American democracy unfair?

Gerrymandering, strange district borders and lies. Welcome to America

Washington Post

Opinion | A great day for democracy

THE DEMOCRATS' return to control over the House of Representatives is much more than a victory for one party. It is a sign of health for American democracy.

Distrustful of untrammeled majorities, the authors of the Constitution favored checks and balances, including, crucially, the check that the legislative branch might place upon the executive. Over the past two years, the Republican majorities in the House and Senate have failed to exercise reasonable oversight.

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American democracy is in dire need of an overhaul

By Joe Harker

The US midterm results are in and the Democrats have won back the House of Representatives while the Republicans have bolstered their control of the Senate. This election has seen the highest voter turnout for midterms since 1970, with over 114 million votes being cast.

US president Donald Trump claimed the election result was a "huge victory" despite the Republicans losing the House, while many have criticised the democratic systems in America as being unfairly weighted in favour of his party.

The Financial Times reports that American politicians are accused of redrawing political boundaries to suit their own agendas and gain an unfair advantage. Claims have been brought to courts that redrawing the boundaries has been done in an attempt to reduce the impact of African American voters and protect Republicans. Electoral maps in the US are redrawn every 10 years in an attempt to equalise populations across voting districts but they are too often used as a political tool to gain an advantage.

A democracy where a citizen's vote is rendered less valuable than someone else's is not delivering a fair system for the people. The 2016 Presidential election where Trump got almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton but still won the presidency should have been a clue that some votes are more equal than others.

The US has been classed as a "flawed democracy" by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the past two years as public confidence in democratic institutions has fallen sharply. There are 20 countries whose democracies are ranked as working better than the US and they are reported to be at risk of sliding further into authoritarianism. Particular attention was paid to the way congressional district boundaries are drawn, with the EIU saying it has changed the political landscape of the country.

The Guardian reports that the US system of democracy is rigged to favour smaller, rural states. They argue that in the 2016 Senate vote the Democrats getting 51.4 million votes to the Republicans 40 million should not have resulted in the Republicans winning 22 of the 36 seats up for election.

The New Statesman argues that the US is falling under the control of "minority rule", not of ethnic minorities but of a minority of the population whose votes matter more than everyone else because they are over represented at the ballot box.

People whose votes carry more weight and have a greater proportional impact on democracy occupy a privileged position as they can decide the future of their nation more than people elsewhere in the country. Whether by bad luck or design the majority of votes that matter more go towards the Republican party. All votes are equal, but some votes are more equal than others.

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How Gerrymandering is Destroying American Democracy

Imagine, if you would, the following scenario:

It is election night. Democrats have won the national popular vote in the battle for the House of Representatives by six points, 53 percent to 47 percent. Yet Republicans still retain control of the House, because despite that deficit, the distribution of the national vote nonetheless allowed them to prevail in just enough individual House races to hold a slim two-or-three-seat majority.

President Trump's Twitter-thumbs spring into action, unleashing a volley of his trademark all-capital-letter tweets: "GREAT NIGHT FOR REPUBLICANS!!!" Never mind that Democrats actually won a fairly substantial voting majority in historical terms; right on cue, the TV blowhards fill the airwaves with insta-analysis, declaring the election a major repudiation of the Democratic critique of the Trump presidency and a ringing public reaffirmation of the Trump agenda.

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