The Challenge of Democracy Book Report essay

The book “Challenge of Democracy” by Janda Kenneth et al. contains a range of charts that visualize the challenge of democracy in the United States. This paper will discuss some of the charts. The report will include descriptions of the charts and personal opinions.

The chart 3.1 demonstrates two metaphors for federalism. The first metaphor is called “layer-cake”. It presents dual federalism, which is characterized by viewing the powers and duties of national and state governments as distinct as the layers of the cake. Each government has the highest power in its “layer”. The sizes of both layers are set by the Constitution. The second metaphor is named as a “marble-cake”. It describes the cooperative federalism. Unlike dual federalism, state and national governments do not act in distinct spheres here. The powers and functions of the governments are mixed. Therefore, the marble-cake cake metaphor has three layers, such as state level, national level, shared by state and national levels. The layer-cake metaphor has only state level and national level. The chart about the metaphors of federalism is a clear visualization of the differences and similarities of two types of federalism.

 

The chart 3.2 presents the trends in national governments grants in1980-2012. In 1980, the government spent much more on educational programs than today. In 1990, grants for health programs were the greatest, particularly they reached 30 percent. In 2000, health grants reached 43 percent. In 2012, they exceed 50 percent. The growth of the educational grants is explained by the increasing of Medicaid costs. These trends demonstrate that the U.S. health care system experiences the crisis. The government has to increase grants for healthcare system all the time, whereas slices of other spheres (e.g. education, income security, transportation) are constantly reduced.

The chart 4.1 reflects the accuracy of Gallup Poll. The data is gathered from 1936 to 2012. Overall, this Poll provides very accurate predictions about the results of the presidential elections. The statistical error normally reaches only about 2 percent. The poll was most significantly wrong in 1948 when it underestimated Truman’s votes by 5.4 percent. As a result, the victory was given to Truman’s competitor. In 1992, the error was even bigger and reached 5.8 percent but the winner was predicted correctly. Therefore, the Gallup Poll is an effective tool for measuring public opinion.

The chart 4.3 presents the ideological tendencies in American Society. Participants of the 2008 election survey had to answer two questions. The first question was about guaranteeing jobs by the government. People with answers “yes” support equality. Participants with answers “no” are for “freedom”. The second was about abortion .Individuals that want government to forbid abortion stand for order, whereas individuals that are against outlawing abortion are for freedom. Participants’ answers to these two questions do not demonstrate any correlation. This means that the following value choices cannot be explained by a simple liberal-conservative continuum. Nevertheless, the survey reveled that the popularity of the Liberal (32 percent), Libertarian (27 percent), Conservative (21 percent) and Communitarian (19 percent) patterns. The chart also has the information about people’s self-evaluation, which revealed some differences between participants’ answers and their choice of ideology. This means that people could be either liberal or conservative depending on the question.

Chart 5.1 reflects the attitudes of Americans towards three types of political behaviors outside voting. The study found that most of citizens (70 percent) support signing petitions. Only 20 percent of people participated or were engaged in boycotts. The amount of supporters of demonstrations reached 15 percent. The peaceful character could explain such high popularity of petitions. They do not require significant effort from people and opposition to the established order. Boycotting products and demonstrations could have negative effects on other people. For example, demonstrations can involve violence.

Chart 5.2 describes the expanding of the full voting rights for blacks in the South. Adopting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other actions led to doubling of the number of black eligible voters from 1960 to 1980.  In 2000, the number of white and black voters was almost the same. Thus, voting registration rate of blacks reached 64 percent, whereas voting registration rate of whites was 69 percent. Increasing of black eligible voters among blacks demonstrates that citizens of this race have greater influence on the political processes in the country and can defend their rights.

Chart 6.4 presents the influence of party identification on the vote. The 2012 election demonstrated that citizens tended to vote for the representatives of their party. In particular, most of democrats supported Barack Obama and most of republicans chose Romney.  As for independents, half of them supported Obama and half of people voted for Romney. Therefore, the parties should pay particular attention to gaining the support of people on a long-term basis. The candidates’ attributes are less influential.

Chart 6.5 describes the party voting in the House of Parliament over last forty years. Thus, the ideological overlap between Democratic and Republican parties almost disappeared. Democrats are strongly liberal and republicans are strongly conservative. This facilitates the choice of citizens during elections because they have a clear understanding of the politicians’ decisions in the House of Parliament. It is also easier for people to indentify themselves with parties.

Chart 7.1 demonstrates the decline of percentage of employees belonging to labor unions. Thus, about twenty percent of labor forces were members of unions in 1983. In 2012, only twelve percent of employees belonged to unions. At the same time, the amount of unions’ participants has increased in 2013. Reducing of unions’ popularity could be explained by moving manufacturing jobs to developing countries. People working in heavy industry tend to join unions more frequently than employees from service sector do. Therefore, the influence of labor unions has reduced.

Chart 7.3 shows which interest groups have the greatest influence on decisions of the federal government. In particular, it was found that the advantages of the business groups (corporations and trade associations) are the most significant. At the same time, citizen groups have influence on about a quarter of issues. This chart demonstrates that business groups are more influential than citizen groups, which is leads to unequal distribution of advantages.

Chart 8.1 describes the percentage of incumbents reelected from 1952 to 2012. Representatives have greater support than senators do. However, most of incumbents from both groups are reelected.  This probably happens because voters believe that their own candidates do share the same negative features as the rest of the congress. As a result, the voters chose the same politicians despite the satisfaction with the work of the Congress.

Chart 8.2 presents the attitudes of voters to the Congress in 1998-2012. The public opinions about the Congress have been always quite negative. However, starting from 2005, the confidence scores have greatly declined. For example, the level of approval and disapproval was about forty percent in 2005. In 2012, more than seventy percent of voters disapproved the work of the Congress and about ten percent of voters approved the organization. Such negative tendency could be explained by the fact that citizens do not think that the Congress solve nation’s issues.

Chart 9.1 provides the list of qualities that Americans expect from the President. Thus, citizens believe that a good president should be a strong and decisive leader, who also possesses moral values. They also want their president to be an effective manager. The least important qualities for them are the work experience in Washington, serving in the military and the frequently of visiting the religious services. This means that voters pay particular attention to the professional qualities of the potential president.

Chart 9.2 proves that the public opinion about the performance of a president mainly depends on the economical situation in the country. For example, economic crisis in 2008-2009 has led to falling of the nation’s support to about twenty-five percent. Therefore, the president that desires to have a stable approval of the voters needs to focus on solving the economic issues.

Chart 10.1 is about the number of employees working for the different departments of the government. The Department of Defense is the biggest. It has more than 770,000 civilian employees. The Department of Education is the smallest and includes only about 5,000 employees. This statistical data reflects the priorities of the Government during the recent period. Thus, it focuses on the national security. At the same time, the education, housing and urban development receive less attention from the Government.

Chart 10.2 demonstrates the influence of the government of the type of regulation. The chart reveals that the control increased after gaining power by Democrats. This refers to consumer product safety, occupational safety and health administration, food and drug administration, mind safety and health administration. The Republican president provided more freedom and agencies under his control regulated less than now. Therefore, the level of regulation depends on the party that has a power. Democrats prefer regulating more than Republicans, so the chart demonstrates the growth of control over last years.

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The Challenge of Democracy Book Report essay

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