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America, A Democracy?

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America, a Democracy?

America. What's the first thought to come to your mind after hearing this? Democracy? Land of Rights? That would make sense. America, the land of the free. The land of opportunity. But is America really a democracy? A country for the people, by the people? To an extent, but not exactly. The people of this great country do not have unlimited rights and the freedom to do what they please. Many of the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution are being limited and slowly being taken away.

Since America is such a powerful country, it follows that the United States President is one of the most powerful figures in the world. Considering the United States is a democracy, it would seem obvious that the people directly elect their leader. Wrong. The popular vote has nothing to do with the election of the president. Instead, the way the president is decided is by whichever candidate wins the most electoral votes. Each state has a certain amount of electoral votes based on the number of people in that state's House of Representatives. In most cases, the winner of the electoral vote is also the winner of the popular vote. In a few rare cases though the winner of the popular vote lost the election. This shouldn't be. The U.S. should have the people directly elect the president. A most recent case was the last election of 2000, Bush vs. Gore. Gore had the popular vote won by a margin, but the race for electoral votes was neck in neck. It all came down to one last state, Florida. Bush won the election even though he lost the popular vote. When the Electoral College was put in place as part of the voting process it seemed a good idea. "Our framers distrusted democracy and saw the Electoral College as a deliberative body able to correct bad choices made by the people." (Anderson 519). Times have changed and today's society is a lot different that it was when George Washington was President. It's about time that the U.S eliminates the Electoral College and makes America more of a democracy by making the popular vote the deciding factor in electing the president.

Along the same lines, the 1st Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens freedom of speech. On June 8, 1789 this amendment was put into the constitution. Madison said at the time, ''the people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.'' Well in 1917, this inviolable right of speech was no longer inviolable. The Supreme Court decided that you only have the freedom of speech while not endangering others or presenting a clear and present danger. That seems fair. This makes the law able to punish people who pull a fire alarm when there's no fire, or call in a false bomb threat, but since when was handing out a pamphlet that had your beliefs on it illegal. Ask Charles Schenck and Elizabeth Baer who were charged and prosecuted for making pamphlets talking about World War I and handing it out to possible



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