The United States of America is one of the oldest democracies in the world. It is an election-driven and representative federal democracy with competing interests between lobbyists and citizens (Chafetz and Pozen, 1430). The politics of the U.S. are shaped and determined by two major political parties, that is Republicans and Democrats. The competing interests of citizens differ based on their backgrounds, race, age, types of jobs they have, and their family compositions. Besides citizens’ welfare, special interest groups, media, and lobbyists also shape the politics of the United States (Chafetz and Pozen, 1430). Albeit the American political system has received praises, it has its share of shortcomings. This paper focuses on three major problems of the American political system and their solutions.
Gerrymandering Political Strategy
Gerrymandering is the act of manipulating or redrawing electoral congressional or district boundaries in a manner that favors one political party or gives it an unfair advantage. The word gerrymandering came from Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts in 1812 after drawing a district that looked like a salamander to favor his political party (Hira et al.). It is no longer a doubt that gerrymandering significantly contributes to the extreme polarization between the United States political parties today (Hira et al.). From the history of gerrymandering in the U.S., the incumbents are the most susceptible culprits owing to the power they enjoy while representing their specific constituents. Racism weaponry orchestrated by the politicians through unfair redistricting undermines the role of the minority communities in polls.
Another disaffecting issue with gerrymandering is that it allows political parties to win and remain in power unswervingly. In a real sense, it undermines a representative and fair democracy. The Voting Rights Act is compromised if redistricting is done to manufacture specific electoral outcomes. While gerrymandering affects all Americans, communities of color bear the highest cost. Whether the Republicans or Democrats control the redrawing powers, communities of color are used as tools for creating an advantage for the redistricting party.
Solutions to Gerrymandering
Gerrymandering is getting worse each passing day, and Congress ought to act soon to avert its cons. The For the People Act is a landmark federal democracy reform legislation that the House has already passed (Hira et al.). The legislation piece is a significant milestone toward restricting party-political gamesmanship in redistricting. The bill strengthens protections for communities of color, enhances transparency, and bans congressional redistricting partisan gerrymandering. Additionally, the bill goes a long way in improving the ability of voters to challenge gerrymandered maps in the judiciary. Therefore, there is a need for Congress to hurry the passage of the reform legislation to avert the political, discriminatory, and racial drawing of boundary lines in the coming decades.
Another gerrymandering alteration recommended to states entails recruitment of sovereign commissions and charge them with responsibility of drawing voting districts. According to Borodin et al. (99), the state legislature draws the authority to draw political districts from the constitution of America. Consequently, the state legislature has the power to hand over the responsibility to a different organization or body. Independent commissions will be non-partisan and accountable to the public regarding redistricting.
The U.S. is achieving fair congressional redistricting starts with educating the state legislators on the disadvantages of gerrymandering. Since the power to redistrict is bestowed upon the state legislators, the majority party has the potential to gerrymander the maps to favor themselves. Thus, talking and enlightening the legislators on the significance of redistricting reform will play a significant role in attaining fair maps. Secondly, advocate for congressional redistricting reform to avert a blatant conflict of interest.
Thirdly, the public should audit the redistricting process on liability and transparency values. Whether an independent commission or state legislators draw district voting boundaries, the public has the right to demand fair redistricting. Measures should be put in place that map drawers should follow and give room for feedback from the public to ensure accountability. For instance, redistricting committees should be open to the public and their inputs considered for boundary drawing. Lastly, states should allocate funds for the future census to reach the hard-to-count populations such as people of color, young children, rural residents, immigrants, and low-income households.
Lack of Representation of Minorities and Women in Government
Like many other countries, the USA number of men in elective offices is significantly high compared to women. Baird says that the disparity is occurring despite women being the voters at a higher rate than men for decades. Though this trend is common in many jurisdictions across the globe, the underrepresentation of women, specifically in the U.S., is quite puzzling. It is only in Nevada State in 2019 that women constituted a majority in the legislature in the U.S history (Epps et al. 398). The majority of voters, women, should dispel the notion that they are least interested in politics. Nancy Patricia Pelosi is the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, and Kamala Harris is the current vice president, becoming third and second in line to the presidency.
The democracy of America does not require representatives to mirror the public demographically. There is social and economic inequality because of political disparity in gender representation. Once women’s political equality is attained, equality in other domains will be achieved. One of the contributing factors to women’s unequal representation in the U.S. is structural single-member congressional districts. Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the statute provides a gender quota for officeholders or candidates seeking elective seats (Fisher). Without gender quotas or a proportional representation system, the U.S. lags behind most technologically advanced democracies.
