Advancing democracy is one of the critical processes in contemporary political science in the United States, as it is a significant source of social benefits for the population. Hence, the study of issues with the most severe impact, whether positive or negative, is required to get a retrospective on various political systems of the chosen country. This paper aims to provide an argument built on the principle of analyzing peer-reviewed, legitimate sources and proving the immense role of the bureaucracy in the process described above. Furthermore, it will additionally be the subject of discussion of how public authorities can use the bureaucracy to make autonomous decisions without regard to the citizens, including a possible drift towards dictatorship. Consequently, the bureaucracy department of the White House and parliamentarians over crucial decisions of the country’s leadership is a significant detriment to advancing democracy; it stagnates development and leads to an inevitable regression into autocracy.
The Role of the Bureaucracy in the United States
Democracy is a type of governance in which the people have the power to debate and decide on laws or to elect those who will do so. Who is considered a member of “the people” and how jurisdiction is shared or assigned by the citizens has evolved through time and at varying rates in different nations (Weiss, 2020). However, over time, more and more citizens of democratic countries have been involved (Weiss, 2020). Peaceful assembly, affiliation, private property, religious freedom and speech, acceptance and tolerance and inclusivity, citizenship, consent of the administrated, and minority rights are all essential aspects of democracy (Weiss, 2020). As a result, the presented concept is a new direction of social and political evolution, which greatly contributes to the quality of life and protects the human rights.
Though, there are different types of democracy which are currently present worldwide. The first kind of democracy is considered a direct type, while a representative democracy, such as a parliamentarian or presidential, is the most modern form, in which citizens elect government representatives to govern on their behalf (Documents on democracy, 2018). The majority rule is the most common way for democracies to make decisions on a daily basis; however, other decision-making systems such as supermajority and agreement have additionally played a role (Documents on democracy, 2018). They primarily supersede on a constitutional level because they serve the critical function of inclusion and broader credibility on sensitive matters, which is counterbalancing majoritarianism (Documents on democracy, 2018). The majority’s functions can be performed inside the context of a representational policy under the most frequent type of liberal democracy (Documents on democracy, 2018). The constitution, on the other hand, limits the mass and defends the minority—usually by ensuring that all citizens have access to specific individual rights, such as freedom of expression and association.
It is additionally crucial to address the topic of democracy development and its promotion in the country. The primary measure contributing to this process is direct state intervention (Documents on democracy, 2018). The establishment of commissions to organize regular referenda, for example, is one effective way of doing this (McMahon, 2017). However, the presence or absence of factors inducing a government to take such measures is at the disposal of the population (McMahon, 2017). There are various non-profit organizations, foundations, publications, as well as political parties which create the preconditions for democracy. A vital aspect of their activities is their activism during a party or presidential election when the verification and legitimization of elections are crucial (Mahat, Nasirova & Rob, 2017). A key detail in democracy is the combination of factors that lead to the same result – the democratization of government.
A complicated organization with numerous procedures and processes is referred to as a bureaucracy. Decision-making is slowed by the systems and processes that have been put in place. They are intended to keep the organization’s homogeneity and control, however that control is assessed by a limited group of influential government workers which are able to postpone the decisions made by the White House. The processes that are typically created in governments and big organizations, such as businesses, are additionally referred to as bureaucracy. Thus, implementation of the entity’s laws and regulations relies heavily on the bureaucracy.
The bureaucratic process is prone to criticism and is associated with inefficiency, redundancy, and arbitrariness. The phrases bureaucrat, bureaucratic, and bureaucracy are frequently used with a derogatory connotation (Şahin, 2020). For example, calling somebody, a bureaucrat assumes that they work for the government, whereas the term governmental implies that procedures take precedence over efficiency (Şahin, 2020). The capacity to make impossible things happen is one of the most common uses of the word bureaucracy (Şahin, 2020). A formalized hierarchical structure, administration by norms, separation of industry, achievement-focused promotion, efficient organization, and impersonality are the six features of bureaucracy, according to Max Weber (Reynolds, 2021, par. 2). Rules based on logical evaluation of issues and formulation of the most efficient technique of achieving goals are essential for successful bureaucracies (Reynolds, 2021). Organization charts, staff regulations, memoranda, and methods – such as agile manufacturing techniques – are all reviewed on a regular basis by successful bureaucracies to increase consistency and efficiency of results (Reynolds, 2021). However, bureaucracy is a concept which has an alternative point of view compared to others. It arises from the endeavor to drive organizations through complex systems from a structural viewpoint.
Today’s world events in politics and economics, for example, efficiently demonstrate the proposed thesis statement. In particular, while the political and military leaders of the country have made certain decisions regarding the country’s foreign policy – the implementation of these decisions has apparent problems. Financial investments in developing military blocs and enhancing the country’s security and military initiatives take months, whereas, in reality, the process could be accomplished in weeks. The critical factor that needs to be addressed in this case is the accumulated deferral of decisions – while the first initiatives have just begun, the leadership is already working on the next ones. Such divergence has a detrimental effect on the country’s foreign policy image, domestic business sectors, and economy. For instance, the rising price of petrol in the country is a consequence of belated government measures to stabilize the commodity market and draw on oil reserves to produce more fuel (Stevens, 2022). As a result, these examples demonstrate political and economic processes that are detrimentally affected by bureaucracy.
