American Democracy: Is it Unhealthy and Who is to Blame?
Despite being one of the oldest and most consistently stable democracies in the Western world, the American government, and American democracy as a whole, has frequently come under fire in recent years. Whether it is political parties, pundits, bloggers or citizens, Americans and non-Americans are all lining up to take shots at what they diagnose as a storied democracy crumbling before their eyes. Two of Robert Dahl’s criteria for a healthy democracy are enlightened understanding: are citizens able to acquire the political information necessary to participate in their own democracy, and control of the agenda: do the American senators and members of congress have exclusive and…show more content… In terms of how informed American citizens are about their government, it has been well documented that the majority of the American populace are not well informed about political goings-on, and have not been for a lengthy period of time. In a 2012 survey issued to 1010 American adults, Pew Research Center found that out of a 12 question survey covering the American presidential election of that year, American voters were only able to answer 58.2% of the questions. Only 85% could correctly identify Joe Biden as the current vice president, and only 40% knew that the Republicans had a majority in Congress (Pew Research Center, 2012, p 1). Even more alarming was that among the citizens surveyed who were not registered voters, the percentages of people able to correctly answer these questions fell to 60%, and 22% respectively. While unregistered voters being unable to vote would certainly mean a drop off between the two groups ability to answer the question, drop off as large as a quarter of respondents being unable to identify the vice president is still cause for alarm. In another study conducted by Pew Research Center comparing American citizens’ ability to answer political questions in 1989 and 2007, they concluded that American ignorance of current events is a systemic problem rather than an emerging one. When asked to identify the vice president, only 74% of