Again, the two-party system without term limit is a practice that advantages incumbent member representatives, who traditionally have been disproportionately men. As such, women have only had an opportunity to enter Congress if the contested seat is open only. Therefore, according to the political system in the United States of America, few options are available for new candidates where women can try their luck in both party nominations and general elections (Webster et al. 628). However, they enter the political cycle without benefiting from a more gender-balanced institution. According to the Chafetz and Pozen (1430), U.S. government has not yet ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and thus, classified among seven nations that have failed to involve women, including South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Palau, Tonga, and Iran.
Solutions to Minorities and Women Representation in Government
To curb the underrepresentation of minorities and women in the legislative arm of the U.S. government, policies, laws, and procedures that promote gender equality should be enacted at both federal and state levels. Gender-related policies message women and girls about their active role in politics. The U.S. constitution and statutes should guarantee gender equality in representation to legislate and enact broad women-related matters in Congress and the House of Representatives.
Additionally, to improve the United States’ political system and democracy, there is a need for autonomous solid feminist movements. The union should be appropriately composed to avoid shortcomings of skewedness in inclusivity (Chafetz and Pozen 1430). They ought to have features of women of all ages, races, professions, religions, sexual orientations, and beliefs. Strategic multi-layered feminist movements can influence women’s party political participation. It can also recruit women leaders into political space, push for policy to continue championing gender equality, and speak for women as a united group.
Lawmakers, especially those affiliated with Republicans, worked aggressively to limit their opponents from accessing the ballot box. They suspected that the move was geared towards preventing voter fraud, which was not in existence. Mainly Republican legislators have applied their efforts to activities that discourage minorities from voting. Such activities include purging voter rolls, implementing voter identification laws, preventing former felons from polling, and making voter registration for minority communities extremely difficult.
In particular, former president Trump faulted and attacked voting by mail relentlessly, asserting it would lead to prevalent fraud. The Grand Old Party had also mobilized funds in millions of dollars to recruit poll monitors in tens of thousands and challenge the last general elections (Epps et al. 398). Though they managed to spread election rigging accusations in the media, their evidence at the Supreme Court did not hold any water. Republicans have acknowledged that the purpose of the allegations and promoting certain electoral ideologies is to make it difficult for Black Democrats to participate in polls and about partisan concerns.
Apart from that, money plays a significant role in American politics due to campaign donors and their relationship with their preferred candidates and political parties. Since the state and federal aspirants tend to lean toward the wealthy, the congressional and representative priorities often reflect the affluent population’s interests. The priorities are upside down instead of focusing on the poor and the working class, contributing to the economic and social transformation. Money factor results in a distorted policy landscape that is responsive to the needs of the conservative billionaires and millionaires.
The Solution to Voter Suppression
The government ought to adopt electoral statutes that limit the use of money in general election campaigns. It ought to give independent commission powers and authority to set a level-playing ground for all aspirants and parties. The electoral commission should also be given powers to conduct elections without interference by the political players. Every voter should be given an equal chance to elect leaders of their choice and a good environment cultivated during polls to facilitate a free, fair, and verifiable process.
The political system of the United States of America is purported to be democratic but lacks certain tenets of such administrative space. For instance, it has been characterized by gerrymandering, a lack of representation of minorities and women in government and suppresses voters’ ability to cast ballots. To cure gerrymandering and lack of representation of women and minorities, the government should adopt laws and policies that protect the rights of special interest groups. The gender equality bill on CEDAW should be debated and passed in both federal and state houses of representation. Strong and autonomous feminist movements should be built to champion the needs and rights of women and girls in the political systems. The legislatures also ought to be educated on the market for non-partisan and independent commissions or bodies to delineate district boundaries in a bid to avert gerrymandering in the U.S.
Baird, Robert P. “The invention of Whiteness: The Long History of a Dangerous Idea.” The Guardian, 2021.
Borodin, A., Lev, O., Shah, N., & Strangway, T. “Big City vs. the Great Outdoors: Voter Distribution and How It Affects Gerrymandering”. IJCAI. 2018. Pp. 98-104.
Chafetz, J., & Pozen, D. How Constitutional Norms Break Down. UCLA L. Rev. 65 (2018): 1430.
Epps, Daniel, and Ganesh Sitaraman. The Future of Supreme Court Reform. Harv. L. Rev. F. 134 (2020): 398.
Fisher, Max. “Belonging is Stronger than Facts”: The Age of Misinformation. New York Times (2021).
Hira, E., Boland, J., & Kirschenbaum, J. Equity for the People. Brennan Center Organization, 2020.
Webster, Steven W., and Alan I. Abramowitz. “The Ideological Foundations of Affective Polarization in the US Electorate”. American Politics Research 45.4 (2017): 621-647.