The Invisible Problems of Racism
The problem with racism is that many people don't think it
is. Many live their lives not even realizing what is
happening the world around them. Racism, here, nah.
Others know all about it, but they don't realize that they
themselves, yes, themselves, are racists. Huh, I'm not
racist. What do you mean? I'm more open minded than
that. Give me some credit. Then they turn around and
discriminate against someone else's human rights. Not
racist, yah right.
What is one of the main problems with racism? It's that
many people live in racist conditions, without even seeing
it. It flies right over their heads. Schools, the workplace,
our community, our friends house, even our homes. We
hear a racial slur, oh well, it's just a joke. Hardly. If you
think racist joke are harmless than you should take a
reality check. Racist jokes are just the start of it. Many
people think the jokes are funny. Maybe they are, but they
still hurt the people the jokes are about.
Some of the worst racists are the ones who think that they
are not racist and really are. They really have to come to
grips with reality. Why are they some the worst racists?
They are, because they can't comprehend what is
happening. They don't realize what they are saying and
doing are racist. Until they come to grips with it there is no
problem. No problem, in their minds. They say that they
aren't racist, even when they don't hire the East Indian
employee who was the most qualified of the candidates.
Even when the basketball team that they coach is all
white. And even the time when they moved from their
seat at the movie theater because of the black person next
to them. Well, gee, they could have been a criminal. A
robber from the hood. After all, isn't that what most of
them are. No one deserves to be prejudged like that. The
prejudice of people in the world is disgusting. The worst
part of it all is that they don't even know that they are
doing it. They think it's j! ust no rmal behavior. It doesn't
even phase them when they do it.
Then there are those who are completely unaware of
racism in the world. They walk down the streets, through
the stores and working at their job, completely oblivious.
They're so blind! Why can't they see what is happening
around them? Have they really lived such sheltered lives?
Or do they just not want to believe it is happening? If you
take someone and put them in the heart of a racist area,
they still won't notice the problems. They will see it with
their own eyes, but it won't register in their mind. If these
people don't open their eyes, they will never see what is
happening. What is going to happen to the world if people
don't start realizing what is happening? Will we be plunged
into a time where racial tension is everywhere? Will we
soon start having racial wars? Will racial violence be a
normal every day occurrence? I don't know. No one could
know. Unless we start taking action and helping people
come to grips with the way they are we can't combat
People who don't see that racism is a problem are almost
as bad as the racists themselves. Now, don't take that
comment in the wrong way, but as long as they are
unaware, racism won't stop. I am aware of racism. I am
also not a racist myself. I have lived in a racist community
for most of my life, thank god I haven't turned out like the
rest of them. There is hope for everybody.
Is the Unites States Political System a Legitimate
In any system which claims to be democratic, a question
of its legitimacy remains. A truly democratic political
system has certain characteristics which prove its
legitimacy with their existence. One essential
characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows
people to freely make choices without government
intervention. Another necessary characteristic which
legitimates government is that every vote must count
equally: one vote for every person. For this equality to
occur, all people must be subject to the same laws, have
equal civil rights, and be allowed to freely express their
ideas. Minority rights are also crucial in a legitimate
democracy. No matter how unpopular their views, all
people should enjoy the freedoms of speech, press and
assembly. Public policy should be made publicly, not
secretly, and regularly scheduled elections should be held.
Since legitimacy may be defined as the feeling or
opinion the people have that government is based upon
morally defensible principles and that they should therefore
obey it, then there must necessarily be a connection
between what the people want and what the government
is doing if legitimacy is to occur.
The U.S. government may be considered legitimate in
some aspects, and illegitimate in others. Because voting is
class-biased, it may not be classified as a completely
legitimate process. Although in theory the American
system calls for one vote per person, the low rate of
turnout results in the upper and middle classes ultimately
choosing candidates for the entire nation. Class is
determined by income and education, and differing levels
of these two factors can help explain why class bias
occurs. For example, because educated people tend to
understand politics more, they are more likely to vote.
People with high income and education also have more
resources, and poor people tend to have low political
efficacy (feelings of low self-worth). Turnout, therefore, is
low and, since the early 1960s, has been declining overall.
The winner-take-all system in elections may be criticized
for being undemocratic because the proportion of people
agreeing with a particular candidate on a certain issue may
not be adequately represented under this system. For
example, a candidate who gets 40 percent of the vote, as
long as he gets more votes than any other candidate, can
be elected-even though sixty percent of the voters voted
against him(Lind, 314).
