I am not a political gal. I have never kept up with politics or policy, never followed legislation, or known who held what office aside from the presidency.
Then, Donald Trump became our president. I realized that the reason I didn’t follow the government is that I didn’t trust our government. I never involved myself with politics because I never believed it could affect change at the micro-level of my life and community.
My mistrust though was fueled by my lack of knowledge. I educated myself and realized there are three ways in which this administration could have easily gained mine, as well as many others, trust.
Direct Democracy and Electoral College Abolishment
In 2016, democracy was thrown into a dumpster fire. Burning and blazing, we all watched as we were told that our vote did not count. This message was relayed to us as we watched a man ascend to the presidency even though he lost the popular vote.
Donald Trump won the presidency because he gained more electoral college votes than his counterpart and this is how our president is elected here in the United States.
President Trump lost the popular vote and was still awarded the election because he won key battleground states. These states are labeled so because of their many electoral college votes at stake.
Definition of democracy: government by the people, especially the rule of the majority -Merriam-Webster
America has been coined a democracy since its inception. Our founding fathers screamed democracy from the hilltops when creating the Declaration of Independence, they just didn’t tell us what kind of democracy they meant.
A direct democracy where the individuals in said democracy are the only path to an elected government official entering office is dangerous to those constituents who may not elect a true and fair individual.
This is what our founding fathers thought at least. Cue, the creation of a democracy buffer, otherwise known as the Electoral College.
In order to end the Electoral College, the Senate would need to make a constitutional amendment which would require two-thirds of the Senate to sign off on this amendment. I can’t imagine a president who won due to this facade of democracy would ever want to even hint at the idea of removing the Electoral College. After four years, I was proven right.
There will never be a true democracy in America without the abolishment of the Electoral College. This outdated method of making sure “the right guy” makes it to office strips us Americans of a vote that should count as the law of the land in presidential elections. No other democracy in the world has an Electoral College, or a structure in voting set up that is similar.
Just remember, there are 535 members of Congress and 1 president. In 2020, 159 million individuals voted. We are the power, we hold the power and we have the right to wield said power.
Give me democracy or give me death.
Democracy Lost in Endless Holding of Office
The year 1985 brought us many things. The United States saw its first CD, the Unabomber took his first victim and Windows Version 1.0 is released. This is also the year Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is elected to the United States Senate.
The same McConnell is now the Senate majority leader under the Trump administration and has served continuously in the senate for 36 years. For almost four decades the same man has served in the office with no worry of being unseated.
How hard do you feel a politician works for his constituents when he has no reason to fear being voted out?
The argument against term limits always enjoys citing that term limits are already in place via elections. This is not correct. An incumbent and his opponent are not running the same types of elections, per se.
An incumbent senator like Mitch McConnell, for example, has been in the political bubble of Congress for three decades. That is three decades of networking with fellow politicians, large sums of money from said fellow politicians to pay for advertising and campaigning on the road as well as the sheer fact that people know his name.
A challenging senator to an incumbent like Mitch McConnell runs a much different race. These types of politicians tend to not have the mass amount of funds to support the advertisement needed to overcome their opponents. They are also not a household name so, they need even more advertising to just try and let their constituents know who they are and what they stand for.
So what is the point here?
Term limits are not the same as an election. If we impose term limits on Congressional seats held we may be able to make more progressive turns in policies and legislation.
Help give hope to the generations after us that they have a chance at affecting change in politics no matter their connections and depth of pockets.
Direct Lobbying-The Silent Killer of Democracy
If you do not know what lobbying is or what a lobbyist does, this is for you. Politics is not my forte. Once I began educating myself on how policies come to fruition, I stumbled upon lobbying.
There are two forms of lobbying we see here in our country.
The first is grassroots lobbying. Grassroots lobbying consists of attempting to influence legislation by communicating and banning together with the masses. This form of lobbying gathers the public in speaking to their legislators and politicians in order to affect change in their communities.
The second is direct lobbying. Direct lobbying consists of an advocate, or lobbyist, who communicates and attempts to persuade politicians and legislators in order to garner their votes for legislation.
Grassroots lobbying is a neighborhood in an impoverished community coming together to raise awareness of policies that could impact the funding given to restoring said community. This form of macro-level advocacy begins and ends with a group of individuals actively involved in the problem they need help solving.
Direct lobbying is an executive at a major oil corporation having an overpriced meal with legislators in the hopes of swaying their vote regarding environmental legislation. This form of macro-level advocacy begins and ends with politicians who rarely travel outside of Washington D.C. voting for policies based on the taste of a steak.
As of October 2019, 281 lobbyists had been recorded as working with the Trump administration. Also, this administration's office employed four times as many lobbyists who are government officials than the previous administration.
What makes all of this push me in the direction of mistrust?
That fact that many of you, like me not long ago, had no idea this was happening.
“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” -Dalai Lama
It was once thought that to fight for the freedoms of slaves was a radical stance. Susan B. Anthony was also called radical when fighting for the right of women to vote. Hell, look at how radical they thought we were when we begged for the right to marry the ones we love, regardless of our gender.
These points I have made above are radical and necessary-the two are usually synonymous. The Trump administration had its hands in all the three mistrusts I listed above but, they were not the first hands in the cookie jar and will not be the last.
Our biggest form of offense and defense is knowledge and numbers. Lobbying, term limits, and electoral college reform and/or abolishment are not as out of reach for us non-elected officials as we are made to think.