn’t “search” for voters by drawing unfair border lines but should rather convince a real majority of their ideas and political views. With gerrymandering, this concept is disturbed. It is important to point out that gerrymandering is not possible in all states. Some use different systems to draw new borderlines.