The purpose of this post is to examine Democratic Erosion in the context of the United States, potential strategies to mitigate democratic erosion, and how democratic erosion led to the Capitol Hill Riots on January, 6th.
The first institution I would like to take a look at is our voting system. While American citizens are able to vote for whoever we want, there are problems with our system. Voter fraud has occurred on both sides of the aisle. This has come to light recently with the last presidential election. Whether it be a mailman or women destroying Trump or Biden mail in ballets, people using false/dead social security numbers in order to secure more votes for their candidates, or simply a miscount of votes (whether purposeful or not), our voting system has a lot it could work on. These problems can be fixed by increasing voter security at every level. Post office employees should not have direct access to our ballets . This would curtail some of the problems listed above. Ballots should be counted precisely in order to assure that the official number is the correct one. There should also be an effort made on the federal level to stop any attempt to physically make it harder for the opposition to receive votes, whether that be through mandates limiting who can vote, limiting voting access, etc. In taking these concrete steps, our voting system will not only be more secure for both party participants, but fairer. Everyone should have a say, and no one’s “say” should be more important than another’s.
Another institution which demands examination is the media. Both conservatives and liberals have very biased news networks, whether that be Fox news for right leaning people or CNN for left leaning people. While it is perfectly fine to express your views, stating your views as “fact” is very problematic, given that your audience may view your opinion as just that, a fact. Very few places offer unbiased news sources anymore. News stations are ultimately a business and try to cater their information to their audience in order to maintain viewer retention and make money. However, this does not validate make the stating opinions as facts. News should be presented in a non-biased format. For example, “This is what happened. THEN this is what I think about it.” Most of the time, the “this is what I think about it” massively influences how the “facts” are laid out. How do we fix biased reporting? News stations should list the facts prior to stating their opinion, and clarify between facts and opinions. While this may seem easy on paper, I am unsure if this will ever happen. And frankly if it does happen it will not be anytime soon, as the media right now seems so polarized and opinionated on both sides as a result of the current political climate.
As far as a recent event that represents our countries democratic backsliding, we can look no further than January 6th of this year, also known as the capitol riots. A recent article highlighted three main points of interest regarding the insurrection. The first point was that this event was not unique. Even in the past few months, events like this have occurred all over the world. They typically occur over issues of extreme government power, stolen elections, violent repression, curtailing certain rights, or an attempt to extend one’s stay in office . What makes the Capitol Hill riots so unique is that it was so blatant, as individuals took selfies and videos to post all over social media. The second thing the article points out, from a democratic erosion point of view, is that January 6th is actually an outcome of Democratic Erosion, rather than a cause of it. A 2020 annual freedom report found that civil liberties and general freedom have been in decline in the United States over the past 14 years. The main “cause” for this insurrection seems to be the massive polarization in the country, as mentioned in the media paragraph above. There is a large divide in opinions, confirmation bias, and even radicalization, so this insurrection was really no surprise when thought about from this perspective. The 3rd issue the article brought up was that January 6th was a game of “follow the leader”. This was a result of Trump’s loyal following. Trump used the issues with the U.S. voting system and the media to persuade his following that everyone was against them, causing this drastic outcome.
In this post we see how 2 problematic institutions have paved the way for this event on January 6th to occur, and how this is an example of democratic backsliding within our own country. These institutions need to be fixed in order for something like this to never occur again.