Is American democracy declining amid increasing inequality? Make sure to connect your argument with the articles we covered during the class, and your own thoughts and knowledge
Note that for this question, it is required to provide solid arguments and supporting ideas based on real examples beyond the assigned readings, as we already discussed this topic in class.
The answer should be 750-1,000 words, single-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, with 1-inch margins all around.
Before writing your response, please copy and paste the question that you have chosen.
Do not write your name in the file.
When referring to the assigned readings, you may either disagree to the authors’ arguments. Simply explain why you agree or disagree to them.
Use direct quotations only when they are essential for your argument.
It is not necessary to type the full titles of the readings. Simply use in-text citations. e.g., (Milanovic 2012)
When you use external sources, it is required to provide references correctly.
Main grading criteria are clarity, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and organization.
The United States of America is known worldwide as the land of democracy, where political power belongs to the people, and the government serves the people. Nevertheless, recent events and data suggest that American democracy is declining, and the growing inequality is one of the leading causes. This essay aims to provide evidence and arguments to support this claim by analyzing the relationship between inequality and democracy and its implications in the United States.
Firstly, it is necessary to understand the definition and concept of democracy. According to Schumpeter (1942), democracy is a “mechanism for competition among leaders,” where citizens vote to choose their leaders, who then compete to implement their policies. Democracy requires equality in the sense that every citizen should have the same opportunities and rights to participate in the political process, regardless of their economic status. However, growing inequality in the United States means that a large percentage of the population lacks political representation, leading to a decline in democracy.
One of the main effects of inequality on democracy is the concentration of political power in the hands of the wealthy. A study by Gilens and Page (2014) found that the preferences of the wealthy have a much stronger influence on policy outcomes than those of the average citizen. In other words, the wealthy have more power to shape the policies that affect their lives and interests than the majority of the population. As a result, policy decisions tend to favor the rich, leading to further inequality, as argued by Milanovic (2012).
Moreover, the wealthy use their financial power to influence political campaigns, giving them even more control over the political process. The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010 allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, effectively giving the wealthy more influence over the electoral process. This decision has been criticized for further concentrating power in the hands of the wealthy and undermining the democratic principles of equality and fairness.
Another effect of inequality on democracy is the erosion of trust in institutions. A study by Edelman (2020) found that trust in government, business, media, and non-governmental organizations is declining in the United States, reaching historic lows. This decline in trust is partly due to the perception that institutions are serving the interests of the wealthy rather than the people. When people lose faith in institutions, they are less likely to participate in the political process, further weakening democracy.
Furthermore, inequality can also lead to social unrest and political polarization. The Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 and the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 were both responses to growing inequality and the perception that the political system was not serving the interests of the people. These movements, along with others, have highlighted the growing divide between the rich and poor, as well as the racial and ethnic disparities in the United States. The resulting political polarization and social unrest make it more challenging to reach consensus and implement policies that benefit the entire population, further weakening democracy.
In conclusion, American democracy is declining, and increasing inequality is one of the leading causes. The concentration of political power in the hands of the wealthy, the erosion of trust in institutions, and social unrest and political polarization are all effects of inequality that weaken democracy. To reverse this trend, it is necessary to address the root causes of inequality, such as tax policies, campaign finance laws, and investment in education and social programs. Only by ensuring that every citizen has equal opportunities and rights to participate in the political process can we strengthen democracy and build a more just and equitable society.