However, it is additionally necessary to analyze how the above-mentioned methodology creates negative trends. If one examines news reports in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the health ministry’s decisions were belated (Yong, 2020). The reason for that was the frequent revision of quarantine decisions by parliamentarians and interim commissions, which had a significant impact on casualty figures. Discontent started to grow in society, and with its disorder and crime, as well as internal divisions within the society. All of the above significantly shifted the focus of public attention towards financial and physical survival, which, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represents regression (MasterClass, 2020). Thus, the above chain of conclusions explains the role of bureaucracy in the negative trends created concerning democratic development.
Attention must additionally be paid to the fact that regression implies tendencies inherent in more archaic political ideologies, such as autocracy and totalitarianism. The process described above can begin when the level of discontent of the population develops into more severe consequences than unrest. For example, last year’s storming of the Capitol directly demonstrates how government actions have embittered citizens, inadvertently inclining them towards self-armament (BBC News, 2022). Based on the assessments of political scientists and sociologists, if such events become a regular tendency, the United States army may gain more influence over domestic political processes (BBC News, 2022). Consequently, such outcome would reduce the influence of the political establishment (BBC News, 2022). In turn, as the leading positions in the army are not elected by popular vote, one may conclude that the autocratic faction of the military will increase power in the country. This possible scenario would culminate in creating a military junta and the total elimination of democracy in the country; such an example is one possible scenario that demonstrates the pernicious influence of bureaucracy.
In order to preserve order, these systems are designed to be formal and strict. The use of administrative processes to simplify or replace independent judgments is perhaps the most recognizable feature of a bureaucracy (Borry & Reuter, 2022). A bureaucrat makes unspoken assumptions about how an organization works (Borry & Reuter, 2022). One assumption is that the entity will not be able to exist if it relies on an open platform of operations, being either too complicated or too unpredictable (Borry & Reuter, 2022). On the other hand, a system which is logically examined and closed, should be subsequently followed and adopted.
In particular, government decision-making bodies that do not represent the interests of citizens should be reviewed and abolished. A prominent example in this case is the Switzerland’s system – using cutting-edge technology, it holds a series of weekly online referendums (ACE Knowledge Network, 2021). By combining the technological approach with electronic systems, as well as the opinion of the population on all important issues for the country, it is possible to further develop democracy.
Moreover, such a solution will additionally have a positive impact on the general education of civil society, by integrating it into the digital world. However, it is important to ensure the security of such a system, otherwise the results could be falsified through hacker interventions by other countries or internal political forces. One example of such an outcome is the unconfirmed story that a group of anonymous hackers had a major impact in the penultimate US presidential election (O’Neill, 2020). Even if such a story is not true, its scenario is realistic and therefore requires official attention. From this, one may conclude that there are valid alternatives in the world, and the main difficulty is to implement them given the current bureaucracy in place.
Bureaucratic systems have a tendency to look backwards, finding practices that have shown to be effective in the past. Entrepreneurs and innovators, who favor forward-looking thinking and try to uncover methods to enhance processes, are at odds with this backward approach (Research Group on Socialism and Democracy, 2021). Agile processes, for example, are iterative processes defined by self-organization and responsibility that develop with time (“Challenges facing the US left”, 2021). A strict bureaucracy lowers operating efficiency over time, especially when compared to competitors with smaller bureaucracies (“Challenges facing the US left”, 2021). In situations when bureaucracy is additionally utilized to shelter entrenched power structures from the competition, efficiency losses are particularly severe. The US government is challenging to demonstrate horrid performance, for example, because there is a lengthy termination process in place.
Another part of the debated topic is the number of political appointments to executive branch positions. The system is designed to allow a president to take the influence of the bureaucracy (Mahat, Nasirova & Rob, 2017). However, shortages and high turnover in such positions mean that officials suffer from short-terms, focusing on immediate concerns while ignoring underlying structural flaws that might become devastating difficulties in a crisis. In order for a government to work well, it must have strong leadership. A president can establish goals and direct his administration’s efforts toward improving system efficiency (Mahat, Nasirova & Rob, 2017). However, there is another reason why improving government seldom catches the attention of senior officials. It frequently necessitates being engrossed in mind-numbing detail, which, consequently, has a negative impact on the workflow.
Based on the above conclusions, it is necessary to consider the problem of democratic development in such a system. By focusing solely on today’s problems, the government inevitably ignores the global development of democracy. The necessary legal amendments are not made, and the development of a system that takes the interests of the entire population into account is not taking place. Moreover, the processes that have a minor impact on progress are significantly slowed down, thus halting it altogether. The logical conclusion, in this case, is that with such tendencies, the population will protest, sometimes to the point of resorting to violence and vandalism. This phenomenon, perceived as a problem of the present, will be dealt with by drastic measures – particularly by strengthening the country’s security bloc. Following such logic, one may conclude that the result of such practices will be a retreat towards autocracy and totalitarianism – the main feature of a dramatic strengthening of internal power structures.
In conclusion, the analysis shows that further consolidation of the bureaucracy in the country’s political, social, and economic processes could lead to its regression, including autocracy or military totalitarianism. Moreover, a viable alternative with several advantages and strong prospects for technological progress was presented. However, there is additionally the issue of how an individual can support, directly or indirectly, the development of democracy in his or her country. The primary method, in this case, would be the principle of a most significant interaction. While donations to foundations and organizations promoting democracy are critical, the most practical side of the issue is ideological. One needs to influence people’s environment in every way possible, for instance, talking to family, friends, relatives, acquaintances, and colleagues. Such activities will inadvertently set in motion a chain of events in which each individual will transmit ideological concepts to his or her environment. In a few years, such activities could significantly impact the situation on a municipal scale. As a result, the activation of multiple local areas could lead to a global shift in the whole country.
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