Detailing how threats to democracy—some long-standing, others recent—deprive Americans of all political stripes of the power to participate in their governance, this users’ manual offers new and future voters ways to make their voices heard and their ballots count.
The challenges are sobering, and Rusch lays them out clearly. Citizen voters don’t elect presidents; the Electoral College does, and twice in 20 years it has elected the candidate who lost the popular vote. Like sparsely populated, early-primary states, “battleground” states essential to securing Electoral College victory play an outsize role in selecting presidential candidates; meanwhile, other states get little attention. Each state has two senators, regardless of population; today, half the Senate represents just 16.2% of the U.S. population. With election spending now a financial arms race, issues wealthy donors care about are prioritized over those of other constituents; time politicians must devote to fundraising leaves significantly less for legislating. Gerrymandering, with a long, bipartisan history and now technologically weaponized, engineers House legislative districts to ensure one-party control. Voter-suppression efforts target youth and minorities. Rusch has some hope to offer: To address these and many other challenges, initiatives for restoring democracy—some from teen activists—are described and resources provided. Effective infographics and references support the streamlined text. Rusch unites a passion for democracy with a belief in the power of young people to help restore it.
A riveting must-read. (bibliography, online resources) (Nonfiction. 10-16)