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Democratic Participation Essay

1538 words - 6 pages

One of the biggest concerns in the modern American democracy is the lack of political interest and participation that has increased since the 1960s. Most political scientists agree with the idea that a healthy democracy needs a healthy amount of participation and political efficacy; however, the big debate involves knowing what is the amount necessary to be considered “healthy”? Some political scientists believe the theory, in which average American’s lack of participation is in extreme harm for our democracy. Nevertheless, there are another group of political scientists that are in the camp that believes that democratic participation is too high, with the advent of political advocacy groups lobbying politicians, the nation has created a gridlock where so many ideas are in the arena, that this country cannot reach a consensus anymore. The author of the book, Mr. Hudson, agrees with the first theory that our lack of participation is harmful, and I agree Mr. Hudson, wholeheartedly. The lack of involvement in the American political process, that is currently being exhibiting, is extremely harmful to the political process because people, especially with a lower socio-economic status, are not being represented or thought about while this nation makes important policy decisions.
In Hudson’s “fourth challenge”, he mentions that idea and importance of democratic participation in the American political system, and how it may not be operating at a high enough participation rate for the nation to be successful in the long-term. In the beginning of the chapter, he mentions the two dominant arguments about participation in modern political science circles. The first argument is that American political efficacy is lower than previous generations, causing lower turnout in elections, which is causing a lack of true representation for Americans’ wishes. This lack in efficacy can also be attached to the sad fact that the average American’s knowledge of politics has dropped over the past few decades. Because a large opinion of voices are being not being heard, since they are not voting, it is limiting the power of democracy to be fair and open for all citizens. However, there is the counter argument in which some political scientists argue the “overloaded” democracy theory, where the recent resurgence of political advocacy groups lobbying so hard to promote their cause, it is causing political leaders to be unable to handle the varying wishes of different constituents; therefore, it is likely that a reduction in democratic participation could help in regards to our nation passing major legislation, by getting rid of that congestion. Nevertheless, at the end of the chapter, Hudson concludes the chapter by agreeing with the first argument that the U.S. does not have enough participation, which he believes is a major harm to its democracy. During the last third of the chapter, Hudson states his theories in regards to fixing the issue of low participation. He first...

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