“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. â€” That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, â€” That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The quote â€”an excerpt from The Declaration of Independenceâ€”paints a rather ideal picture of how everyday Americans influence the United States political system. As an American voter, do you ever ask yourself if your elected and prospective elected leaders of government represent the needs of the average or majority of American citizens? Do you question your happiness with the current state of the American political system? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are not alone; American voters are becoming increasingly angry with the United States political system.
In fact, according to a late October 2015 survey conducted by Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies, over sixty percent of Americans are angry because they feel the political system only works to serve the interests of the insiders with money, influence, and power, such as those on Wall Street or in Washington, instead of working to serve and enhance the well-being of everyday people (www.nbcnews.com).
Indeed, a majority of the electorateâ€”the body of persons entitled to vote in an electionâ€”are angry at the political system regardless of their party, race, educational background, and income level. For instance, when a those surveyed were asked about the extent of their anger, the survey found that 72 percent of men, 67 percent of women, 69 percent of whites, 68 percent of African Americans, 65 percent of Hispanics, 73 percent of college graduates, 67 percent of non-college attendees, 71 percent of those in the lowest income bracket, and 67 percent of those in the highest income bracket are angry at current political institutions.
But why are so many different groups of American voters so dissatisfied? The answer may partially lie in the general voting behavior patterns as well as the longstanding voting rules and protocol by which voters must abide. The infographic below finds that American voters are not actively voting enough, thus denying their voices to be heard. Another example of voter resentment could be due to a lack of voter participation in midterm electionsâ€”elections in which representatives are chosen to become members of the United States Congress.
While elected officials may not always hold themselves accountable in serving the interests of the majority, the Obama administration has recently announced the launch of a new program called “the White House Leadership Development Program”, an initiative designed to indoctrinate a new cohort of top career federal managers who will serve to modernize the government. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a diverse group of sixteen highly scrutinized individuals will act to engage more frequently in complex, cross agency challenges to improve government agencies and produce positive outcomes from such challenges (www.govexec.com). These future leaders have undergone a rigorous selection process in which they demonstrated their ability to effectively collaborate, communicate, adapt, perform strategic planning, demonstrate politically awareness, and identify and overcome unconventional challenges. It is important to realize that these future leaders will ultimately be held accountable by voters to foster positive reformations in the American political system.
So, when will elected officials become more accountable to everyday American citizens? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, but there are ways in which the general public and elected officials can instill confidence (or the pursuit of happiness) among American voters. The most obvious way to decrease public discontent is to ensure that qualified voters exercise their constitutional right to vote; keep in mind that one characteristic of a legitimate democratic society is the occurrence of routinely held free and fair elections. After all, democracy is contingent upon the integrity of majority rule and individual rights.