A democracy is defined as a system of government that gives power to the people, who exercise it directly or indirectly by electing representatives to act on their behalf. The United States of America (USA) adopted a democratic style of government in 1776 that gives citizens the power to elect individuals who make laws to govern the country. The nation’s democracy is characterized by six main factors: free and open elections, majority rule, popular sovereignty, individual rights, inclusion, and free elections.
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In that regard, the US is a model democracy because it holds free, frequent, and inclusive elections, its citizens enjoy a wide range of individual freedoms and rights, and it promotes political equality and the inclusion of minorities. In addition, its institutions and processes are relatively transparent, and the system offers a meaningful choice among political alternatives.
Free, Frequent, and Inclusive Elections
One of the major qualities of a democracy is a free, frequent, and inclusive election process. Modern democracies conduct elections every few years in which voters are allowed to choose their leaders: they can either retain the existing ones or replace them with new ones. The US holds the presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives elections every four years in the federal, state, and local jurisdictions. Members of Congress are directly elected by voters in each state.
The citizens get the opportunity to choose individuals who represent them at all levels of government (Tocqueville 45). The president and the vice president are elected indirectly by citizens through the Electoral College. If none of the candidates receives a majority of the votes cast, the winner is chosen by the House of Representatives. If the House fails, the winner is elected by the Senate (Tocqueville 47). Members from all ethnic groups are allowed to vote and hold office at all government levels.
Meaningful Choice among Political Alternatives
The United States political system functions under a two-party system. Critics have argued that this system is inefficient because it does not offer enough choices to citizens who have diverse political ideologies. However, the two parties offer opposing alternatives that represent both ends of the American political spectrum. The two parties have different ideologies that the electorate can choose from when deciding the candidate to support in an election.
For instance, Democrats advocate for the establishment of a government that will improve the country’s social structures (Jackson 39). On the contrary, Republicans promote enhanced equality and communal responsibility (Jackson 40). They favor a government that plays a minor role in people’s lives. Both parties hold differing views on controversial matters such as abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, climate change, and voting rights, thus offering the electorate meaningful political alternatives.
Political Equality and Minority Inclusion
Political equality in the United States allows citizens to access political institutions, and it is founded on the Declaration of Independence that treats all people as equal and gives them the right to alter political institutions in order to protect their freedom (Allen). The proposition that all people are created equal is the basis of the United States’ political system (Jackson 45). Moreover, it promotes the inclusion of political minorities in the affairs of the nation. In that regard, all individuals are free to associate and express themselves, vote, and hold office (Allen). These rights are enjoyed by everyone, including political minorities.
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Political analysts have argued that in modern democracies, the most important characteristic of political equality is the rights of citizens to the association and free expression (Tocqueville 58). The rights to vote and hold office were considered key elements of political equality in traditional democracies. The Constitution of the United States protects the citizens’ rights to association, expression, and contract, and as a result, promotes human dignity, capitalism and curbs social discrimination (Allen).
Individual Freedom and Expression
The Constitution of the United States protects the rights of American citizens. The Bill of Rights guarantees all citizens certain personal freedoms and rights and limits the power of the government with regard to key proceedings. It states that powers that are not awarded to the federal authority are reserved for the people of the states (Tocqueville 76). In that regard, people are free to express themselves, associate, keep and bear arms, belong to a religion of choice, decline unreasonable searches and seizures, and enjoy a speedy and public trial if accused of a crime. The government cannot use legislation or judicial interpretation to abridge or violate any of the aforementioned civil liberties without due process.
Transparency of Government Institutions and Processes
The Department of Justice issued the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines in 2009 in order to reaffirm the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability (Tocqueville 83). The guidelines require government institutions to engage in proactive disclosures and give timely responses to requests from the public. Government institutions and agencies utilize technology to disseminate information to the public and give timely responses. In 2013, President Obama issued the Open Data Policy that was aimed at increasing the level of data transparency and public accountability within government institutions (Jackson 61).
Great milestones have been attained, even though the policy’s implementation is lacking in some areas. Government institutions and processes are relatively open to public scrutiny. In the past few years, the police force has come under scrutiny due to reports of discriminatory arrests, excessive use of force during arrests, and brutality. The situation has improved because of increased accountability, primarily due to the implementation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that allows the Department of Justice to bring suits against law enforcement agencies that violate the rights of American citizens (Jackson 74). Many police officers have been sentenced to prison for violating the rights of individuals during arrests.
The United States is a model democracy because it fulfills all the requirements of modern democracy. It holds free, frequent, and inclusive elections, citizens enjoy several freedoms and rights, government institutions and processes are relatively transparent, and its democratic system promotes equality and offers meaningful political alternatives. Minority groups are not maligned even though they could be underrepresented in certain states. Moreover, these groups enjoy similar political privileges as those enjoyed by the majority. Elections are held regularly, and registered voters are given the opportunity to elect their leaders.
Moreover, they can contact them during the process of making laws to make suggestions or offer recommendations regarding new legislation. American citizens are free to express themselves, and they enjoy several rights that are protected by the constitution. Additionally, government processes and institutions are relatively transparent and accountable because several laws and policies have been implemented to make access to public information easier. In that regard, the United States can be regarded as a model democracy because it fulfills all the requirements of modern democracy as suggested by political scientists.
Allen, David. “Political Equality and the Task of American Democracy.” ABC Religion & Ethics. 2018. Web.
Jackson, John. The American Political Party System: Continuity and Change Over Ten Presidential Elections. Brookings Institution Press, 2015.
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Xist Publishing, 2015.