T Nation

Does It Matter America is Looking Less and Less Democratic?

I think we can all agree the government should reflect the will of the people in a democratic society. In a representational democracy, that means the distribution of elected officials (in terms of party affiliation) should match the distribution of votes cast, right? Maybe not, but that’s what my intuition tells me. And yet in the 2016 election…

  • In 2016, 49.1% of votes cast for HoR were for Republicans. 48% of votes were cast for Democrats. Yet Rs hold 55% of the seats, Ds hold 44%.

  • In 2016, more votes were cast for Democratic senators than Republican, yet Republicans control the Senate. This one is a little misleading because only 1/3 of the Senate is reelected at a time.

  • And of course, the person who won the presidency didn’t win a majority, or even a plurality of votes cast.

Does is matter the makeup of the government doesn’t correspond to the will of the people? There are some thoughtful minds on here. I’d like to hear some opinions. Is this a systemic problem?

I would think this isn’t sustainable in the long term, but I’m not sure how skewed things need to be before people start to revolt.

Don’t want to make this a Democrat vs. Republican debate. I’m more interested in the health of our institutions and democracy.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

Democratically electing legislators (originally only the House) does not a “representational democracy” make.

If that were the case same sex marriage would be illegal in CA & NC for starters.

We democratically elect the legislative branch via our residences in certain states, democratically elect the head executive via our residences in certain states, and that’s that. We don’t directly vote on any legislation, and in states were they do, even democratically passed legislation can, and rightfully has, been shutdown via the judicial branch.

Some states do have direct democracy on a handful of bills, but for the most part, it’s not really “common” by any stretch of the imagination.


There are more versed individuals here that can answer your question better than me but just based on your question I don’t think you’re considering regional distribution of voters … i.e. The proportion of votes cast for either party is kind of irrelevant on an aggregate level especially in terms of the HoR.

Representatives aren’t picked from a pool but are sent to Congress by the people from the district they represent - there just may be a larger density of people/more votes cast disproportionately for one party v the other coming from districts who elected a D rather than an R.

Same thing with the Senate - I’d be willing to bet states who send Democrats to the senate tend to have a higher population density/more voters than R senators/senate states. It’s part and parcel to a federal system from what I understand and not necessarily any reflection of the health of our republic…

This is a pretty dumb metric. Next to using the Senate to complain about gerrymandering, it is just saying nothing at all.

Population of CA = 39m
population of Alabama = 4.9m
population of Alaska = 741k
population of Arizona = 6.9m

That is 6 republican senators compared to 2 democrat ones, and I bet the two dems would still have many, many more votes than R’s in that scenario. Shit Hilary got more votes in CA alone than any one of those other states have total population, so it isn’t a stretch to say that the D senators from CA received more votes than the entire population of any of the others.

That metric is meaningless.

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Plus like half those eligible don’t even bother to vote. It’s sort of a moot point.

You seem to have missed the fact that the nature of the Senate is not a new development.

Yep. Our form of government can be described as a constitutional republic as well.

Actually, it does. Democratically electing officials to represent groups of people is like the exact definition of representative democracy. Our government can be described by multiple terms. Maybe we can have a discussion about it in a separate thread.

Actually, I think the HoR is where you’d expect elected officials to most closely match the votes cast. There are 435 districts, each with approx 700,000 people in them, so there’s a level of granularity yu have here - you don’t have the “big chunk mechanics” of Senate votes and Electoral Collage to put things askew.

I agree, of the three points, this one is the least helpful. You make a good argument. The fact that Alaska has the same amount of influence as California in the Senate implies an Alaskan voter has disproportionately more influence over policy than a Californian voter. Is this a problem?

Similarity, with Presidential elections, your vote may count for more or less depending on which state you call home.

The responses seem to be along the lines of “this is how the system works”. That’s great and all, but if the results of that system are a government that doesn’t represent the voters, isn’t that a problem and at what point are we no longer a democracy?

