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Ask Any Citizen: Why Americans Aren’t Represented By Their Government

Updated on January 12, 2008

Ask Any Citizen: Why Americans Aren’t Represented By Their Government

Lou Dobbs finished his interview on the January 10th, 2008 edition of the Daily Show with a very frightening statement: "The American people are not being represented by their government."

How many people go to vote on Election Day, believing that they must choose between the lesser of two evils? This is not representation. We in the United States are allowing the minority to rule the majority, and it all goes back to local politics.

Of the Americans who vote, many only appear for one election a year-the presidential election. These are, no doubt, the same voices that echo Lou Dobbs, saying that they are not represented. That the candidates competing for the oval office are backed by big businesses and special interest groups, and are not guided by the opinions of the average US citizen.

The reason for this is not some conspiracy of manipulation, as some radical voices claim. The reason is much, much simpler. Ask any citizen to name his senator, to name his mayor and to name his congressman. Ask any citizen whether they know if their governor is a democrat or a republican. Ask what platform the mayor was elected on. The odds are that he won't know, particularly if he is young and doesn't have a career in politics. Americans have become apathetic about politics, and a great many of us agree that we aren't represented.

But this is a self-perpetuating problem. Americans see that they aren't represented, so they don't bother to vote. They don't bother to follow the mayoral elections; they don't bother to follow elections for any of their representative. Since most of the middle-class Joes aren't voting, the elite determine who becomes mayor, and the elite-being the only ones interested--form the pool from which professional politicians emerge. They shape the system every day, while the blue collar American pays attention to politics once every four years. Since the politicians running for president don't represent the average citizen, they become apathetic and the cycle repeats.

Presidential candidates aren't conjured from smoke, and if Americans want to be represented again, they need to realize what this means. Presidential candidates have histories that go back to local politics. Rudy Guiliani was a mayor. Barack Obama is a senator. Every single candidate for president emerges from politics at local levels-the politics that the average American ignores. If the only people voting for our mayors and our governors and our senators are special interest groups and the wealthy, it is only natural that elected officials are going to favor these groups. Since presidential candidates are pulled from the world of local politics, it follows that the average citizens will be forced to vote for a president they do not truly support, and who does not represent them.

One of the many freedoms that US citizens enjoy is the freedom to be apathetic, but it comes at a great price. If Americans want to be represented by their officials, they need to start paying attention to what goes on in their cities. They need to know who their mayor is and why, because in 15 years that person may well have his eye on a congressional seat, and from there, the White House. If Americans paid less heed to popular entertainment and made local politics a hobby (and maybe picked up the newspaper every so often) then they would, in a short time, enjoy the privilege of voting for senators and congressmen that they truly, whole-heartedly support. And a short time after that, the candidates competing for the oval office would come from a pool of people that accurately reflected the attitude of the citizenry.

Do you want to fix America? Vote more than once every four years, and it'll happen on its own.


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    • SparklingJewel profile image

      SparklingJewel 10 years ago from upper midwest

      I agree that one is not helping the situation if they do not get involved, vote, help create solutions, and bring in people that will represent them. It is much easier to veg in front of the TV and induldge in all manner of entertainment too much of the time. There truly is a simple solution to raise one's consciousness to a higher plane of thought...I will always suggest seeking a spiritual path of integrity. Be the change you want to see in others. Soul freedom from lethargy, sloth, indulgence, apathy, etc is the only true freedom.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Our government is far from perfect. Money flows into national, state and local politics from oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, banks and credit card companies, auto companies, the beer and liquor industry, trade unions and other organizations who don't give the money without expecting something in return. The "haves" have a lot more influence than the "have-nots." Nevertheless, as Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst system---except for all the others." Good government is a scarce commodity in the world.

      Lou Dobbs's demagoguery over immigration is a poor examply of the irresponsiveness of our government, however. George Bush and a number of Republicans and Democrats did their best to craft a solution which would be responsive to our country[s needs. But Dobbs and others managed to stir up enough prejudice and even irrational prejudice against immigrants to defeat the Bush proposal.

      Many believe that publicly financed political campaigns is the be the answer to having a government more responsive to the needs and concerns of ordinary people. Our present system is becoming an oligarchy, too responsive to BIG OIL, BIG PHARMA, BIG BANKING, BIG WALL STREET, et al, thanks to campaign finance and lobbying laws that are holey as Swiss cheese.