In the 2020 presidential election, more than 159 million people cast their ballots. After every ballot was counted and a special Senate election was held in Georgia, Joseph R. Biden was declared the 46th president of the United States and the Democractic Party retained control of the House of Representatives, and, following a runoff election in Georgia, gained control of the Senate. With a Democratic majority in Congress, constituents expected the Democratic Party to pass the sweeping legislation it had promised and voters had voted for. However, even with control of the executive and legislative branches, Democrats face an uphill battle in passing any of their promised legislation. A simple Senate procedural rule stands in the way of the result of the largest Democratic election ever held in the United States. The rule is called the filibuster, and it has a long history of subversion.
I have watched the U.S. government fail to successfully handle challenges from the start of my political consciousness. I am not alone in this opinion; the United States Congress’ approval rating has not reached above 50% since 2003. In a democracy, if an institution sustains a low approval rating over a long period of time, it is a failure and the citizenry no longer approves of it. Beyond Congress, the Presidency has succumbed to party differences resulting in the increase of executive orders and the simultaneous weakening of our democratic system. Congress and its relationship to the executive branch must be rectified; however, before this process can begin, Congress and the federal government must become functional.
On Feb. 1, the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, deposed the democratically elected parliament and arrested a prominent leader of the majority party, Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League of Democracy. The Tatmadaw also declared a one year state of emergency and took control of Myanmar’s government.
President-elect Joe Biden and the Democratic Party support a $15 minimum wage. President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are completely against the idea. Yet, in the election Trump won with over 51% of the vote in Florida while a ballot initiative for a $15 minimum wage passed with 60.8% of the vote. To many, this would seem completely contradictory, but as someone who has grown up in Florida, it makes complete sense. Bill Clinton, the last Southern president from the Democratic Party, encapsulated this perfectly with a sign he hung in his Little Rock Campaign Headquarters that listed three messages: “The economy stupid,” “Don’t forget Healthcare” and “Change vs More of the Same.” People from the South may overwhelmingly vote Republican, but they are not against progessive ideas. Southerners want higher wages, better healthcare and socioeconomic change. This does not only apply to the South, but also for those living in the Rust Belt, a region in the midwest and any rural areas. It is the reason why Trump was so successful in the first place; he promised real change to people who felt as if they had been left behind. So, the question is, why was Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party’s performance in Florida and other Southern states so lackluster? The answer is how Democrats ran their campaigns.
One phrase stood out to me during the first presidential debate. In a night filled with constant interruptions, I had almost given up on listening to it, but one question made my focus sharpen. The moderator, Chris Wallace, asked President Donald Trump to denounce right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group. As I intently listened to his response, I heard Trump utter the words, almost as if he was issuing a command, “Stand back and stand by.” I was more worried than surprised. This statement was not out of the ordinary for President Trump. In fact, the president has been given countless opportunities to condemn right-wing extremists and has failed to do so. The problem is that a major catalyst for right-wing violence is quickly approaching.
“In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent member of the progressive Wing of the Democratic Party recently said about the stark difference between Democrats. There is massive division within the parties, and it is not just politicians who are frustrated by this. According to an NBC News/WSJ Poll, around 40% of Americans want a third party. If such a large number of Americans want a third party, and individuals within the parties see themselves as fractured, why is America still operating under a seemingly fixed strangle of the two-party system?
On Sept. 8, the DOJ announced that it was taking over from Trump’s lawyers in a defamation lawsuit brought against Trump by E. Jean Carroll. Carroll is an American journalist who claimed in her memoir, “What do we need Men For?,” that Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store sometime between 1995 and 1996. Trump denied her claims, stating, “I have no idea who this woman is. This is a woman who's also accused other men of things, as you know. It is a totally false accusation." Based on this denial, Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump.