I’ve read some great blogs from my Media & Politics students this semester, so I’m submitting another entry to my Blog Blog Project. This blog comes from University of Delaware freshman, Brian Weiss, who is majoring in Political Science. Here, he proposes an idea to increase voter turnout in the United States through the lens of a “New Cold War.”
— — — — —
The Cold War. An unarguably significant and incredibly tense 45 years in American history. This war, comprised of the two most dominant world powers at the time — the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics — pointed over 60,000 weapons of mass destruction at one another, ready to be fired at any moment. These two world leaders, never allowing their fingers to stray too far from the big red button, had the potential to kill hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Now, after my brief history lesson, you should be able to empathize with the feeling of overwhelming anxiety I experienced when I read these three simple words, “NEW COLD WAR,” in a New York Times headline recently. This headline is not referring to the worsening relationship between the United States and Russia, though if it were I would not have been surprised. It instead is referring to the worsening relationship between the United States (of course) …and the People’s Republic of China.
The New York Times Article, “Xi Jinping Extends Power, and China Braces for a New Cold War,” discusses China’s decision to repeal term limits, allowing China’s current President Xi Jinping to continue serving until he sees fit to retire from his position of unrivaled power. China is also planning on modernizing their air, sea, space, and cyber weapons as a response to Donald Trump’s plan to rebuild the United States’ nuclear arsenal to that of its former “glory” during the Cold War era.
This article had me thinking about the implications that such a change could have on China’s election process…which led me to realize that I know absolutely nothing about China’s electoral process. For that matter, I hardly know anything about the inner workings of China at all. As it turns out, neither do a surprisingly large amount of Chinese citizens who are not guaranteed a say in the functions of their government, and are exiled, jailed, or murdered for speaking out against the Communist Party of China.
In class, we discussed how pathetically low voting turnout is in the United States. How the statistics show that less than half of the eligible voting population in the United States actually vote. How the citizens of this country are less interested and less informed than any other democratic country in the world. In China, people are restricted in what they are allowed to research as all ideologies that are not in line with the Communist Party of China are censored. In the United States, it is not a problem of mass censorship that is holding American citizens from gaining a better understanding of the world around them, it is pure disinterest.
I do not believe that the United States will regress into an autocracy, like some may argue Xi Jinping is doing in the People’s Republic of China. I do, however, believe that a lack of interest in our democracy will allow the actions of organizations or representatives that do not have the good of the country at heart to go unchallenged, undermining our democracy and our rights as citizens.
Though I am powerless in my ability to convince Xi Jinping to grant more rights for the citizens of China, and I of course can not singlehandedly improve relations between the United States and China to prevent the next “Cold War,” I do have what I believe to be solution for such low participation in our political system among United States citizens.
In order to improve participation in our Democratic system, we must educate the citizens of the United States on the inner workings of countries such as China, as well as other governments that do not guarantee the rights that we as Americans possess. Through the understanding of our privileges as Americans, we can generate more participation for our political process, strengthen our democracy and once again serve as an inspiration for the world.
The United States is the land of the free and the home of the brave, the land of opportunity, and — most importantly the birthplace of the great Tom Hanks — and it is our privilege, NAY, our duty as patriotic Americans to understand and participate in this great American experiment.
And yes, that means you’re stuck with jury duty and you’re going to have to pay taxes.
— — — — —
Brian Weiss is a freshman at the University of Delaware majoring in Political Science. His blog was selected by Dr. Hoffman to post on the Blog Blog Project.