Political ideologies are key to understanding the advancement of civilizations. They are shaped through revolutions, class struggles and are meant to replace obsolete models of governance. The political divide in the US has been driven by two visions. Jefferson believed voters had to be educated so as not to be deceived by the false promises of the elite, and considered the “common man” could rule the state. In contrast, the Federalists believed the US had to mimic the British system and form power from the aristocratic strata.
Democratic values have been at the heart of American politics, shaping public policy and civic engagement. Democracy itself, however, is transforming to adapt to modern times. Our society has turned democracy into a good term used by politicians, the media, and citizens. Different groups attach their own meaning to democracy, thereby eroding its value. American Presidents have individually interpreted democracy on the base of previous historical changes and their educational and social backgrounds.
It seems that ideas derived from Jeffersonian democracy are closer to the original intent of the concept. Nonetheless, globalization and the influence of the financial sector have reduced the role of agricultural development. Jefferson’s views on who is eligible to become President are not applicable to the current political landscape. Finances play a vital role in a candidate’s success as well as their ability to formulate political campaigns and collaborate with the media. It would be difficult for “any” citizen to reach presidential levels, because education is a privilege in modern society. The potential candidate would have to be financially stable and this contradicts the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy.
The question of whether uneducated voters are a threat to democracy is a complex one in our media saturated society. The American public is polarized in their political views now more than ever, with many consuming information without critically evaluating it. In this context it becomes easier for a presidential candidate to manipulate an uneducated voter through populism and political theatre, which is threatening to democracy and can lead to inevitable changes.
The overabundance of political campaigns on interactive social media platforms creates the illusion of an engaged and informed public. Nonetheless, it is almost impossible to distinguish what sways voters to make decisions. If Jefferson were to apply his democratic ideals to present day America, he would adjust them according to existing racial, class, gender and cultural inequalities. Democratic values are constantly being questioned in present day America.