By Allie Skalnik
From February 15th to 26th, 2021, University High School students were invited to voice their opinions by answering the prompt: “How strong is American democracy?”. In an effort to represent their voices, the U-Post is featuring five responses.
In an article by the Associated Press titled “AP-NORC poll: Few in US say democracy is working very well”, the sentiments of University students are echoed, as the AP writes, “Only a fragment of Americans believe democracy is thriving in the U.S., even as broad majorities agree that representative government is one of the country’s bedrock principles”. This suggests a belief in the American principles of democracy and simultaneous disappointment in the offices of government meant to carry out these ideals. The article goes on to claim that recent political events such as Trump’s Impeachments, the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6th of this year, and the intense national division that has come along with such events could be a source of this mistrust in government.
Some University students called out this dichotomy in their responses by writing:
“The reality is that democracy is fragile and constantly tested. It takes intentional care for and protection of democracy in order to preserve it for future generations–and for ourselves.”
“It has become difficult to ensure democracy in America.”
“American democracy is starting to burst at the seams and is quickly losing integrity. The mass political division and corrupt politicians will only exacerbate this problem”.
Many University students seem to concur that American democracy is far from perfect and presently does not live up to the ideals originally set upon the country’s founding.
Despite this agreement, University students do not speak with one voice. One student wrote,
“American democracy is the strongest in the world. America is the cornerstone of freedom for the world and it is shown in its democracy”.
Another writes, “Even under attack American democracy remains intact”, but concedes, “Even though it is strong that doesn’t mean we can change it and make our democracy stronger and more representative to all people in the United States of America”.
It is important to understand the nuance of this issue, which includes understanding that The United States is not the only country that has been challenged lately. To those who lament the deterioration of democracy, many would respond that challenge does not make a country any less great. A continued faith in the ideals of democracy may provide a brighter future.
Thank you to all the students who took time out of their day to write a response. Full responses are pasted below along with the AP article referred to in the article.
Anonymous: American Democracy is as strong as the people holding up our democracy. I don’t see there being any weakening in American democracy and it being relatively stable as it is currently. Even under attack American democracy remains intact. Even though it is strong that doesn’t mean we can change it and make our democracy stronger and more representative to all people in the United States of America.
Anonymous: American democracy is only strong when we care for and invest in it. Too often, Americans take democracy for granted, like a certainty so long as we teach children patriotism and the history of the Founding Fathers. The reality is that democracy is fragile and constantly tested. It takes intentional care for and protection of democracy in order to preserve it for future generations–and for ourselves.
Liam Commons: I have lived through four elections, only two of which I can remember. I feel as though in recent times, it has become difficult to ensure democracy in America. I also feel that because of the way many states have drawn their electoral districts, we continue to see a minority of the population, making a majority of the decisions. I believe that because of this, American Democracy is weakening.
Anonymous: American democracy is starting to burst at the seams and is quickly losing integrity. The mass political division and corrupt politicians will only exacerbate this problem. We as Americans have but one responsibility laid out for us, that being the protection and preservation of the world’s oldest democracy. Is American democracy the strongest in the world? Far from it. But we still have enough time to turn this all around.
Anonymous: American democracy is the strongest in the world. America is the cornerstone of freedom for the world and it is shown in its democracy.