Race, Racism and the Law 
Speaking Truth to Power!!

 

American Democracy - A Myth

                   Complete Survey:  Race Relations 2011

 

UNITS
Intro:  Institutional Racism                                                    x
01 Race and Racism                                                    x
02 Citizenship Rights                                                     x
03 Justice                                                     x
04 Basic Needs                                                     x
05 Intersectionality                                                    x
06 Worldwide                                                     x

   
 
  Web Editor:
  Vernellia R. Randall
Professor of Law
The University of Dayton
Web Editor
   
 
China’s Report on US Human Rights Record in 200
Information Office of China's State Council

 

I. American Democracy - a Myth, Political Rights Infringed

By elevating itself to a model of democracy, the United States continuously hawks American-style democracy to other countries. Under the pretext of safeguarding this kind of democracy, the United States continues to make rash criticism of other countries and interferes in their internal affairs.

Nevertheless, well-informed people know that the so-called democracy has been a myth since the United States was founded more than 200 years ago. Political rights of the US citizens have long been infringed.

Although the US Constitution, adopted in 1787, stipulates the citizen's right to vote, the right to vote for every American, regardless of race, color or creed, was not implemented in law until 184 years later.

Owing to discrimination based on race, gender, property, education, age and residency, the African Americans, women and American Indians as well as roughly one-third of white American males were long deprived of their legal right to vote. The African Americans, women and American Indians gained voting rights in 1870, 1920 and 1948 respectively.

In addition, the voter eligibility limitations connected to property, poll tax and low education levels were removed in 1856, 1964 and 1970 respectively.

In 1971, nearly 200 years after the founding of the United States, the federal legislature approved the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, stipulating that age cannot be a legitimate reason for depriving any American of his or her right to vote, and setting the legal voting age at 18. This marked the beginning of universal voter's rights.

Although every American 18 or older is legally guaranteed the right to vote, voter turnout in America has remained at a comparatively low level. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the voter turnouts for elections for the House of Representatives have been ranged between 30 and 60 percent.

Meanwhile, the highest voter turnout rate in the history of presidential elections, which have been touted as major US political events, stands at 65 percent.

Under US law, any presidential candidate who wins the majority of votes wins the election. Over the years, President- elects only won 35 percent of all the electorate or less.

The voter turnout rate for the 1996 general election was only 49 percent, and only 25 percent of registered voters nationwide voted for president. Thus, the results of US general elections has not represented the will of the entire people or the majority.

The 2000 presidential election further exposed the inherent flaws of the US electoral system.

The two candidates, separately representing the Democratic and Republican parties, filed lawsuit after lawsuit on the counts and recounts of ballots in Florida and engaged in non-stop partisan bickering.

Some organizations even issued commemorative coins for the election turmoil. The 2000 general election was accompanied by civil demonstrations and protests.

In line with the electoral system in the election law which has been carried out for more than 200 years, electoral votes ultimately decide which candidate will win.

The 50 million voters who cast ballots for president represented less than one-fourth of the 205 million eligible voters nationwide, an all-time low in US election history.

Since the right to vote is evidently meaningless to the majority of eligible voters, the myth of American democracy was further exposed.

The Associated Press reported, "Some were shocked that a nation often held as a model of democracy could also stumble."

American democracy has always been a game for rich people. In the United States where politics is highly commercialized, any bidder for official post needs to spend a significant amount of money to win. No presidential or congressional candidate will go far without financial backing.

The general election in 2000 cost about US$3 billion, 50 percent more than that in 1996 and setting a record.

The congressional races in various states cost another US$1 billion. While not forbidding political donations, US law sets upper limits on donations from individuals to candidates, political commissions and parties, but allows any amount of "soft" donations from companies or trade unions to political parties.

The soft money collected by various parties and candidates in 2000 reached 648 million dollars, four times the amount of four years ago.

During the election campaign, at least 20 donors spent more than one million dollars each. Actress Jane Fonda gave a US$12 million check for supporting a new pro-abortion group.

According to an Associate Press analysis of Federal Election Commission data which was released on November 9, 2000, 81 percent of year 2000 Senate winners and 96 percent of House winners outspent their opponents.

The AP analysis found 26 of 32 Senate races and 417 of 433 House races won by the candidate with the most money to spend as of October 18, the last date for which figures were available.

Larry Makinson, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that studies money and campaigns, said, "The depressing thing about American democracy is I can check the fund-raising balances at the Federal Election Commission and tell you what the election results will be before the election. "

Thus, the key to American democracy is money, which directly impacts the election results. A Spanish daily, El Mundo, referred to money as the "cancer of American democracy." No other country has seen cancer as disastrous as that in the United States, the newspaper said.

Freedom of the press in the United States is also influenced by money. Wealthy people have the power to manipulate mass media, which can serve as their mouthpieces.

If it can gain financially, the American establishment will turn a deaf ear to international covenants. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, any dissemination on advocating war or ethnic and religious hatred among peoples must be prohibited by law in any country.

However, ignoring the international covenant and universal practice in many countries, the United States has sold or allowed sales of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" since 1933.

During World War II, the United States took in more than 20,000 dollars worth of tax from sales of the book. For the next 34 years, the US Department of Justice collected taxes from book sales amounting to 139,000 dollars.

After buying the book's copyright in 1979, the US publisher Houghton Mifflin continued to sell the book. Experts estimated that the publishing house has sold at least 300,000 copies, netting profits worth between 300,000 and 700,000 dollars.

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Africa                                                    x
Asia                                                    x
Australia                                                    x
Caribbean                                                    x
Europe                                                    x
Middle East                                                    x
North America                                                    x
South America                                                    x

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GeoPolitical Regions                                                     x
Oppressed Groups                                                     x
War on Terrorism                                                     x
UN Human Rights                                                     x
WCAR 2001                                                     x
 
 
 

 

Same level:
[ American Democracy - A Myth ] Rampant Violence and Arbitrary Judicial System ] Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor ] Gender Discrimination & Ill Treament of Children ] Racial Discrimination Previals - Minorities Ill Treated ] Infringment of Human Rights of Other Countries ] Conclusion ]
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Parent Level:
The US and the Crime of Genocide Against Native Americans ] NorthAmerica/UnitedStates03.htm ] The Thirteenth Amendment and Slavery in a Global Economy ] China's Report on US Human Rights Violation (2000) ] Torture in the United States ] United States attacks and Incarcerates Its "Race" Problem! ]
Units:
[Race and Racial Groups] [Citizenship Rights]  [Justice and Race] [Patterns of Basic Needs] [Intersectionality Issues] [Human Rights]

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Copyright @ 1997, 2008
Vernellia Randall. All Rights Reserved
Contact: race.mail@notes.udayton.edu

 
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Racism and GeoPolitical Regions


Thanks to Derrick Bell and his pioneer work: 
Race, Racism and American Law
(1993).