The New York Times has an excellent interactive graphic that illustrates just how problematic American democracy is, given widespread skepticism about the choices voters face in the 2016 Presidential Election.
- The United States is home to 324 million people. Each square in the graph represents 1 million people.
- 103 million of them are children, noncitizens or ineligible felons, and they do not have the right to vote.
- 88 million eligible adults do not vote at all, even in general elections. (THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM THAT NO POLITICAL PARTY IS ADDRESSING.)
- An additional 73 million did not vote in the primaries this year, but will most likely vote in the general election. (TAKEN TOGETHER WITH FACT #3, THIS MEANS 161 MILLION ELIGIBLE VOTERS DID NOT VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE DURING THE PRIMARY ELECTIONS.)
- The remaining 60 million people voted in the primaries: about 30 million each for Republicans and Democrats.
- But half of the primary voters (30 MILLIONS PEOPLE!) chose other candidates. Just 14 percent of eligible adults — 9 percent of the whole nation — voted for either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.
When only 9 percent of eligible voters choose the candidates from the two major political parties, and so many other people are either (a) unhappy with those candidates and voted for someone else or (b) didn’t show up to vote at all, it shows there is a debilitating weakness in America’s democratic process.
How can we strengthen democracy in America without addressing the stranglehold that the two-party system has on it? Republicans vs. Democrats, Democrats vs. Republicans? No wonder there is such polarization in our politics, because the system is rigged to benefit the major political parties. And neither party is doing anything to encourage the majority of eligible voters who are not showing up to the polls at all (and likely won’t in this election given the dissatisfaction of the electorate with both candidates).