Does Democracy Work?

Election Booth

The Voting Booth

Some Americans are likely thrilled with last week’s election results, while others are likely upset. Even though they can’t vote, our fifth and sixth graders had a lot to say about the outcome. Overall, students think our system is a good one:

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However, some students weren’t happy with the outcome of the election.

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Many students had ideas about what could be improved (click photo to enlarge).

Our students wondered — do other countries have good governments? If you are reading this from other country, would you be willing to answer some questions for us? Here’s what our students want to know:

Please comment below this post and tell us your opinions. If you are American, do you think our democracy works? If you are in another country, what is your government like? We look forward to learning from you.

4 replies »

  1. I grew up in England, which is part of a country called the United Kingdom. We have elections in the United Kingdom, but we also have a queen. However, the queen does not have many powers. It is called a constitutional monarchy.

    Some people in the UK think that our democracy works really well because the Prime Minister (who is kind of like the President) and the parliament (which is kind of like congress) are always of the same party. You can kind of think of it like this: in the UK system, if the Republicans have more senators and representatives, the President would also be a Republican. This is different than the US system where right now most senators and representatives are Republican, but the president is a Democrat. Some people think the UK system works better because the prime minister and parliament spend less time fighting with each other and more time getting things done because they are of the same party.

    In the UK almost everyone can vote. People who are currently in prison cannot vote, though the government has been told by the courts that some prisoners must be allowed to vote, so maybe that will change soon. In most elections, only people over 18 can vote but in certain elections everyone over 16 can vote. The queen is not allowed to vote.

    The British government cares a lot about the environment and has promised to cut greenhouse gasses. The government also pays for homeless shelters as well as job centers to help people find work, but these receive less money than they used to because the government is trying to spend less. The government is committed to the equality of all UK citizens. We recently passed laws allowing gay marriage in the UK, though some politicians in the government think this was wrong.

    Hope that answers your questions!


    • That’s very helpful, Alex. Thank you very much! It’ll be interesting to see if we hear from people in other countries too. If so, we’ll be able to compare them to the British system as well as the American system. Overall, which system do you think is most effective, having experienced both?

  2. Hello Grade 5th and 6th Students! I live in Canada, in the province of Manitoba.

    Our political systems are similar but have many differences too. Everyone over the age of 18 can register to vote. We do have a Queen. The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada. We also have a Prime Minister for the federal government, similar to your president; and each province or territory has a Premier, similar to your governors.

    One of the things I like better about our Canadian voting system is that we have more than two parties. We have many parties so people have more choices. This also means that votes don’t cancel each other out. We often have people running in elections that don’t belong to any political party and they are called Independents.

    Canadians do have very strict gun laws and have a hard time understanding why so many Americans feel they need guns. It is very difficult to get a personal weapon here, and many guns that are common place in America are illegal here. Many Americans do not understand this and their guns are taken away from them as they try to enter our country.

    We appear to have a great deal of privacy online. We can do pretty much what we want to, but I am sure the government and other agencies are paying attention to what goes on. The internet just makes that so easy to do. We put ourselves out there on the world wide web, so we can’t be too surprised when people find out things about our private lives.

    We do have homeless shelters and food kitchens. My family and I have helped out in some of the soup kitchens. They are greatly needed here. Our winters are so cold. People without a warm place to go to would freeze to death. We usually have many months of temperatures below -40C (which is the same in Fahrenheit!), and we go as low as -50 C (-58F) for a couple of weeks. Our shelters really do prevent deaths.

    While our political system is not perfect, I am pleased with it. I think we have more say in our government than you do in the USA. We do less mud slinging, and we have less corruption. Note that I did say ‘less’. We do still have these things, just not to the same degrees as in America. We do not vote in judges, or sheriffs as they are appointed here. That means there is no politics or favours involved in these appointments as sometimes happens in campaigning for elections.

    I am happy to be Canadian. 🙂

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