The goal of democratic government is to meet the needs of the people by involving them in government. As Abraham Lincoln described it, we live in a country envisioned to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We hold elections for representatives in our government, which are intended to give each citizen an equal say in who is in positions of power in the United States. In these elections, politicians can run campaigns to convince the people to vote for them. These campaigns are usually filled with media appearances in which traditionally, candidates have tried to appeal to the people, by connecting with them. Citizens usually base their choice of who to vote for on the representative’s policy goals, political views, and on a deeper level, the representative’s moral standing. On this basis, it would appear that in the democratic government of the United States, the representatives that are elected and hold power in the government fairly represent and will uphold the values and political standings of the country’s citizens, or the majority of the country’s citizens.
The goal of having a perfect representative democracy is impossible. As humans we have a common goal to create a well functioning system to live under, which will protect ourselves and our families, and provide a complex infrastructure for living in modern civilization. The issue is creating a system that serves these purposes, in addition to serving the political goals of every citizen. Political views are extremely variant in our diverse country, being dependent, among other factors, on a citizen’s location, socioeconomic status, and level of education. Compromise is common in government, but it cannot always serve the needs of everybody, especially if viewpoints are polarized, or when people are unwilling to budge on their beliefs. The campaigns discussed earlier are not immune the effects of money and media. Campaigns can be derailed by scandal and negative media attention and likewise, campaigns can be propelled forward by donations, endorsements, positive media attention, and demagoguery. Because of this, it seems to me that our fair and purely democratic vision of government in the United States is not quite on track with the reality of politics in our country.
As a class we had the great opportunity to follow a presidential campaign season prior to the Democratic and Republican Primaries. I really enjoyed developing a good idea of who each candidate was, and what their political and moral views are. In addition, we got to witness (and still are witnessing) a historic presidential campaign from Donald Trump.
Our class is for the most part liberal, and we all tend to agree on a lot of political viewpoints. I think that sometimes in discussion, we lacked the courage to consider Trump’s extreme viewpoints on a deeper level, rather than just writing it off as outrageous. While many of Trump’s quotes and moral views seem askew, we still must acknowledge and consider the strategies that he has used to strengthen his campaign. It is a very interesting experiment in politics that is still in progress, and I look forward to observing how it turns out, and if their are any long term effects in terms of the way candidates run campaigns.
This government class has opened the blinds for me, and it’s cloudy outside. I do however hold the belief that somewhere behind all of the political power play, their is some blue sky, which is a government with the potential to truly represent the beliefs and goals of its people.