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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

How America's institutions are failing us

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Voters are pictured casting their ballots at a local high school on Nov. 3, 2020.

Joe Biden is on top of the world. Or at least he should be. Throughout his presidency, Biden has been quietly making changes popular with the American people. Yet, polls show Republicans are highly likely to win back the House from Democratic control and are more likely than not to win the Senate. Given the popularity of Biden’s policies, our electoral system ought to be altered to better reflect the will of the people. 

Biden's bipartisan infrastructure plan has the support of a majority of Americans. The Democrats’ American Rescue Plan won even more support with 70% of Americans backing it — notably including 73% of independents. It received widespread support for good reason, since the legislation has created 4 million new jobs, and nearly doubled GDP growth while only raising inflation by 0.35%. It also includes the child tax credit, which has lifted 2.9 million children out of poverty. 

Additionally, Biden’s economic policies have arguably been the most successfully impactful since President Bill Clinton’s. His successes include an unemployment rate between 3.5% and 4%, down from 6.3% when he took office, and the creation of a record-breaking 10 million jobs since he took office.

The issue of inflation has been used unfairly by Republicans to undermine Biden and the Democrats. Although inflation is a real issue facing many individuals across the country and must be addressed, the tools needed to do so are largely out of the control of either party, and it's illogical to assume electing Republicans would fix the issue. 

Inflation is a worldwide issue, not a Democratic one. The United Kingdom, under the conservatives, is experiencing inflation at 10.1%, while the EU’s annual inflation rate stands at 10.7%. The U.S.'s rate is only 8.2%. Inflation is clearly a worldwide issue with roots in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Coupled with the fact that Republicans' plans for combating inflation are unlikely to succeed according to top economists, Biden cannot reasonably be blamed for the current situation. 

The Republican party is also running on an extremely unpopular platform that should be rejected. Republicans are out of step with the majority of Americans on issues such as climate change, Social Security and Medicare. Donald Trump polls at around 40% but most Republican candidates, such as J.D. Vance, embrace him. Many Republicans, such as Herschel Walker and Adam Laxalt, are also running on banning or restricting abortion, despite Roe v. Wade being highly popular with a 60% approval rate.

On Tuesday, the country will decide between Biden’s Democratic Party and the far-right Republican Party. Given that they passed popular policies and cannot be rightfully blamed for inflation and since Republicans are running on deeply unpopular issues, the Democrats should win in a landslide victory. But they won’t. In fact, it's more likely that they will lose. This boils down to two simple factors: the mainstream media and structural biases against Democrats.

The media, including “liberal” news organizations, often publishes articles disadvantaging Democrats. The attempted assassination of the Speaker of the House did not make the front page of The New York Times while 2017’s Congressional Baseball Shooting, where a GOP lawmaker was shot, did. Additionally, many voters think we are in a recession — despite there being no economic consensus on this position — due to the media’s communication on the issue.

Additionally, as a result of Republican gerrymandering and realities of the Senate, Democrats have to receive far more votes than Republicans to win majorities in the two chambers. In the Senate, small states have an advantage due to each state receiving two senators no matter the population. Small state bias allows for states with smaller populations to arrest the will of the majority of Americans. In cases such as climate change where progress is both necessary and popular but cannot get passed, this poses a threat to our democracy. 

The numbers prove this anti-Democratic discrepancy. If Democrats score a 4 percentage point victory over Republicans, they still only have a 50-50 chance of keeping their majority and would likely lose the Senate if they won 51% of the nationwide popular vote. The House has also been proven to be unfair to Democrats — with a consistent four- to six-point advantage for Republicans throughout the past 10 years. Redistricting has reduced this advantage, though it will likely still have a one to twopoint effect. We can visualize these discrepancies with this jaw-dropping figure: Democratic senators represent 41.5 million more people than Republican senators do, despite Democrats and Republicans being equally represented in the Senate.

Luckily, there are many solutions to fixing the structural biases that plague our governing institutions. First, we could pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to end partisan gerrymandering and increase voter turnout. Second, we could make the Senate a fairer government body by granting Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood, which would give a vote to those whose voices are currently silenced. Finally, we could consider ways to make the House of Representatives more representative, such as James Madison’s proposed constitutional amendment capping the number of people within each district. 

And while there is not much we can do to fix media bias, except perhaps go into media careers after graduation, voters must examine the facts present in elections and make logical choices based on them — not on the sensationalism present in the media and headlines. We need to recognize the powerful forces at play that are leading this election toward an outcome that does not represent the popular will of the people. We need to promote reforms to these flawed American institutions and vote for candidates who will fight for a fairer and more representative America.

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