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Criticisms of US “Democracy”

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Presentation on theme: "Criticisms of US “Democracy”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Criticisms of US “Democracy”
Lesson Starter List any criticisms of American democracy you can think of.

2 Learning Intentions I will:
Gain an understanding of the criticisms of US democracy Be able to answer a knowledge question on this topic

3 Success Criteria I will:
Create a mind-map on the limitations of US democracy Answer a knowledge question using the PEE technique

4 Criticisms of US “Democracy”
Voter apathy – low turnout Difficulties with voter registration Lack of choice of political parties Criticisms of US Democracy Freedom of speech - Treatment of Edward Snowden Campaign Finance – corrupt? Illegal wars – Iraq?

5 Voter Registration Like in the UK, Americans must be registered if they want to vote in elections Sometimes this can be difficult and so many potential voters are unable to vote Only 51% of Hispanic potential voters are registered in the USA This may be due to language barriers as Spanish rather than English is some people’s first language This is certainly a limitation of democracy in the USA as many Americans are unable to vote.

6 Lack of choice of parties
There are only 2 main parties in the USA – the Republicans and the Democrats (a “two party system”) This means that in most US elections there are only two real candidates – one from each party. This does not offer the US voter much choice and because these parties are so dominant it could be argued that it is undemocratic. Third strongest party is the Libertarian Party – not a force in US politics. Some smaller groups have broken from the main parties so that their different views can be heard, for example the Tea Party group is a right-wing group associated with the Republican Party.

7 Campaign Finance – Corrupt?
Campaign finance is a controversial issue in the US This is about the money which the Democrats and Republicans raise in order to fund their campaigns. Especially significant in presidential elections In the 2012 election, President Obama raised $1.2 billion on his campaign and his rival Mitt Romney raised and $1.18 billion. This suggests that you can “buy your way” into the White House…which is undemocratic.

8 Campaign Finance – Corrupt?
Also, the two parties receive huge donations from individuals and companies. Sometimes the Republican Party are accused of being “too cosy” with big Oil Companies like Shell. In 2010, the big oil companies in the US donated £21.8 billion to the Republican Party. This suggests that companies are expecting something back in return so are bribing politicians to make laws which favour oil companies.

9 Illegal wars - Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq, authorised by US President George Bush, have since been alleged to have been an illegal war. The invasion was not authorised by the United Nations (UN) and so America broke international law by getting involved. Hundreds of American soldiers have been killed or wounded in the conflict since 2003 but perhaps they should never have been sent there. It could be argued that this is a limitation of US democracy as American citizens have been sent to fight and die in a war which many people think should never have taken place.

10 Treatment of Edward Snowden – Freedom of Speech?
In 2013, a computer specialist called Edward Snowden who worked for the CIA leaked classified documents to the press. It has been called the most significant leak of classified material in US history He gave documents to newspapers such as the Washington Post which showed that the US government had a global surveillance operation where millions of people’s telephone calls, s and internet activities were being monitored and recorded. Many people criticised him for breaking US law but others see him as a hero because he informed the public about things the government were doing that he thought were wrong. It could be argued then that a limitation of US democracy is that the government is able to keep secrets from the public and prosecute anyone that reveals them – against freedom of speech? Snowden fled to Russia where he now lives and will almost certainly go to prison if he ever returns to the USA

11 Voter apathy – low turnout
It could be argued that democracy is limited in the US because millions of Americans do not bother to vote. Only 57.5% of Americans voted in the 2012 Presidential election. It could be argued that this election was not fully representative of the American public. The reasons for not voting may be because of voter apathy (not caring) and also because of the language barrier that Hispanic voters are faced with. In addition, many Americans see politicians as corrupt and do not thing their vote will change anything. Turnout in local elections and state elections is significantly lower in many states such as Hawaii. Perhaps this is a limitation of US democracy as not all Americans actually take part.

12 Knowledge Question Explain, in detail, why some citizens from a world power you have studied may criticise their government for the limitations placed on their political rights (8 marks)

13 Democratic Undemocratic
Rights guaranteed in Constitution (Bill of Rights) Freedom of speech – Edward Snowden, CIA spying on citizens Able to vote for representatives in elections at local, state and federal level. E.g. 1 million posts from president to dogcatcher Launching illegal wars? Iraq 2003 – not sanctioned by UN. Many US citizens dead or injured Right to protest – pressure groups…e.g. the NRA. Allowed to criticise government Two party system – Only worth voting Democrat or Republican Right to a fair trial – legal rights in court. e.g. right to an attorney Patriot Act – police/FBI can hold suspected terrorists without charge for 90 days – against civil liberties? Human rights? Unconstitutional? Anyone (of age) can stand as a candidate in elections…male, female, black, white etc… Voter apathy – turnout is very low (58% in 2012 Presidential election) – people don’t care about government – don’t think voting makes a difference? Checks and balances…balance of power. No one part of federal government becomes too powerful Need money to become president or representative – no presidents from poor backgrounds. Campaign finance. Freedom of religion, assembly etc… Corruption – e.g. oil companies/private health care donations to Republican Party. Representatives “bought” by companies – get “cosy” jobs after leaving politics

14 Knowledge Question For a world power you have studied, explain the extent to which democracy exists (8 marks)

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