Is Our Democracy Deteriorating?


Daisy Bolger, Staff writer

     2016, a year to remember. America fought and lived through a ruthless presidential election full of convictions, illegal emails, and offensive recordings. But for many, waking up on that gloomy November 8th was the beginning of a seemingly never-ending nightmare. Women, minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants all felt a pit in their stomachs when Donald Trump was officially elected president. They knew he wasn’t there to protect them, but to represent the rich and privileged. Americans from every nook and cranny of the 50 states had an inkling of fear for what was to become of their “free” homeland. A nuclear missile was heading straight for our democracy, and it was a bright shade of Cheeto orange.

     He’s not a play-by-the-rules type of guy. Throughout his campaign period, Trump crossed boundaries and dodged bullets that someone of less power could have never accomplished without scrutiny. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, was under constant fire for emails that were never confirmed to have existed, while our current president was swimming in serious legal allegations during election season. From being recorded saying that he enjoyed groping women to incredibly inappropriate accounts of sexual assault from an army of survivors, Trump somehow managed to sneak past years in jail for his wrongdoings. And today, he’s sitting in the oval office. As our president.

     In Trump’s case, money can buy you second chances. And third chances. And so on. While he is signing bills in Washington, his name plasters New York City buildings and golf courses. His bank account keeps growing. His power keeps growing. He has D.C. in his clutch, and his wallet could buy the whole city. Power and money can get you out of trouble, and Trump’s situation is no exception. He can get away with practically anything, and this has been taking a hit on America’s core principles.

     So how does this all connect? How does his scary track record put a dent in our democracy? Well, these are all examples of how Trump’s unbelievable amount of power can cause Washington to look the other way when he is in the wrong. This is a dangerous but extremely relevant practice that is represented everywhere, from your friend circles to Hollywood’s biggest stars. But it hurts a nation most when it is occuring in the core of its structure. Our president’s uncanny ability to remain out of trouble is becoming too much for our basic government system to handle, and it is sparking a debate over whether our democracy is still intact.

     One of the most well-known and threatening examples of this is the border debate. Trump issued a 35-day government shutdown and, most recently, a National Emergency over this controversial issue. He has built his arguments on claims of terrorism coming from the Southern Border, but statistics from CNN’s security analyst Peter Bergen show different facts. He states that “In the United States since the 9/11 attacks, 455 jihadist terrorists have been charged or convicted or died before they faced trial. Not one of these terrorists crossed the southern border.” The president’s repeating temper tantrums, based solely on stereotypes and rumors, are even being deemed unconstitutional by organizations such as the ACLU. They are one of many groups filing lawsuits against Trump for illegal abuse of power. According to ACLU’s National Security Project staff attorney, “The Constitution assigns Congress the power of the purse, and no prior president has ever tried to use emergency powers to fund a chosen project — particularly a permanent, large-scale domestic project such as this — against congressional will. This is obviously improper.”

     Although maybe not immediately obvious, this action from the president is dangerous. This misuse of power has begun to wobble the house of cards that is our system of governing. America’s democracy is being tested with such drastic and unnecessary measures from our officials, and overlooking this illegal behavior is toxic. Our president has tested our rules and regulations time and time again, and the people have become used to his wrongdoings. His own personal grudges and hatred comes out of the woodwork when laws are being created, and this is used against innocent people. This is made possible by his corrupted influence on the people around him, including government officials. If Trump is not eventually stopped or punished for his actions, the balance of power that America so greatly relies on will fade – and fast. Our Constitution is being violated and stomped on by someone with seemingly endless power, and our rights are at stake.

     So no, our democracy isn’t gone yet, but if we let too much slide, we won’t have a system to lean on for our basic human rights. Yet in reality, the damage hasn’t been done yet: what hasn’t been wrecked doesn’t have to be fixed. We can’t give Trump the credit of ruining the democracy, for there still is a foundation. His mistakes have only shaken us up, and we can still stand again and become stronger. If we take action now, we can stop the problem before it becomes irreparable.

     This issue was cooked up in a perfect storm – a tense presidential election, a power-hungry man, and mindless officials who agree with every word he speaks. But it’s not necessarily over yet, the system is just being tested. If we become aware of the threat, we can stop it before it’s too late. The house of cards won’t tumble as long as the Cheeto missile doesn’t launch.