Citizens have questioned the validity of governing bodies throughout history. In America, this is especially true. In a large country of immigrants, many question if their government truly represents their people, even if it means undermining the democracy their forefathers built. When examining such a democracy, understanding voter turnout is important in determining who is really determining elections. The United States has consistently had one of the lowest voter turnout rates of not only western civilization, but of all developed nations, since the mid-1960s, so I question if voter suppression adversely aides one party. I hypothesize that if voter turnout increased then the Democratic party would receive a higher share of votes, due to the fact it has been proven Republican voters are more likely to vote despite poor conditions, such as weather (Gomez, Hansford and Krause 2007).
A look at how the world’s most powerful democracy falls short:
According to Abraham Lincoln, The United States of America was the only “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” but people have often questioned how accurately the government represents the people. One major issue with representation in the U.S. government: how can you represent the people, if the people choose not to participate? Citizens often choose not to cast a ballot. In fact, since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the percentage of the voting-age population to cast ballots in presidential elections has fluctuated between 45 and 65 percent, resulting in six of our past 10 presidents identifying as Republicans. To clarify, Republican presidential candidates have won 8 of the past 13 elections, but it is sometimes said that Democrats would benefit from higher voter turnout. This paper intends to examine if either political party benefits from less participation in democracy, because that would run counter to the intent of the U.S. government – to be representative of the people.
In The Slave Next Door, written by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter, attention is brought to contemporary forms of slavery. The book gives historical context to the practice of enslavement, before mostly examining how modern day slavery is perpetrated in different corners of the world. It also gives in-depth analysis to several types of modern day bondage. From child trafficked for sex to adults forced to labor under the threat of violence, the book gives insight into many acts that fall under what some consider slavery – depending on one’s interpretation of the label.
The 2015 film Beasts of No Nation, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, is the story of how a child-soldier named Agu, actor Abraham Attah, becomes a part of a rebel, West African militant group led by ‘Commandant’, played by Idris Elba. It showed how a mostly ungoverned, resource-lacking portion of West Africa became home to several violent militant groups. Groups who roam the land in search of resources, regardless of how many innocent women and children they might have to kill on their way to acquiring them. It relays a pretty detail-less story of how an area with limited economic options and even less government control became a neo-slave experience for those least apt to fend for themselves. In short, the lack of a governing body to enforce any type of political economy can lead to contemporary forms of slavery by failing to enforce the labor rights of individuals, which is what happens to Agu and several others in Beasts of No Nation.
African slavery in the New World is one of the most important parts of American history. During the settlement of the North and South American colonies, many factors led to their development into autonomous countries. Specifically, in the British colonies in North America, settlers needed to cultivate the land of the colonies so that they could live and grow new cash crops to send back to England. A major challenge with those initiatives was that the labor was treacherous, due to the new land they colonized and people (American Indians) they encountered. The easiest economic option when faced with a capital and labor shortage is to add unskilled and low-wage laborers to the workforce. That labor shortage was filled in the form of enslaved Africans, which led to the systemic and violent – a fact not to be understated, because it was brutally inhumane – racism that is associated with slavery, not the other way around. Dire economic conditions drove the colonies towards slavery and were the reasons behind its exponential growth in the early 1700s.
Everything I’ve read (articles and books) that still sticks with me. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but a good place to start.
Listed alphabetically. Presented without personal commentary. A brief summary may be included.
- With zealots taking over the legislature even as the state’s demographics shift, Texas has become the nation’s bellwether – The New Yorker
- Inspired by James Baldwin’s 1963 classic “The Fire Next Time,” Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new book, “Between the World and Me,” is a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today. – New York Times Book Review
- Americans want, and need, to move on from the debate over torture in Iraq and Afghanistan and close this tragic chapter in our nation’s history. Prosecuting those responsible could tear apart a country at war. Instead, the best way to confront the crimes of the past is for the man who authorized them to take full responsibility.
- In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system. – The Atlantic
- In the piece, Baldwin detailed his evangelical childhood and his views on the treatment and condition of blacks in America. Baldwin uses words, Langston Hughes once said, “as the sea uses waves,” and his evocative essay reveals, among other things, the daily fears that many African-Americans lived with as a matter of course. – The New Yorker
- The First World War’s horrific human and economic costs, the disappointment of hopes that the war would somehow reform or redeem society, the failure to achieve an enduring peace, the subsequent Great Depression that indicted the liberal world order for which so many Americans believed they had fought, the ensuing collapse of democracy in so many European countries, the slide toward a second world war—the experience of the two decades after the war systematically made mockery of every ideal and hope and promise for which Americans imagined they had joined the fight in April 1917. – The Atlantic
- Twenty months after Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, his mother is still grappling with how to grieve in private following her son’s public death – The Ringer