Political parties in America are weak due to the anti-party,
anti-organization, and anti-politics cultural prejudices of the
Classical Liberals. Because in the U.S. there is no national
discipline to force citizens into identifying with a political
party, partisan identification tends to be an informal
psychological commitment to a party. This informality
allows people to be apathetic if they wish, willingly giving
up their input into the political process. Though this apathy
is the result of greater freedom in America than in other
countries, it ultimately decreases citizens' incentive to
express their opinions about issues, therefore making
democracy less legitimate.
Private interests distort public policy making because,
when making decisions, politicians must take account of
campaign contributors. An interest may be defined as
any involvement in anything that affects the economic,
social, or emotional well-being of a person. When
interests become organized into groups, then politicians
may become biased due to their influences. Special
interests buy favors from congressmen and presidents
through political action committees (PACs), devices by
which groups like corporations, professional associations,
trade unions, investment banking groups-can pool their
money and give up to $10,000 per election to each House
and Senate candidate(Lind, 157). Consequently, those
people who do not become organized into interest groups
are likely to be underrepresented financially. This leads to
further inequality and, therefore, greater illegitimacy in the
The method in which we elect the President is fairly
legitimate. The electoral college consists of representatives
who we elect, who then elect the President. Because this
fills the requirement of regularly scheduled elections, it is a
legitimate process. The President is extremely powerful in
foreign policy making; so powerful that scholars now
speak of the Imperial Presidency, implying that the
President runs foreign policy as an emperor. The President
is the chief diplomat, negotiator of treaties, and
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. There has been
a steady growth of the President's power since World
War II. This abundance of foreign Presidential power may
cause one to believe that our democratic system is not
legitimate. However, Presidential power in domestic
affairs is limited. Therefore, though the President is very
powerful in certain areas, the term Imperial Presidency
is not applicable in all areas.
The election process of Congress is legitimate because
Senators and Representatives are elected directly by the
people. Power in Congress is usually determined by the
seniority system. In the majority party (the party which
controls Congress), the person who has served the longest
has the most power. The problem with the seniority
system is that power is not based on elections or on who is
most qualified to be in a position of authority. Congress is
also paradoxical because, while it is good at serving
particular individual interests, it is bad at serving the
general interest (due to its fragmented structure of
committees and sub-committees).
The manner in which Supreme Court Justices are elected
is not democratic because they are appointed by the
President for lifelong terms, rather than in regularly
scheduled elections. There is a non-political myth that the
only thing that Judges do is apply rules neutrally. In
actuality, they interpret laws and the Constitution using
their power of judicial review, the power explicitly given to
them in Marbury v. Madison.
Though it has been termed the imperial judiciary by
some, the courts are the weakest branch of government
because they depend upon the compliance of the other
branches for enforcement of the laws.
The bureaucracy is not democratic for many reasons. The
key features of a bureaucracy are that they are large,
specialized, run by official and fixed rules, relatively free
from outside control, run on a hierarchy, and they must
keep written records of everything they do. Bureaucracies
focus on rules, but their members are unhappy when the
rules are exposed to the public. Bureaucracies violate the
requirement of a legitimate democracy that public policy
must be made publicly, not secretly. To be hired in a
bureaucracy, a person must take a civil service exam.
People working in bureaucracies may also only be fired
under extreme circumstances. This usually leads to the
Peter Principle; that people who are competent at their
jobs are promoted until they are in jobs in which they are
no longer competent.
Policy making may be considered democratic to an extent.
The public tends to get its way about 60% of the time.
Because one of the key legitimating factors of government
is a connection between what it does and what the public
wants, policy making can be considered 60% legitimate.
Furthermore, most of what the federal government does
never reaches the public. Public opinion polls represent the
small percentage of issues that people have heard about.
Though the individual workings of the American
government may not be particularly democratic, it must be
somewhat legitimate overall because without legitimacy,
government fails. However, the people who run for and
win public office are not necessarily the most intelligent,
best informed, wealthiest, or most successful business or
professional people. At all levels of the political system,…it
is the most politically ambitious people who are willing to
sacrifice time, family and private life, and energy and
effort for the power and celebrity that comes with public
office(Dye, 58-59). The legitimacy of the United States
government is limited, but in a system of government
which was designed not to work, complete democracy is
most likely impossible.
Dye, Thomas R. Who's Running America? The Clinton
Years. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall,
Lind, Michael. The Next American Nation: The New
Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution. New
York: The Free Press, 1995.
Word Count: 1922
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