It depends on when you ask, but there is an arbitrary point at which people decide this.

Usually when their party has gotten the boot. See reps. for the last 8 years, and dems for the next 3.

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I think the problem is that we have two parties that don’t fully represent the people who have voted for them. Not every Republican believes in god or is anti-abortion. Just as not every Democrat believes in this identity politics crap that tells them they have to believe Caitlin Jenner is beautiful and brave.

Just… No. It really can’t be and have those terms be accurate.

Dude you appear to be lacking some fundamental level knowledge of the purpose of the Senate, how Senators were originally elected, and in general the checks and balances set within our government in order to continue this discussion.

This is not meant to be an insult, but I’m really not sure how you can ask this if you “got it”. Look at the 17th, and the responsibilities of the Senate for starters.

Not really, it doesn’t. Your vote is one vote is one vote. And it truly is meaningless if the electors don’t listen to you.

We aren’t now, and never were a democracy.

This thread is going nowhere without redefining your terms. I think I get what you are trying to say, but I’m not sure because you aren’t accurate.

You only vote for the important stuff. If you can’t get your party to get behind what you think is the important stuff, then perhaps it’s not so important.

What have you done to get God/Abortion/Identity Politics off the agenda and your concerns onto it?

No. You might only vote for what is important to you. Whether or not that is important is a matter of perception.

I donated a million dollars to my stooge, I mean candidate. Oh wait, I didn’t do that, maybe that’s why he didn’t care about my problems.

Matters are only important in relation to how people perceive them. Are you under some impression you or anyone else see God’s truth?

Disagree. In a society there is the idea that individual matters are not always as or more important than matters which affect society as a whole.

This hasn’t happened in decades. The 2 major parties do the bidding of their campaign donors(various industries). It is their will that is done. The public is only paid lip service. It is only when the public has had enough then things will change. And it is beginning to happen.

Beat me to it. Thank you.

Beat me to this as well. I would also add that the 17th should be repealed and the State’s get their representation back.

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I think this about sums it up. This is a bit hyperbolic, but tyranny is in the eye of the beholder. You’re less likely to cry foul when your party is the one in power.

I think you’re right. If campaign donations are free speech, those with means have a louder voice than those without.

What makes you say this?

I think I have my answers. Is the will of the voter accurately reflected in our political institutions? Answer - no not really. Does it matter? Answer - only once we’ve reached an invisibility tipping point. Probably one of those lines you don’t realize you’ve crossed until it’s too late. I don’t think we’re there yet.

Interesting anecdote… I remember reading an observation on the fascist regimes that took hold in Europe in the early 20th century. Only about a third of the population needs to support the ruling party for it to maintain control of the government. Most people just go along to get along.

All of the drugs he does.


What makes you say this?

The Medicare-For-All crescendo. I watched excerpts of the Sanders vs. Cruz debate on CNN. When they were discussing healthcare Sanders wiped the floor with the pathetic Cruz. Cruz had no answer. All he did was use the republican boogeyman word taxes. When Sanders defeated that objection quite easily Cruz has no viable response. I think he tried to use another republican boogeyman word, socialism. If paying less with often better outcomes is socialism, sign me up. Once their(corporate) lies are exposed for all to see then they will succumb to the will of the people not the other way around. Which it has been for decades.

The Trump election was part of this evidence. Some prominent republicans(the Bush’s) were willing to cross party lines. It is more important to keep the status quo than it is to practice fidelity to party affiliation.

Once the private health insurance companies are mostly eradicated and not allowed to scam the public any longer then a tipping point will be reached. Hopefully after that then the takedown of Big Pharma is next.

Some time ago Americans wouldn’t have entertained this thought, but as Americans are working longer hours and continually loosing ground, they have had enough. It is the reason why Sanders is the most popular politician today.

It is, today, significantly more than it was at the founding, and for a lot of years after that.

Again you’re pontificating about something without the basic foundation of knowledge of that thing needed in order to make any sense.