Is Our Democracy Broken? #PatheosVotes2016

Is Our Democracy Broken? #PatheosVotes2016 November 8, 2016

In my Sunday school class this past weekend, we talked about the election, how hard it is to know whom and what to believe, and the fact that political candidates pretty much never seem to be there to actually accomplish the things they promise or that we hope they might.

One person in the class said that “democracy is broken” in the United States, and I found myself wondering whether that is true. I definitely think that there is a need for reform of older ways of doing things. But I feel as though complaining about politics or democracy is a bit like complaining about the media. Why is there so much sex and violence in the movies or in commercials? Because that is what we the viewers want. If movie tickets and advertised products did not sell using these methods, advertisers and filmmakers wouldn’t use them, they would try something else.

Isn’t it the same with politics? Why do candidates and parties try to make you afraid of their opponents, slander them and try to make them out to literally or metaphorically be the devil?

Because it has worked time and time again in the past.

I don’t think the political situation in this country is so bad because democracy isn’t working the way it is supposed to. I think the political situation in this country is so bad because democracy works precisely in the way that we are seeing, when people are more interested in passing the buck of responsibility for informing themselves, or for making change, or anything else. As long as the majority of us want someone else to change the world for us, as long as we look to politicians and political parties to make us feel safe – by first making us feel afraid and then relieving us of that burden, as long as we want to be entertained and pandered to rather than served with honesty and respect, then we’ll continue to have politics that gives us what we want.

And so perhaps the question to ask is why it works so well, and how we do the hard work of trying to change the mind of the majority of people in our country, in order to change the vote or anything else that depends on what people prefer. Because unless we can persuade the majority of people in this country to want something different, then the choice is between a democracy that gives it to us, or opting for something other than democracy.


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  • Chris Crawford

    With most states dedicating all electoral votes to a single candidate, I’m not sure we really have a democracy.

    A big problem is the feeling that our votes really don’t matter. Certainly, being in a state where your chosen candidate can’t possible win makes that somewhat real. Even more, there’s a feeling that the DNC/RNC usually decide who our candidates will be – and for the latest election, the DNC seemed hell-bent on making sure Clinton received the nomination, even at the risk of alienating the younger generation.

    I have to think that in part, this explains Trump’s unlikely popularity. He’s the fly in the ointment, a candidate that is 100% the will of the voters despite heavy resistance from the RNC during the primary. The GOP caused him to win by pushing too many weak, cookie-cutter candidates and blocking others with a unique voice who didn’t have millions of dollars of their own.

    My fear is that none of this is over. The “Trump bloc” is probably going to mobilize, and could pick a less idiotic, but far more frightening candidate next time. And unless Clinton stops making decisions that court controversy (like starting up her own email server in the wake of the prior email scandal from the Bush era), she may find herself in trouble with millennials who feel betrayed by the primary process.

    You might think it can’t get worse. But you’d be wrong. Everything depends not only on who we elect today, but how we deal with the country’s divide going forward.

    • jh

      I think that Hillary will always be under a cloud of suspicion. If she orders her coffee black, she will be investigated. If she goes to her daughter’s birthday party, she will be investigated. It damages somebody if they are continually monitored and accused of committing evil deeds. I wouldn’t be surprised that Hillary may have some mental issues just because she always has to deal with how her enemies will twist her actions.

      It’s the observer effect. Imagine if you went through your day and everybody watched you and were waiting to pounce on you if you made even one mistake.. such as accidentally pressing the wrong button in the elevator, not greeting somebody (because you didn’t see them), buying coffee from a street vendor who is not white, and so on. Wouldn’t you start being very proactive about minimizing any damage to yourself? I know I would.

      I do wish that instead of defending, the democrats had gone on attack. How many Benghazi investigations did we need? How few Haliburton investigations did we have? I would like to see the emails of the republicans, especially the one’s on the Benghazi investigation committees, the republican leadership, Paul Ryan, and so on… If we are going to do this adequately, we need to open everybody’s emails… including their private server emails. Yup – I’m betting that many of the republicans have private servers as well. I also want financial records and a committee that spends its time solely monitoring our republican’s wallets. See – I bet I can find a lot of dirt if I just went on the attack and forced the republicans to undergo an audit as well.

      • Chris Crawford

        First, I’d love for the government to crack down on private email servers. They are nearly impossible for an individual, even one as insanely wealthy as Clinton, to secure properly. Right now they’re not allowed, but the phrasing doesn’t make them “illegal.” I’d like to see that change, and take down any Republicans (or Democrats) who don’t comply.

        Clinton’s email server was, at best, careless and hypocritical. And that’s the problem – the Clintons have always done things their own way regardless of how it looks. When you work so hard to control your image, it makes you look like you’ve got something to hide. Even if you don’t.

        And I suspect you’re wrong about the number of investigations into Bush & company. I seem to remember a ton. There was even a last-minute Iran-Contra scandal that broke right before the 1992 election, and wasn’t cleared up until shortly after it was over – and it helped Clinton get elected. You think it’s possible the “observer effect” is making you notice what happening to Clinton more than other political figures you don’t like?

        For the record, Trump sickens me. He’s the worst candidate I’ve ever seen, and that includes at least half of the loony Libertarians and Greens. Clinton needs to be elected. But she’s got a lot of baggage, and much of it is justified.

  • AWRM

    I think you’ve nailed it in this article. We’re always looking for something else to blame and some great American hero to save us. We need to.. search and try our ways and turn again unto the Lord.

    Ezekiel 13:19
    You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, WHO LISTEN TO LIES, you have killed those who should not die and have spared those who should not live.

    (My emphasis, of course)

    It was true back then and it’s true now. The lies mean that people suffer and people die.

    The watchmen and story tellers lie to us but we are NOT guiltless. We believe what we want to believe: what is convenient, that we can keep our trinkets and not change our materialistic ways, that God is not so concerned about suffering and slavery around the world, that some body else will save us, that we should just continue to buy, buy, buy, that we should vote for/seek prosperity for ourselves, that you need things to look better than your neighbour, that you just need to sound like and look like a Christian and it’s all good etc…

    We rejected the truths of the prophets in the past and played this insulting pretend-to-believe game and now we reject the words of the Son of God and play the same game – like we think God can be so easily fooled.

    America: you are on a dangerous path. God is patient and forgiving with our sins but will not be mocked by us.

  • Brandon Roberts

    our democracies and goverment’s been flawed for a while. and trumps probaly going to embarass himself rather quickly